Carolina Morace’s career achievements are quite simply staggering. A pioneering superstar of Italian women’s football, Morace scored 105 goals in a 153-match international career, and hit the back of the net over 500 times in 20-odd years at the top level. Morace was just as productive at club level having claimed Italy’s *Capocannoniere *(top scorer) on 12 occasions. She is even considered by many to be the first female coach of a professional men’s team, having taken the reins at C1 club Viterbese in Italy’s third tier in 1999.
Above all, though, is a landmark accomplishment that will remain in the history books forever. In 1991 Morace scored the first-ever hat-trick at a FIFA Women’s World Cup™. It seems appropriate that such a unique and important milestone belongs to such an icon of the game.
*Le Azzurre *took the field on the second day of competition at China PR 1991 against Chinese Taipei, and Morace wasted little time in bringing her considerable goalscoring reputation to the global stage, completing a treble midway through the second half.
Curiously enough, Morace has only limited memories of the day that she carved her name into the history books. Even more remarkably, it was only a few years ago that Morace became aware that her hat-trick from some two decades earlier was the first.
“I don’t have so many memories of the tournament,” Morace told FIFA.com. “I’m a person that never celebrated too much when I scored. I don’t know why. Of course there was excitement though. I was young and when you scored three goals for your national team there is always excitement, and you are proud and you think you have done something extraordinary.
“I do recall as Italians we found it very difficult to adapt [in China]. We brought our own food – parmesan, prosciutto, pasta – and before every match our team manager cooked pasta for everybody.”
A former Italy and Canada coach, Morace has lived in Australia for the past few years operating her own coaching academy, and she stills regularly travels to diverse locations all over the world in her role as a FIFA instructor.
*A tiger in China *Known as La Tigre, “because my team-mates said my eyes were like a killer when I used to play”, the Venice-born Morace says the significance of the first-ever Women’s World Cup was mostly unappreciated by the players.
“At the time, no,” said Morace, when asked was she aware of the ground-breaking magnitude of the initial tournament. “When you were a player at that time you don’t realise that you are a *pioniere *(pioneer), and that you are making history. So everything was like normal and you just think ‘I have to score because I’m the No9 and that is my role’. And it is only later that you fully understand you are in the first World Cup on the other side of the world, and making history.
“But, having said that, when we were there the feeling was that it was an important thing. FIFA gave a lot of attention to the tournament even at the time, and the organisation was good. And we had journalists there following the team.”
Morace, who was relatively well-known at that time, partly due to her work on Italian TV – another pioneering step – said coverage of the team and her goalscoring feats was reasonably high during the period they were in China.
“The big newspapers followed us – Corriere della Sera and La Gazzetta dello Sport – even on the front page saying that we were playing. And of course my name would appear prominently because I was the goalscorer.
“But at that time there was little [general] attention for women’s football, and if you did something good nobody cared. It was a very different time in society.”
The FIFA Women’s World Cup has produced many great goalscorers over the past 25 years, but no matter how many names join the list, it will always come back to the original – Carolina Morace.