Formiga reveals to FIFA.com that she will play at France 2019
The 40-year-old believes Brazil and France can win it
She was venerated alongside Marie Curie and J.K. Rowling
Will she or won’t she?
Will the owner of multiple FIFA Women’s World Cup™ records swell them in the country she calls home next year?
Formiga insisted not when she temporarily abandoned her international retirement in March ‘strictly’ to help Brazil quality for France 2019.
That didn’t stop Seleção supporters saturating social media with the question and hankering for her reconsideration thereafter. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder refused to relent – until now.
“I plan to play in the World Cup,” the 40-year-old told FIFA.com ahead of Brazil’s friendly against France in Nice. “I hadn’t told anybody until now, but yes, that’s what I want to do.
“I only came out of retirement due to necessity. The Seleção didn’t have anybody in my position, anyone who played in my style. The coach said he needed me. The Seleção needed to qualify for the World Cup.
“I spoke to Vadao. I gave it a lot thought. The thought of Brazil missing out of the World Cup, it weighed heavily on me and eventually I decided to help. I had no intention to carry on and play in the World Cup, but breaking barriers spurs me on.”
If she plays in France, Formiga will become the first player to go to seven Women's World Cups – Japan's Homare Sawa has also been to six – and outrank Christie Rampone to become the oldest female in the competition’s history. She’ll also have a shot at extending her own record as its oldest-ever markswoman.
Another milestone has the Salvador native’s attention. Only two outfield players have appeared in the senior global finals in their 40s: Rampone was, 11 days after her 40th birthday, afforded a few minutes as a substitute in the Canada 2015 Final, and Roger Milla made two appearances and famously found the target at USA 1994.
“I’ll be 41 by the World Cup,” said Formiga. “It would be really cool to emulate Roger Milla and make history. Everyone remembers watching him on TV.
So what’s the secret of Formiga’s longevity?
“I rest a lot,” she said, laughing. “I didn’t intend to still be here, but my passion for football is so strong that I don’t want to stop. Overcoming hurdles encourages me, drives me."
Brazil fell at the penultimate and ultimate hurdle at USA 1999 and China 2007 respectively. Formiga is eager to go one better.
“I’m not sure what’s been the best Seleção I’ve played in,” she said. “They were different squads. 2007 was a great team.
“Football has changed. There have been renovations. When there are changes, your standard drops until you can find a way to play together.
“Vadao has been getting the Seleção there. We’ve had some good results. We’ve got some great players. Marta is still Marta. We can, without doubt, win this World Cup.
“It’s great that it will be here in France. There’s such a buzz about it. The people are really happy, excited. It’s going to be a wonderful tournament.
“France are one of the biggest threats to our hopes. They could definitely win it.
“They’ve tested out a lot of players. What the coach [Corinne Diacre] has done really well is blend the experienced players with the youngsters. France have some of the best players in the world – in defence, midfield and attack – and they also have some really promising youngsters.
“Marie-Antoinette Katoto, who I play with at PSG, is outstanding. She’s fast, skilful, scores lots of goals. She’s going to be one of the best players in the world.”
Formiga feels Brazil, too, have a forward destined for greatness.
“Kerolin has a huge future,” she said of the 18-year-old, who dazzled in August’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and is in the senior squad for the second time. “She’s got so much talent and she doesn’t have fear. If she keeps her feet on the ground, she can go as far as she wants. It’s up to her."
On the subject of kids, earlier this year Formiga’s endeavours were enshrined when the esteemed Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa created characters for a new series, Donas da Rua, to honour some of the greatest women in history. Among those saluted were physicist and Nobel Prize pathfinder Marie Curie; revolutionary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo; English mathematician and essayist Ada Lovelace; Harry Potter inventor and philanthropist J.K. Rowling; and Miraildes Maciel Mota, AKA Formiga.
“It was really cool,” said Formiga of the tribute. “Years ago nobody could have imagined that a women’s footballer would be honoured in this way. It helps opens door. It helps young girls to believe they can achieve things.”
A player renouncing international retirement and, at 41, lifting her first Women’s World Cup trophy… now that’d be befitting of a Rowling fantasy novel or a Mauricio de Sousa comic book.