When a player is regarded by only one name; Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Pele, Maradona, it usually means they’re good, really good.
Marta, also falls into that same category, she is really good, and everyone knows her by one name, Marta. In fact, she is more than really good, many think she is the best women’s player to ever play the game. It would be hard to argue with that claim. She has the most goals ever for any male or female player in World Cup history, she is a 6 time FIFA Player of the Year, has scored in 5 world cups, and has more World Cup Goals than any Brazilian player ever. Yes that includes Ronaldo, and Pele.
Marta is however missing one major piece on her resume, a World Cup Trophy, and at age 33 this year was thought to be the last opportunity for her to earn one. Brazil struggled through group play and qualified for the knockout stages as a third place team. Unfortunately that meant they had to meet the host nation France in the round of 16, who were among the top 3 favorites to win the tournament at the start.
When Brazil and France meet in a World Cup, there is always drama, and it rarely disappoints. Sunday’s match was no different. France had a first half goal taken off the board thanks to VAR, but managed to open the scoring in the second half, and grab the first lead of the game. Brazil answered just 10 minutes later with a goal that stood up against VAR to tie the game. It would remain that way through 90 minutes and extra time would be required. Despite an excellent opportunity for Brazil to take the lead in overtime, it was France who scored first in the 106th minute with a goal from Amandine Henry … no not Thierry. The result would hold and it was France who would move on ending the journey for Marta’s Brazil.
Naturally the Brazilian side including Marta was very emotional after the game. Many of their star players are aging, and the window with their “golden generation” is all but closed. Through all the tears and emotions that flooded the pitch, Marta delivered maybe one of the most powerful post game interviews ever, across any sport male or female, to her nation and the female footballers within it.
Staring down the lens of the camera, into the eyes of millions across the globe watching, here is what Marta had to say (translated from Portuguese to English) to her nation.
“It’s wanting more, it’s training more, it’s taking care of yourself more. It’s being ready to play 90 minutes plus 30. This is what I ask of the girls. There is not going to be a Formiga forever, there is not going to be a Marta forever, there is not going to be a Cristiane. The women’s game depends on you to survive. Think about that. Value it more. Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end.”
If Marta is not the greatest women’s footballer of all time, she is certainly one of them. And if this is her last time in a Brazil kit on the World Cup stage, she certainly closed this chapter of her career with a powerful message that speaks to way more than just the game of soccer.