Marta: The place to be
© Foto-net

The star of Swedish side Umea remains as enthralled as ever with the Gala, this despite making her fourth consecutive appearance at the event. FIFA.com caught up with the mercurial Auriverde star for a chat just before the big event.

FIFA.com: How does it feel to be one of the finalists at the FIFA World Player Gala for the fourth year in a row?
Marta: It's very satisfying and always great to come back here to celebrate this wonderful party. I'm proud to be here. I work towards this every year because it's a pleasure to be surrounded by all these people.

You have a chance of winning back-to-back titles and emulating the great Mia Hamm. How do you feel about that?
It's a goal I set myself every year, as I want to show my full potential. That said, I have two great opponents here who will be very difficult to beat.

What is your opinion of your two rivals here at this year's Gala: Birgit Prinz and Cristiane?
Prinz has been a great player for many years now. She's a very intelligent footballer and someone who has already made her mark at World Cups and has a lot of knowledge to pass on to us younger players. Cristiane, meanwhile, is an up-and-coming talent who is making a big name for herself. While she still has lots to learn, she clearly has a promising future. They are two great players who have very different qualities and levels of experience.

What has been the highlight of 2007 for you?
It's hard to single out just one moment. For example, we took part in the Pan-American games, in which we played at the Maracana in front of 70,000 fans. That was a historic moment for all us Brazil players, as we never dreamed of having such an opportunity. It really was a unique moment. However, there were also many games at the World Cup (in China), like the semi-final against the USA and reaching the final against Germany. I believe that even though we didn't win the title, we still had a wonderful campaign and showed the world that one day we could be number one.

At the Pan-American games, you had the chance to leave your footprints in the Maracana's Hall of Fame. Tell us how that felt.
That was an enormous surprise. Not just anyone is asked to leave their prints there... it's full of superstars like Pele, Zico, Romario or Ronaldo. For me it was a tremendous honour to be the first woman and to open that particular door. Hopefully, we'll see more women's feet there in the future.

In a recent interview with us, Pele described you as "fantastic". How does it feel to hear something like that from O Rei?
(gasps) It's really nice to hear Pele say something like that, as he is the king of football and recognised the world over for his historic feats. He is also a role model for all of us who like football, so his comment really motivates me.

How can you improve your game?
I always keep in mind that I'm not the finished article, that's the only way you can ensure you keep on learning. I have to improve many things on the field, such as my right foot, my aerial prowess and my finishing. I have to fine-tune many aspects of my game and, to this end, I continue to work and develop.

Finally, what are your goals for the future?
There are a lot of things I still have to achieve. I want to win a title with the Brazilian national team. Then next year we have the Olympic Football tournament, although we still have to get past the qualifiers. If we do get to Beijing, for sure we'll be fighting for the gold medal. I also want to win the World Cup and return to this Gala many more times.