(Image Credit: Orlando Pride twitter)
One of the greatest one-name wonders to ever play the game has left her mark on one of its biggest tournaments. Marta has competed in five Olympic Games, winning silver medals in 2004 and 2008, and a heartbreaking fourth place finish in 2016 on home turf. While there may be a gold medal sized hole in the Pride’s #10’s international trophy case, what she has given the game through the Olympic tournament is worth much more.
An icon for her bold lipstick and tenacious play, Marta has long been one of the main attractions of the women’s game, and of the game in general. Fans of all allegiances can’t help but marvel at her flair and quick feet on the ball and her punishing pace off of it. The Brazilian star completes the package with one of the most wicked shots in the game that she deploys with marksman-type accuracy.
Tokyo 2020 was Marta’s fifth and most likely final Olympics, but the forward would not go out without a bang. Her goal in Brazil’s opener against China made her the first player to score in five Olympic tournaments. She had previously been the first player, male or female, to score in five FIFA World Cups, before Christine Sinclair repeated the feat in 2019. By the time Brazil was eliminated in penalty kicks by Canada, Marta had ascended to the top of Brazil’s all-time goal scorer list with 112 markers putting her ahead of soccer royalty Pelé.
While the Brazilian Federation has demonstrated no rush in uplifting the women’s game, or it’s biggest active star, Pelé himself recognizes what Marta has done for the sport in the country and abroad, even dubbing her “Pelé in skirts” some years ago.
Other than becoming the first to score in five Games, Marta’s most memorable Olympic moment should go down as when she forced the USWNT to completely overhaul their style of play ahead of the 2008 Games in anticipation of facing the Brazilian magician again. The World Cup in 2007 saw Marta thrash the States in the semi-final and score what is still one of the greatest goals in tournament history. Heading into the Beijing games, the thinking for the US was to play more possession-based instead of their traditional directness and attempts to just overpower opponents. The less turnovers, the less opportunity Marta would have on the ball. Brazil would go on to lose the gold medal to the US, but forcing a dynasty to change what they do because they’re scared of you is a pretty impressive feat.
The 2008 silver would be Marta’s final Olympic medal, but regardless of the outcome, the end of every tournament seems to be marked with a surge of hope in Brazilian women’s soccer, as their matriarch shows them again and again what it’s like to go out and play, something that the rest of the world has taken notice of.