In the modern world of will and determination to succeed at the highest level, gender plays no role whatsoever in bringing out one’s true potential in the things that they love. Men’s football may be much more far-reached than the female counterpart but the latter has significantly caught the eye of many as the beautiful and bold beasts take the centre-stage to write their names on the history books.
FIFA initiated the first female World Cup in 1991 and within a decade its popularity blossomed many folds as a reported 1,194,221 tickets were sold for the 1999 Women’s World Cup. Even UEFA started organising tournaments for women in the mid-1980s which has provided significantly to the shape of the game in its present professional form. Along the years, many talented and gifted players have graced the field but only the best among the rest have achieved at the highest level. Keeping everything in perspective, here’s a countdown to the top 10 female football athletes who have taken the world by storm:
10. Hedvig Lindahl:
Present Chelsea Ladies team and Swedish national goalkeeper Lindahl has been one of the most consistent shot-stoppers in the game and is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest. Starting her youth career at Gropptorps IF and after a brief stint at Baggetorps IF, she started her senior career for DFK Varmbol in 1996 at the age of 13. After stays at several clubs across the country from Tunafors SK, Malmo FF, Linkopings FC; she made her professional debut for Kopparbergs FC in 2009. She was signed by Chelsea in 2015 and since then has been a key figure in the Blues camp. She has over 130 caps for Sweden and is one of the longest serving female athletes in the country. On 17th of September 2015, Lindahl played her 113th match and broke Elisabeth Leidinge’s record to become the most capped Swedish female goalkeeper.
9. Deyna Castellanos:
Venezuelan footballer Deyna Castellanos started her youth playing career at Escuela de Futbol Juan Arango in 2013 at just 14 years of age. After having a splendid goal-scoring spell at her college level team FSU Seminoles, she was signed by the Santa Clarita Blue Heat and since then has been a regular face for both her club and national team alike. She had previously won the Golden Boot award at the 2014 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup with six goals and was recently awarded the United Women’s Soccer Player of the Year in her first season of senior football. Castellanos is currently the all-time leading goal-scorer of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup tournaments with 11 goals.
8. Ada Hegerberg:
One of the most prolific strikers of her generation, Norwegian prodigy Hegerberg started off her youth career at Sunndal before joining Kolbotn in 2010 as a 16-year old. After a brilliant first senior season, she joined Stabaek before heading for Turbine Potsdam in 2013 where she finished second in both the 2012-13 Bundesliga and the 2012–13 DFB-Pokal. She transferred to Olympique Lyonnais the very next year and had a splendid season in France as she scored 26 goals in 22 league games to lead Lyon to their ninth consecutive Division 1 title. Recently named the BBC Women’s Footballer of 2017, she was previously awarded the 2016 UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe and the Norwegian Sportsperson of the Year 2016.
7. Alex Morgan:
Olympic Gold medallist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion Alex Morgan started her footballing career at her home country Canada’s Southern province playing for the California Golden Bears in 2007 before making her senior team debut for West Coast FC in the year 2008. A central striker, Morgan had several short stints at various different clubs across the country playing for California Storm, Pali Blues, Western New York Flash, Seattle Sounders Women, Portland Thorns FC, Orlando Pride before joining Lyon on loan in 2017. She has over 135 caps for the USA national team and over 80 goals to her name. Apart from being a terrific footballer, she is also an author and has also starred in a few television series. In July 2015; Morgan and her then-Portland Thorns teammates Christine Sinclair and Steph Catley were selected to be the first female athletes to appear on the cover of the video game, FIFA 16.
6. Christine Sinclair:
A veteran of the beautiful game, Canadian forward Christine Sinclair has been one of the most complete player the country had ever produced. Born in the Burnaby district in Canada, the twelve-time recipient of the Canada Soccer Player of the Year Award is her country’s leading goal scorer with 172 goals and only behind Abby Wambach (184) on the worldwide chart. She has played in four FIFA Women’s World Cup (USA 2003, China 2007, Germany 2011, Canada 2015) and in three Olympics Football tournaments (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016) and was shortlisted for the annual FIFA World Player of the Year Award on seven occasions. Currently playing for Portland Thorns FC having previously starred for several other outfits as Vancouver Breakers and FC Gold Pride, Sinclair was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in September 2013.
5. Melanie Behringer:
Born in the western province of Lorrach in Germany, Behringer grew up to be one of the most decorated female footballers of her nation. Having started her youth career at SpVgg Utzenfeld, she joined SC Freiburg in 2003 before moving to Bayern Munich in 2008 after having made over hundred appearances for Freiburg. After a successful stint at Frankfurt from 2010 to 2014 where she won two German Cups, she returned to Bayern and since then has been crowned the German champions twice. Her lengthy list of accolades include the FIFA World Cup (2007), FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup (2004), UEFA European Championship (2009, 2013) and the Summer Olympics Games (Bronze 2008, Gold 2016). She was also the top scorer at the 2016 Summer Olympics with 5 goals.
4. Lieke Martens:
FC Barcelona midfielder Martens started her senior footballing career at Heerenveen in 2009 at the age of 16. Born in Bergen, Netherlands, she also plays as a striker and was recently named the Best FIFA Women’s Player in October 2017. She has played in several leagues in her career including the Belgian First Division and the German Bundesliga and now presently in the Spanish top tier. She made her international debut against China in a friendly in August 2011 and has since then won over 80 caps for the Dutch national team and has also scored more than 35 goals. She was named the player of the tournament in the recently concluded UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 and was also named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament in that season.
3. Carli Lloyd:
US national Lloyd plays as a midfielder for National Women’s Soccer League side Sky Blues FC and is a two-time Olympic gold medallist, FIFA Women’s World Cup champion, 2015 FIFA Women Player of the Year and the 2016 FIFA Player of the Year. She is most fondly remembered for her gold medal winning goals in the finals of the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics and since then has instilled her name in the global footballing scene. She has made over 250 appearances for the US national team and has more than 90 goals to her name. After having brief stints at New Jersey Wildcats, Chicago Red Stars, Atlanta Beat, Western New York Flash and Houstan Dash over a period of ten years, she was loaned off to Manchester City and later on returned to Sky Blue FC in 2018.
2. Abby Wambach:
Retired US national Abby Wambach is a six time recipient of the US Soccer Athlete of the Year and is the highest goal-scorer on national level and currently leads both women’s and men’s charts with a total of 184 goals. She won the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year, becoming the first American and the fourth woman to receive the honour in ten years. Wambach made her senior team debut for Washington Freedom in 2002 and also played as a player-coach for magicJack in the 2011 season. Retiring in 2014 at the Western New York Flash after a successful career, she was also named in the Time 100 list of the most influential people list in the world the following year.
Nicknamed ‘Pele with skirts’ by the great man himself, Marta was born in the western district of Dois Riachos of the Brazilian state of Alagoas. Arguably one of the most decorated female football athlete ever, Marta started her senior career at Vasco da Gama in 2000 and went through the ranks of Santa Cruz before making her presence felt at Umea IK where she scored 210 goals in just 103 matches. She also has over 100 goals for Brazil in just over 130 matches she has played in. Marta was named the FIFA World Player of the Year for five consecutive years from 2006 to 2010 and was also a key figure for the national side which won silver at both the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.