From the pioneers to the stars of tomorrow
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The FIFA Women’s World Cup Germany 2011™, where 336 players will spend 26 June to 17 July competing for the prestigious trophy, gets underway in a few short days. The five previous editions of the tournament have featured 148 matches, 539 goals, and the emergence onto the world stage of a clutch of the game’s greatest players, including the likes of Mia Hamm, Sun Wen and Hanna Ljungberg.

Mariel Margaret ‘Mia’ Hamm, the best-known player on a USA team which swept all before them in the 1990s, finished with an astonishing 275 appearances for her country. Sweden’s Hanna Ljungberg earned 130 caps in an illustrious international career between 1996 and 2008, a spell which yielded a record 72 goals in a yellow shirt. The prolific pair are just two of the featured greats of the past in the "Stars" section of the official FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 website, where we profile the pioneering figures without whom the game would never have grown and developed at such an extraordinary rate.

FIFA.com also turns the spotlight on the biggest names in the game right now, and looks at a number of candidates for greatness in the future. Our selection of current players includes Brazil superstar Marta, Germany’s Birgit Prinz, Kelly Smith of England, USA centre-forward Abby Wambach and Sweden’s Lotta Schelin. The FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany will be Birgit Prinz’s last appearance on a major footballing stage, as the three-time FIFA World Player of the Year is to call time on her international career after the tournament. Even before a ball has been kicked this summer, the 33-year-old boasts the exceptional career stats of 128 goals in 212 international appearances.

She's a fabulous character and she'll have a great career, but she knows as well as anyone that she still has a lot of work to do.
Inka Grings on Alexandra Popp.

But as is always the way with elite sport, the next generation of outstanding performers is already on the starting blocks. Rosie White of New Zealand, Mana Iwabuchi of Japan, Norway starlet Isabell Herlovsen and Alexandra Popp from Germany are the cream of a promising crop, ready and willing to stamp their personalities on the world game. "She's a fabulous character and she'll have a great career, but she knows as well as anyone that she still has a lot of work to do," Inka Grinks said of Popp, her team-mate for club and country, in an exclusive FIFA.com interview.

To help you find out more, and for the answers to all your questions about the biggest names in the game, consult the "Stars" section of the official FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 website, where FIFA.com profiles the biggest names of the past and present, and potentially the future too. We can promise all fans of the women’s game a really great read!

So why not join us and explore the world of the stars? Just follow the link in the right navigation and find out much, much more about Hamm, Marta, Prinz, Popp and Co.