Brazil forward Marta is without question one of the biggest names in the women’s game today. With her beloved Seleção, she earned a runners-up medal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in 2007 and has been voted FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year no fewer than five times. Such is the regard in which she is held in her homeland that the Brazilian magazine Epoca named her as one of the country’s most influential personalities in 2009.
After a bittersweet 2011, the 25-year-old is now focusing on her overriding objective for the coming year: the Women's Olympic Football Tournament London 2012, a competition she has won silver at in the two previous editions. With that elusive gold foremost in her mind and a customary smile on her lips, Marta made time recently for an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.
FIFA.com: Marta, on balance, how was 2011 for you in footballing terms?
Marta: It was quite positive, especially from an individual standpoint, although in terms of the national team, we obviously came up short of our main objective, which was to win the Women’s World Cup in Germany. That said, I believe we learned some important lessons at that championship. So yes, the year could have been better, but you can’t get always get what you want, and we just have to keep on working.
What do think prevented Brazil from going further at Germany 2011?
We started well enough by topping our group and the team looked pretty strong. Then unfortunately we lost our quarter-final to USA, a team we’ve had a keen rivalry with for some years now. Our games are usually very hard-fought and decided by some small detail, and that’s what happened again in Germany. We switched off for half a minute at the very end of extra time, allowing them to equalise, and then we lost on penalties. It was a disappointment as I think we had enough quality and a good enough game to reach the final.
Do you feel Lady Luck turned her back on Brazil?
I believe you do need an element of good fortune in every sense, but you also need to be prepared. When two teams of a high calibre face off, there is always a lot of tension, so small details tend to decide the outcome. That’s the main lesson we learned.
Next on the horizon for Brazil is the Women's Olympic Football Tournament. How are you looking forward to that?
[Winning the Olympics] has been a dream of mine for a long time. I already have two silver medals, so now is the time to make amends for those lost finals, and that will require hard work and dedication. If we can make it to the final, then hopefully we’ll have learned from our past mistakes and avoid a repeat of what happened in the two previous editions.
You also have Jorge Barcellos back in charge of the team this year, a coach under whom the team did very well before.
Jorge was with us in 2007 and 2008, and we’re familiar and comfortable with the way he works. He gives you opportunities to express opinions and takes them into account, and we feel at ease with him. I think that’s going to help the squad because the foundations are already there. Furthermore, I like his plans, as they include a lot of training camps, which will be key to getting the best possible performances from us at the tournament.
Looking back over your career to date, what would you say is your fondest memory?
The final of the 2007 Pan American Games at the Maracana, because of the atmosphere, the manner in which the home fans enjoyed it and the significance of the triumph. From that moment on we became stronger and began to really believe in ourselves. It was thanks to this that we reached the World Cup Final in 2007.
Brazilian supporters can be as demanding as they are passionate. Do you feel there’s more pressure on the women’s team these days?
Yes. With the exception of what happened at the 2011 World Cup, people have got used to seeing us make almost every final in recent years. Obviously that leads to raised expectations. Moreover, a few years ago women’s football was still not widely accepted, in part because people didn’t really know us. Today that has changed a lot. People follow our results and know all the players, and as a consequence demand more of us.
Though just shy of your 26th birthday, you’re already one of most experienced players in the team. Has your role changed as a result?
My role is the same as that of the other player’s. While I’ve been with the team a long time now, I’m not as experienced as, say, Formiga, who is one of the players whose example I try to follow. That said, I try to chat with the younger girls to fire them up and take some of the pressure off them. I’ll also discuss past performances with them, identifying things we were lacking or things we need to do in the future.
Lastly, what does the future hold for you at club level?
I’m still not sure. I’ve had offers from Sweden and Russia, but I’ll take my time to weigh up the options before deciding what suits me best.