Marta’s consistency is such that her inclusion as a Finalist for The Best FIFA Women’s Player 2016 marks the 12th time in the last 13 year-end awards that she has been in the top three. The feisty, skilful forward won a remarkable five awards in succession from 2006 and has also played in four FIFA Women’s World Cups™ and Olympic Football Tournaments.
One of eight Olympic flag-bearers at the Rio 2016 opening ceremony, she was a leader on the Brazil side that finished fourth on home soil, and was also part of the panel of football experts that chose this year's nominees for the FIFA Puskás Award, the FIFA Fair Play Award and the FIFA Fan Award.
When FIFA.com asked the 30-year-old veteran about being nominated and whether winning big individual prizes such as The Best Football Awards are motivation for her, Marta was characteristically humble. “Of course every player at this level dreams about winning a prize like that,” she said. “I cannot explain how it feels really. Maybe when I am done playing I will be able to say better how important it was to me. I still don’t believe I am one of the best players in the world even though I have been at these awards many times.”
Commonly acknowledged as one of the most talented players the women’s game has ever seen, Marta has also set herself apart with a strong work ethic and her passionate efforts on the pitch. Her focus on improving is still as strong as ever despite her success, and her diligent attitude comes out when asked about another trip to Zurich for The Best. “The only things I think about are doing as well as I can in every game with my club and national team and showing the younger players the way to play, how hard you have to work and to have good habits.
“But, of course, I would be very proud and happy if the things that I have done have made people think I am one of the best players this year. But I don’t think about it.”
Women’s football on show
Often referred to as the ‘female Pele’ – even by the three-time FIFA World Cup™ winner himself – Marta has done much in her career to win over football fans to the women’s game. Along with her flamboyant skills and memorable goals, she has also been a gracious ambassador for the sport around the world, winning trophies with clubs in Brazil, the United States and Sweden. She says that FIFA’s commitment to supporting the development of women’s football globally and placing it so prominently within The Best FIFA Football Awards is a great help.
“It is so important for women’s football to be involved in this kind of ceremony,” she said referring to the 9 January 2017 event. “We know there are differences between the men’s and women’s game, but it gets closer and closer, and we get better and better. It’s good that FIFA is so serious about women’s football because it shows there is appetite for the game and that creates even more interest. So for young girls who are just starting to play the game, they have heroes they can look up to.”
Obviously a favourite of supporters and football insiders alike, Marta backs having fans play a part in voting for the awards, but notes that it is important to keep the opinions of experts weighted. “I think it is interesting to have fans involved, who after all think with their hearts when it comes to the game. But it’s important that coaches and captains are involved because they know what you have to do in football every day to get to that place. They know what it means to be there, how hard you have to work to play that kind of football at the top, top level.”