Arguably the globe’s most prolific producers of footballing talent and five-time winners of the FIFA World Cup™, Brazil has waited a long time for its female players to begin emulating their male counterparts. Though that struggle is by no means over, the remarkable rise of Marta Vieira da Silva from a tough childhood in Dois Riachos, Alagoas state has given the country a worthy footballing queen to join O Rei (the King) Pele.

Marta took her first steps on the professional ladder at the age of just 14, when she left her native city to try her luck with Rio de Janeiro side Vasco da Gama. Her spell at A Gigante da Colina was followed with a move to Sao Martins until in 2004, at 18 years of age, she packed her bags once more and headed for Swedish outfit Umea IK. This was another landmark event in a year which also featured the adidas Golden Ball award at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Thailand and helping Brazil to silver at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Athens.

Individual and team honours have been coming ever since for the Brazilian No10, whose performances have helped turn A Seleção into serious contenders at every major tournament. Winner of a record four FIFA Women’s World Player awards from 2006 to 2009, Marta will be determined to hold onto her crown after another sparkling year for club and country.

Highlights in 2010
Still just 24, Marta’s personal trophy cabinet is already fit to burst, particularly after the events of a glory-laden 2010. This year the Brazilian genius was a key figure in club side FC Gold Pride’s run to the United States’ WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) title, when she also took home the top scorer and MVP awards for the second successive season. Saving plenty of magic for A Seleção, Marta starred in November’s South American Women's Championship, with Brazil winning all seven of their games to qualify in style for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™.

The stat
9 – The number of goals Marta struck in seven appearances at the aforementioned South American Women's Championship held in Ecuador, a performance that earned her the competition’s top scorer and best player awards.

2010 in words
“Of course I’m hoping to be in the running for the World Player of the Year title again. That said, I always say that this award is essentially a collective honour too, because you can never win anything by yourself.”
On her bid to win a fifth consecutive FIFA Women’s World Player award.

“Brazil have got higher hopes for 2011 after the time we spent training and competing together that culminated in winning the South American title. Now we’re focusing on keeping up the good work through to the World Cup in 2011 and the Olympics in 2012.”
On the continental victory at Ecuador 2010.

“On a personal level I feel very fulfilled. Of course you always try to grow as a player to continue winning awards, but what I really dream of is becoming a world champion with A Seleção and exchanging the silver medals we’ve won at the last two Olympics for a gold. I know we’ve got the ability to do that.”
On her remaining ambitions in the game.