Arguably the best female footballer China has produced, Sun Wen is also amongst the world's all-time greats taking into account her exceptional talents and extraordinary performances at a global level. During her 13-year playing career she won numerous honours with China, including finishing runners-up at the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 1999TM. Her achievements highlighted by the ultimate individual accolade of being named the FIFA Women’s Player of the Century, alongside former USA star Michelle Akers.**
*Born on 6 April 1973 in Shanghai, Sun Wen started playing football at the age of eight at a local sports school. The talented forward developed into an emerging star at such a pace that she made it into the national team when she had just turned seventeen. It didn’t take the teenager too long to win a regular place among coach Shang Ruihua’s line-up. Sun figuring prominently at the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup China 1991, during which she started in all four matches scoring in the 2-2 against Denmark as China stormed into the last eight. *
*Sun became the undisputed leading player of her side going into the second edition of the global showpiece four years later at Sweden 1995. The progress made by the team was evident as China swept past the likes of Denmark and Sweden to reach the semi-finals, only to lose out to Germany by a solitary-goal. Despite this, Sun went on to impress the world at 1996 Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in Atlanta, helping her side to the final where they were only edged out by hosts USA. *
The silver-medal performance was China’s best-ever result at a major international competition but Sun’s finest individual display was yet to come. The next FIFA Women’s World Cup would see her in rampant form, netting seven times to fire China to second place while she won herself the adidas Golden Ball award. China may have again lost to USA in the final, but Sun and her team-mates were dubbed Steel Roses due to their spirited display.
**In her days the gifted No9 was unstoppable on the pitch, mesmerising opponents and fans alike with her sublime skills. With an uncanny nose for goal, she was a defender's worst nightmare and was capable of scoring with either foot. Despite being adored throughout her career by the Chinese public, Sun maintained a low profile off the pitch with her humility disarming critics and rivals alike. Appointed the vice-director of the Shanghai Youth Sports Training Centre in 2010, the former star has embarked on a mission to pass her footballing knowledge on to the next generation.