In the wake of Mia Hamm, she became the most famous women’s soccer player in the world. In the process, Marta Vieira da Silva claimed worldwide fame few female athletes have ever enjoyed. For so many reasons, it was easy to call her the female Pelé, having long ago earned the right to that uniquely Brazilian honor. By her one name, we know her as simply Marta.
Among the reasons for her fame are four FIFA World Player of the Year honors, eight domestic titles, two continental championships, two Olympic medals, and a World Cup runners up finish in 2007. Still only 28 years old, Marta has scored 82 times in 73 international appearances, numbers diminished by a federation that often goes quiet outside World Cup and Olympic cycles.
Almost three years removed from her last Player of the Year award, the era of Marta seemed to be fading, until this May. Then, in an at times dominant performance against defending European champions Wolfsburg, Marta scored twice while leading Tyresö to the brink of Champions League glory. While the Swedish club would ultimately come up short, Marta reminded the world why she still deserves her place among the world’s biggest stars.
This soccer world’s moving too fast for us, at times. Just as we’ve gotten used to the 36-year-old Didier Drogba — almost forgetting the iconic, domineering presence he was in his prime — so we’ve let our memories of prime Marta be overwhelmed by today’s emerging stars.
But she is only 28, and as she showed last year for Tyresö and this year for Rosengard, her talents still match any female player’s in the world. And, as her place in Puma’s latest campaign shows, her commercial relevance may be as strong as ever.
Consider this: At her age, next summer’s World Cup is unlikely to be her last. Though it seems like she’s been around forever, Marta will likely be leading Brazil in 2019, and in the Olympics the year afterward. And although talents like Alex Morgan will continue to emerge, there’ll be one player casual fans worldwide think of first when they’re asked about women’s soccer:
The Fake numbers
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