Just like in the men’s team sport, it takes talent and determination to make it big in soccer, as well as some luck avoiding injuries like concussions. One study finds that performing a “header” while playing soccer — hitting the ball with your head— significantly increases the likelihood of getting a concussion. Even the pros have to worry about the risk of a concussion.
The World Cup is the most watched sporting event on earth, happening only every four years. However, the men’s and women’s leagues are on alternating schedules, so we’re actually treated to the big games every two years.
When the World Cup is dominated by some of the most powerful legends in female soccer, it is something you won’t want to miss. Since women started playing the sport professionally, there have been many excellent talents to take the pitch, and you may have a hard time narrowing down which are the greats. Well, you don’t have to worry, as StudyFinds consulted the experts to create a list of the best female soccer players of all time to ever take the field. Let us know if your favorite player made it in the comments below!
The List: Best Female Soccer Players of All Time, Per Sports Experts
1. Marta Vieiera da Silva
She is considered the female equivalent of Pelé in her home country of Brazil, and she’s been named FIFA’s female world player more than any other. Marta is also the Women’s World Cup all-time leading goal scorer.
“Marta Vieiera da Silva is the only soccer player, male or female, to be named the World Player of the Year six times, with five straight wins from 2006 to 2010,” writes Stadium Talk. “Forbidden from playing soccer with boys as a child, the Women’s World Cup career scoring leader created makeshift balls out of old grocery bags to hone her skills.”
“Marta, nicknamed ‘Pele in skirts’ by the Brazilian master, can do it all,” notes The Guardian. “The world has lost track of how many times she has turned a defender around and left her in the dust. That includes dribbling confounding foes with her superb skill, creating goals thanks to her vision, and scoring them thanks to a tenacious desire to succeed.”
2. Mia Hamm
The United States’ famous forward made her debut at the age of 15, and since then she’s become the face of the game. Mia Hamm is also the only player to have won the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year Award for five years in a row.
“The first global superstar of her sport, Mia Hamm was the face of the 1999 World Cup-winning squad that transformed women’s soccer from niche activity to a sport with staying power in the U.S.,” states Biography. “But for all her Nike commercials and magazine spreads, it’s easy to forget the dominance she once displayed on the pitch, her speed, ball control and vision producing 158 career international goals (third all-time) and 144 assists (still a record as of June 2019).”
“An icon of the women’s game, Hamm won two gold medals and twice lifted the World Cup,” writes The18. “She’s third all time in international goals with 158, and she was twice named the FIFA World Player of the Year.”
And Open Goaaal USA writes, “Hamm, at the height of her playing career, was a massive media star. Widely regarded as the most marketable athlete of her generation, she had numerous sponsorship deals, appeared in TV commercials with Michael Jordan, and had her own video game.”
3. Christine Sinclair
Canada’s star female soccer player is known for her prolific goal scoring abilities. She was even honored with her own stamp in her home country. As The Sportster notes, “Sinclair has been a member of the Canadian National Team since 2000 and has been a vital part of their success.”
Open Goaaal USA writes of the “physically active” Sinclair, “She is known for her athleticism and skills on the ball and her accurate finishing. Canadian Player of the Year on no less than 14 occasions, she helped her country win the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup, the 2011 Pan American Games, and also secure bronze medals at both the 2012 Olympics in London, and the subsequent Games in Rio four years later.
“Over nearly two decades with the national team and various professional clubs, Sinclair has carved out a reputation as a player with a knack for positioning herself in the right place at the right time,” states Biography. “Sinclair nearly toppled the mighty Americans single-handedly with her hat trick in [the] 2012 Olympic semifinals, and she scored the game-winner in the Bronze medal match vs. Brazil in the 2016 Olympics.”
4. Abby Wambach
A striker known for her physicality and aggression, Abby Wambach was a force to be reckoned with. She is one of the top goal scorers in women’s international soccer, and she was the first player to be named Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press.
“Abby Wambach was the top high school soccer recruit in the United States in 1997, then led the University of Florida to its first NCAA championship in women’s soccer in 1998,” writes Stadium Talk. “Wambach finished her career as the world’s leading goal scorer in international competition with 184, and her last-minute goal off a header (her signature shot) to defeat Brazil in the 2004 Olympic finals is considered one of the greatest goals ever.”
The Highlights App calls Wambach one of U.S. Soccer’s most explosive forwards. “Abby Wambach scored 184 goals in 255 games for the national team, she is also a six-time winner of the U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year award and World Cup champion. Her autobiography, Forward, was a national best seller.”
And The Guardian notes, “Abby Wambach could be likened to a human battering ram, playing as though her body was invulnerable, although it wasn’t. Wambach never saw a heading opportunity she didn’t like, and she scored more than a third of her goals in the air en route a world-record 184 international strikes in 255 matches (and, by the way, she had 75 assists).
5. Birgit Prinz
At just 16, Birgit Prinz debuted for her home country to score a game winning goal, though she would go on to score hundreds more through her famous career. Germany’s greatest female soccer player retired at 34 to become a sports psychologist in Bundesliga.
“She’s still active in sports and is even the current president of the German Football Association,” notes Crix11. “An amazing striker, Birgit helped Germany win two Women’s World Cups which led to her being named Player of the year three times.”
“Prinz is regarded as probably the best female European footballer ever, and is the second-highest goalscorer in World Cup history with 14 goals to her name, having won the tournament twice,” writes Squawka. “She was crowned FIFA World Player of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and has won the Women’s Bundesliga five times, the UEFA Cup (the former name of the Champions League) three times and the European Championships five times.”
The18 states, “A three-time FIFA World Player of the Year and two-time World Cup champion, Prinz is the finest German international of all-time. She recorded 128 goals in 214 appearances for her country and was a three-time bronze medalist. She also finished runner-up four times in FIFA World Player of the Year voting.”
You might also be interested in:
- Best Soccer Balls
- Best Women’s Tennis Players of All Time
- Best Women’s Golfers of All Time
- Best Female Actors
- Stadium Talk
- The Guardian
- The Highlights App
- Open Goaaal USA
- The Sportster
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.