An incredible 90,185 fans flocked to the Pasadena Rose Bowl to witness the final of the FIFA Women's World Cup 1999™ between hosts USA and China PR. Ten years later, in April 2009, another 44,825 supporters packed the Frankfurt Arena, this time for a friendly between world champions Germany and the team they had beaten to win the FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007, Brazil.
There can be no doubt that enthusiasm for the women's game is growing all the time, with fans right around the world eagerly anticipating next summer's FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany. Women's football is constantly improving in terms of technique, tactics and standards of play, something reflected in the growing number of people following the fortunes of stars from the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
Passion, skill and a touch of magic
"Women's football is getting more and more attractive. It's become both more physical and more skilful. The levels of technique on display are improving and you see a lot of tricks and fancy footwork," said former German playmaker Renate Lingor, famed for her measured passing and exquisite ball control, in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com a few months ago. Iconic US star Mia Hamm was equally effusive, stating: "I'm really impressed with the passion that people now have for women's football!"
This development could never have happened without the presence of some household names. Star players like Mia Hamm and Michelle Akers in the USA, Sun Wen in China, Brazil's Sissi, Germany's Doris Fitschen and Italy's Carolina Morace blazed a trail, both as poster girls and examples for others to follow. The current crop of players, including Brazil's Marta, Birgit Prinz from Germany, England's Kelly Smith and USA's Abby Wambach, have built up their own fan-bases, while the future looks bright thanks to such burgeoning talents as Rosie White from New Zealand and Mana Iwabuchi from Japan.
Who are the real stars of women's football? Which players have really left their mark on the sport? And which ones have the most impressive trophy hauls? FIFA.com can now give you an answer to all of these questions on the women's game. In a new section entitled "The stars of women's football" which has been added to the official tournament website of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011, you can find portraits of all the big names from the past, present and future.
You can enjoy this wonderful archive and take a look back at the careers of some of the biggest names ever to play the women's game. Just click on the link in the right-hand navigation to find all you need to know about Akers, Hamm, Marta, Prinz and a host of other stars.
Have your say
Our list of course is far from exhaustive and as the Germany 2011 draws ever nearer, we will be adding more women's football stars on a weekly basis. Click on 'Add your comment' and tell us who in your opinion deserves a mention in our new section, and maybe your favourites will soon be included on the site.