With a 35-year-old, a 33-year-old and a five-time winner in the running this year, the FIFA's Women's Player of the Year award for 2013 is sure to be won by a true stalwart of the female game.
The nominees hail from three different continents, and bring very different talents to their respective sides. However, what Nadine Angerer, Marta and Abby Wambach all have in common is a lengthy history of sterling service to their clubs, national teams and the sport as a whole.
With next month’s FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala drawing ever closer, FIFA.com takes a closer look at this all-star trio vying for women’s football’s top individual honour.
Represents: Germany & Brisbane Roar (AUS)
Profile: A dependable and often inspirational keeper whose shot-stopping ability and organisational skills have seen her set the standard for her position in the women’s game.
Greatest achievements: Football being a team sport, Angerer would quite rightly list her two FIFA Women’s World Cups™ (2003, 2007) and five consecutive UEFA Women’s EURO titles. This year, though, also saw her pick up a notable personal honour as the first-ever recipient of the UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe Award.
2013 highlight: A remarkable match-winning performance in the EURO final in which she saved two penalties en route to a clean sheet, a 1-0 win over Norway and yet another European title.
Quote: “Nadine was our best player. She is the reason why we are European champions,” Bianca Schmidt, Germany team-mate.
Represents: Brazil & Tyreso (SWE)
Profile: A quick, skilful and dynamic player who emerged as the finest natural talent of her generation.
Greatest achievements: Marta’s tally of five FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year awards, all won between 2006 and 2010, is a record that speaks for itself. The Brazilian is also the joint-leading scorer in FIFA Women’s World Cup history with 14 goals, and will hope to move past Birgit Prinz and take sole ownership of that record at Canada 2015.
2013 highlight: This has been a year in which the 27-year-old has once again established herself in the demanding Swedish Damallsvenskan and, more recently, led Tyreso to the first UEFA Women’s Champions League quarter-final in their history.
Quote: “Marta has always been my idol on the pitch, and still is. She has always been there for the team and scored important goals,” Veronica Boquete, Tyreso team-mate.
Represents: USA & Western New York Flash
Profile: A prolific yet unselfish centre-forward who blends awesome physical attributes with intelligence, courage and a supreme eye for goal.
Greatest achievements: As well as being the reigning FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, and the first American recipient in a decade, Wambach is a six-time winner of US Soccer’s Athlete of the Year award. On the team front, she has won two Olympic gold medals, the first of which she helped secure at Athens 2004 with a dramatic 112th-minute winner in the final against Brazil.
2013 highlight: An Algarve Cup with USA and a NWSL Shield with her club, Western New York Flash, made this a productive year for the striker. Her headline-grabbing moment arrived in June, though, when she surpassed idol Mia Hamm’s long-standing scoring record of 158 and became the highest scorer in the history of international football.
Quote: “I don't think there's anybody comparable in women's football to Abby. Worldwide, she's in a class of her own. Nobody even comes close," Tom Sermanni, USA coach.