Lotta Schelin (Sweden) Born: 27 February 1984, Stockholm, Sweden 185 international caps (88 goals)

If Charlotta Eva ‘Lotta’ Schelin had listened to her doctor many years ago, the football world would have been denied a remarkable talent. The Stockholm-born striker took her tentative first steps onto a football pitch with sister Camilla at Kallereds SK, before moving to Hallesaker IF and Molnlycke IF. Yet as a teenager, Schelin suffered from severe back problems caused by a growth spurt, prompting her doctor to suggest that she give up football. As you might have guessed, she did not follow this advice and instead embarked on an intensive programme of strength and muscle training – with successful results.

Schelin made her debut in Sweden’s Damallsvenskan championship at the age of 17 for Landvetter IF (now Kopparbergs/Goteborg FC). She played for the top-flight club until 2008 and reached the 2002 Swedish Cup final during her time there, before a serious injury in August 2002 sidelined the talented striker for almost a year.

Shortly after returning to action in June 2003, Schelin received her first call-up to the Swedish national team squad. She made her international debut at the Algarve Cup against none other than the hosts of this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup™, France.

Since making her international debut, Schelin won a total of 185 caps for the Damlandslaget, scoring 88 goals along the way. The prolific goalscorer featured at the UEFA Women’s EUROs in 2005, 2009 and 2013, the Olympic Football Tournaments at Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio de Janeiro 2016 and was part of the Sweden squad for the Women’s World Cup 2007 in China, 2011 in Germany and 2015 in Canada.

Her greatest success with the national team came when Sweden finished third at the Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011 and reached the final of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament at Rio 2016. Back in her homeland, Schelin was named female footballer of the year five times.

The striker can also look back on an impressive career at club level. During her time with Olympique Lyon, Schelin won three UEFA Women’s Champions League trophies, eight French championship titles and five French Cups.

In August 2018, Swedish women’s football's biggest icon hung up her boots for good due to chronic headaches resulting from a neck injury in June 2017. "It has been a tough year and it is still tough," she said after announcing her retirement. "I’m proud to have represented all of you."

Major honours

  • Silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games

  • Third place at the Women’s World Cup 2011

  • Three-time UEFA Women’s Champions League winner with Olympique Lyon

  • Eight-time French Championship winner with Olympique Lyon

  • Five-time French Cup champion with Olympique Lyon

  • Swedish female footballer of the year in 2006, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 (record winner)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 19:  Sweden pose with their silver medals following defeat during the Women's Olympic Gold Medal match between Sweden and Germany at Maracana Stadium on August 19, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Memories On comparisons with Zlatan Ibrahimovic "The comparisons are nice in a way. After all, Zlatan’s one of the best in the world; a real assassin on the field with fantastic technical skills and an awesome will to win. But although he inspires me, and I love watching him play, there are big differences between us too. And I like that young girls look up to me as Lotta Schelin, not as ‘the female Zlatan’."

On Hanna Ljungberg, whose Swedish goalscoring record she broke "When I first came into the national team, I had two fantastic senior strikers to work with in Hanna and Victoria Svensson. That was such an amazing learning experience to have players of that quality and experience to watch, just picking up on all the good things that they did."

On Rio 2016 "It’s been really great in Rio. It’s been an amazing experience. I’ve never been in the village for so long [at past Olympics], and never played two important games at the same time as staying in the village. It’s been really great to do that. Of course in a competitive way of seeing it, it’s harder. It takes a lot of strength to go to the dining room and back; it’s a lot of space, a lot of distance to go. It takes energy too, but that’s the same for everyone. I’m really happy to have been in Rio for so long and really like the Olympic experience."

Pia Sundhage on Lotta Schelin "She is a fantastic role model. I had the privilege of being close to many footballers – there are some that stand out, and she is one of them. She is a star who is also a team player. At the 2013 EUROs she and ‘Kosse’ [Kosovare Asllani] were so fantastic. They both scored plenty of goals. But it was the same Lotta Schelin who did not play up front at the Olympic Games [2016] but instead played as a left-winger and had to spend plenty of time defending. I think it was a challenge and she did a wonderful job because she is a team player. There are not many stars who can deal with that, but she did."