While the world will be watching Brazil star Neymar at the London 2012 Olympics football tournament, there will be even more of a star lining up for the women’s team.
Marta is more than a Neymar of the women’s game, she is Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined; she is the undisputed, peerless superstar of women’s football.
Team GB women will kick off the games on Wednesday as they take on New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, but it will be the following match where the excitement should be highest.
Brazil take on Cameroon and it will be a rare chance for those present to see probably the greatest player ever in the women’s game strut her stuff.
Marta’s individual success is unprecedented; she was named FIFA World Player of the Year five years in a row between 2006 and 2010.
The 26-year-old forward has spurred her club sides to their respective national titles in almost every season since she left Brazil as an 18-year-old, joining Umea IK in Sweden.
She has won the UEFA Women’s Cup, the Copa Libertadores with Brazilian side Santos, two Women’s Professional Soccer Championships in America and four consecutive Damallsvenskan (Women’s premier division) titles in Sweden.
Marta Vieira da Silva, to give her full name, is as close as you can get to an all-conquering superstar in a sport, with the likes of Michael Jordan of NBA fame, or Wayne Gretzky in NHL.
However, London 2012 will arrive with Marta and her Brazil team-mates having a lot to prove on the international stage.
With all her dominance at club football, Marta has so far fallen short when it comes to major international tournaments and she knows the heartbreak of falling just short keenly.
In Athens 2004 they were defeated by the United States thanks to an Abby Wambach header in extra-time and Beijing 2008 saw a similar scenario, except this time it was Carli Lloyd who secured the gold medal with an extra time strike.
World Cup finals have been no better, with a loss to Germany in 2007 with the tournament held in China. World Cup 2011 saw them labelled as heavy favourites for the crown, but they were denied in the quarter-finals on penalties by, you guessed it, USA.
Marta has been tipped as the woman who will lead her side to glory in nearly every major tournament since she became a regular feature in the Brazil side.
So never mind Neymar and the other young starlets being lauded as the next big things of word football – THE big name is already there and she is desperate to lead her country to glory.
Watch Marta score an incredible Neymar-esque solo goal below…
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