Birgit PRINZ (GER)
Birgit Prinz (Germany) Born: 25 October 1977, Frankfurt am Main, Germany 214 international caps (128 goals)
Dynamic and explosive Ask any German on the street to name a top female footballer, and you can almost guarantee their response will be "Birgit Prinz". The legendary striker has earned such fame and status as a result of consistent world-class performances, unparalleled success and a string of records.
Prinz made her debut for the German national team as a 16-year-old in 1994, and her list of honours since then reads like a wish-list for any aspiring footballer: three FIFA Women's World Cups™, three Olympic bronze medals, five UEFA European Championships, three UEFA Cups, nine German league titles and three German Cups. Her pace, power and nose for goal also helped her pick up a national title abroad with Carolina Courage of the USA in 2002.
Pioneer and record-breaker The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year has already written several chapters in women's football history. Not only has Prinz amassed more caps and goals for Germany than any other player, she is the joint-second highest goalscorer in FIFA Women's World Cup history - level with Abby Wambach on 14 goals. Furthermore, she led her homeland to a record 11-0 victory against Argentina at China 2007 - the biggest win in the history of the tournament - as well as the defence of their world title.
Prinz's importance to the German women's national team was highlighted in the final in Shanghai, where she netted the first in a 2-0 victory over Brazil, again displaying her ability to decide games at the very pinnacle of the sport.
FIFA Women's World Cup USA 2003: Winner
FIFA Women's World Cup China 2007: Winner
UEFA European Women's Championship: Winner (1995, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009)
Olympic bronze medalist: 2000, 2004 and 2008
FIFA World Player of the Year: 2003, 2004 and 2005
Social engagement The striker also uses her reputation to aid matters away from the pitch. "Footballers have the ability to influence people. We can really contribute to helping eradicate racism off the face of the earth," said Prinz in support of FIFA's fight against racism.
Prinz travelled to Afghanistan in August 2005 for five days as an ambassador for FIFA's Learn and Play project, a scheme also supported by the German Olympic Committee. The star joined Holger Obermann, who represents both FIFA and the German FA (DFB) in crisis regions. "You just have to look at the kids' faces to see that this was worthwhile," said Prinz during the trip.
Full circle Anyone who knows Prinz well will tell you that she is never satisfied. The Frankfurt native retired after Germany's quarter-final exit at the 2011 Women's World Cup. Despite not going out on top, in front of her hometown fans no less, expect those Germans on the street to remember the name Birgit Prinz for many years to come.