2002: Marta debuts along with the U-19s
When 16-year-old Marta first strutted her stuff on the pitches of Vancouver and Edmonton at the inaugural FIF U-19 Women's World Championship two years ago, all who saw her knew full well they were witnessing something special. Playing with the boys on the streets of Dois Riachos since the age of seven, Marta Vieira Da Siolva emerged to the world as a fully formed women's football player -- and she's only been getting better since.
At the inaugural FIFA U-19 Women's World Championship in Canada , she scored six times to finish third top scorer behind Canada's Christine Sinclair and current U.S. senior international Heather O'Reilly. Though her goal tally may have failed to see her to the top of the heap, it was her ability on the ball and combination of speed, elegance and power that turned heads throughout the course of the competition.
Day after day, the press tribune - first in Vancouver, then farther north in chilly Edmonton - buzzed with whispers and applause over the sultry skills and bustling delicate bravado of young Marta. Her name was on everyone's lips, and FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter may well have been thinking of the teenager when he said "the technical and tactical level of the football here has been astonishing."
Through the group stages, she was untouchable. Putting a rather one-dimensional Brazilian team squarely on her shoulders, Marta led the side to three straight wins and a spot at the top of the group in British Columbia's picturesque urban hub of Vancouver.
Though she failed to score in the first match - a 5-3 goal fest against Mexico - she set up both of Daniela's and looked by far the most influential and inventive player on the pitch. Running at defenders, taking them on in bunches, her spirit was unquenchable and her abilities were ample.
Against eventual group runners-up Germany, it was again the number 10 who orchestrated things from the centre of the park in a 1-0 win. And though she had made those in attendance take note in her first two outings, Marta's breakout performance came in the final group match with France. With three goals in the 4-0 win, she suddenly became the toast of Vancouver.
Despite the dominant performance, she remained affably humble. "The important thing is that we won," she said after the match. "I was fortunate to score three goals."
And once again in the quarter-final against Australia, Marta wasted no time turning on the style. Scoring in only the fourth minute on the end of a savage solo run, it looked like turning into a rout. But after going in 3-1 at the break, a courageous Aussie fight back forced extra time. Daniela went on to break the deadlock in 100th minute, sending the Brazilians through to the last four.
But up against the sensational and physically robust hosts, Marta was always going to have her work cut out. In front of a massive turn-out of 38,000 fans at Edmonton's Commonwealth stadium, the seductive little Samba Queen rose to the occasion with the ferocity and audacity of a true champion.
After going behind on the stroke of half time, she dragged the South Americans back with a finely taken goal in minute 69 to force extra time and then penalties. Marta hit home from the spot, but in the end, it was just not enough. Canada went on to the final, where they lost in front of over 60,000 supporters to favourites U.S. in a dramatic golden goal stunner. It was a moment of great theatre, to cap off a fantastic inaugural tournament.
And Marta - named to the tournament's best eleven and clearly one of its breakout stars - more than played her part.