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Women have been playing soccer since 1890’s. Women soccer had to face a long road to grow to the point. It was actually during the First World War, when many men were gone to fight, Women Soccer Team in England became massively popular. Female soccer players had started drawing huge crowds already. However, in 1921, Football Association of England banned women’s teams from playing with FA member teams on the field. They were forced to play on the rugby field. But the authority had to lift off the ban in 1971 because of massive popularity of Women soccer.
Women began to create increasing opportunities to play professionally over the 1970s and 1980s. They were thinking of a part time or full time basis and demanding for competition. Very soon the world found a huge fan base developed for women soccer.
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The first formal UEFA Women’s Championship was held in 1982. And the first Women’s World Cup was held in 1991. Olympic also witnessed the Women soccer tournament in 1996. In 1999 world cup final, the United States Women Soccer Team (WNT) won against China in a penalty shootout before 90,000 fans in the Rose Bowl. Probably after that event, women soccer was cemented within the public consciousness. Later it continued to grow with the 21st century sports.
Top 10 Best Female Soccer Players of All Time:
Maximum growth of the Female Soccer has occurred during the last twenty to twenty-five years. Definitely many of the female soccer players have come through the public focus. Talking about women soccer players of all time, we get six different nations representing the list. Another notable thing is the diverse backgrounds of players, which demonstrate the extent to which the sport has grown on an international reputation.
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Some of these famous female soccer players of all time are still playing with famous clubs worldwide. Irrespective of nationality or current playing status, these 10 women soccer players represent the pinnacle of athletic ability in their chosen sport. Most obviously they deserve the celebration and recognition befitting of their talents for women soccer.
Let’s find, who is the best soccer player of all time?
10. Nadine Angerer – Germany
Teams: German National Team (captain), Portland Thorns FC
Awards: FIFA World Player of the Year
Nadine Marejke Angerer is a German professional footballer. She is currently playing for Portland Thorns FC in the NWSL. Notably, Angerer is the Captain of the German Women National Team. She is the most recent FIFA Women’s Player of the Year. Interesting fact is, she is the first goalkeeper to win the Honor – male or female.
Nadine Angerer started her career in 1995. As a starter, she set the record for most consecutive minutes without allowing a goal at 540. Successfully she passed away the entire 2007 World Cup without conceding a single goal. Angerer was the starter for Germany’s two UEFA Women’s Championship victories (2009 and 2013). Another success history for Nadine Angerer is, winning the bronze medal at 2008 Olympic for Germany.
The famous female soccer player spent the bulk of her professional career in Germany. Previously she had played in Sweden and Australia, and also across five different teams. Recently she is moved to the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States for 2014-2015 season. Nadine is at number 10 in the list of top 10 famous female soccer players of all time.
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9. Kristine Lilly – United States
Teams: United States women’s national soccer team (WNT),
Boston Breakers (Women’s Professional Soccer – WPS)
Awards: Hermann Award for best female collegiate player
Kristine Lilli has played more international games than any other player in the history of Women Soccer. In total, she had played 352 games for the United States from 1987 to 2010.
Lilly won her first cap for the United States in 1987 while still in high school. She also got the Hermann Award for best female collegiate player in 1991. Lilly played for UNC from 1989-1992 and consecutively won the national championship in all four years. In 2007, she became the first woman soccer player to play in five World Cups. Remarkable she won two of them (1991 and 1999) and finished third in the other three tournaments. She won gold in the 1996 and 2004 Olympics and silver in 2000.
Kristine Lilly has scored a record number 128 goals in her career, which is forth in ranking. She played professionally for two Swedish teams, Tyreso FF in 1994 and KIF Orebro DFF in 2005. Lilly spent most of her professional career with the Boston Breakers in Women’s Professional Soccer from 2001-2003 and again from 2009-2011. She became an assistant coach for the Boston Breakers in 2012 after retirement. Lilly is considered as the 9th best female soccer player of all time.
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8. Sun Wen – China
Teams: China women’s national football team, Atlanta Beat (WUSA)
Awards: FIFA Player of the Century, Golden Ball, Golden Boot
Sun Wen is one of the two recipients of the FIFA Player of the Century Award in 2002. Her greatest accomplishment came in the 1999 Women’s Soccer World Cup. Sun Wen led the China Women soccer team at second place finish and won both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball award. She was leading scorer of the tournament.
Wen also won a silver medal during the 1996 Olympics. In that time she scored over 100 goals for China from 1990 until her retirement. She achieved the glory of playing four Women Soccer World Cups and two Olympics.
Sun Wen led China to win the AFC Women’s Asian Cup six times as a female soccer player. She spent most of her career playing for the Atlanta Beat from 2001-2002 and the rest of her professional career with Shanghai Female Soccer Team. This all-time legend of Women Soccer history ranks at number 8 in the list of top 10 famous female soccer players.
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7. Abby Wambach – United States
Teams: United States women’s national soccer team,
Western New York Flash, University of Florida
Awards: US Soccer Athlete of the year, AP Female Athlete of the Year
Abby Wambach has scored more international goals (167) than any male or female soccer player. She started playing soccer for the University of Florida. The University had a three years women’s soccer program when she started. Wambach won a national championship over 15-time champions UNC in 1998. Wambach has played three World Cups in total. Her team finished third in 2003 and 2007, while placed second in 2011. But won gold medals in all the three Olympics she played.
Wambach played professionally alongside another all-time legend female soccer player Mia Hamm on the Washington Freedom from 2002-2003. Together they won title at the latter year before the league folded. And they returned to the team in 2009, when already been part of Women’s Professional Soccer. The team moved to Florida in 2011 and became known as the magic Jack. That time she also served as a player-coach for the team before it folded in 2012.
Abby Ambach currently plays for the Western New York Flash in the National Women’s Soccer League. She has already achieved US Soccer Athlete of the year six times and most recently has won the AP Female Athlete of the Year Award (as a first soccer player). Being one of the all-time famous female soccer players, she was recently selected as the FIFA World Player of the Year for 2012.
6. Birgit Prinz – Germany
Teams: FFC Frankfurt, Women German national team
Awards: FIFA World Player of the year
Birgit Prinz is well known as a three-time FIFA World Player of the year from 2003-2005. Unbelievably she is also four-time runner-up for the award from 2007-2010. No doubt that, Prinz enjoyed a sustained run as one of the very best in Women Soccer. She played more games for Germany than any non-American female soccer player for their international team in history. In total Prinz had played 214 international matches for Germany Women Football National Team.
Her winning achievement list is quite long to describe. UEFA European Championship five times in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2007. The Women’s World Cup twice in 2003 and 2007. Notably runner-up in 1995. She and her team won three Olympic bronze medals in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Oh yes, she is also currently tied for the all-time World Cup goal-scoring lead.
Previously Prinz had spent over a decade with FFC Frankfurt from 1998-2011. There she scored 259 goals in 227 matches and won German player of the year eight consecutive years from 2001-2008. Prinz led her team to six Bundesliga titles, eight German Cup victories and three UEFA Women’s Cups. Very recently in 2011, Birgit Prinz has retired from the sport. But her well accomplished legacy undoubtedly keeps him in this list of famous women soccer players of all-time.
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5. Homare Sawa – Japan
Teams: Japan women’s national football team, INAC Kobe Leonessa
NTV Beleza (previously Yomimuri Beleza)
Awards: FIFA World Player of the Year
Homare Sawa is one of the greatest midfielders of all-time. Her glorious achievements are considered as captaining Japan to a 2011 Women’s World Cup victory and silver medal in Olympics 2012. She also won the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year award for 2012.
Sawa won both the Golden Ball for MVP and Golden Boot as leading scorer in 2011 Women Soccer World Cup. Undoubtedly she is the most capped Japanese player in the nation’s Women Soccer history.
Mainly she spent most of her professional career in the Japanese Nadeshiko League. There she had won eight times with NTV Beleza (previously Yomimuri Beleza). Also another two with INAC Kobe Leonessa. Once she played for three different Women Soccer teams in United States. She is believed the 5th greatest and famous female footballer of all-time.
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4. Michelle Akers – United States
Teams: United States women’s national soccer team, Tyreso FF (Sweden)
Position: Forward / Midfielder
Awards: FIFA Medal of Merit, FIFA Female Player of the Century
Michelle Akers is the winner of the Golden Boot for most goals in the initial 1991 Women’s World Cup. She won the World Cup both that year and in 1999 with the United States Women national team. Akers started her collegiate career with Central Florida in 1985. There she won the Hermann Trophy as the best female collegiate athlete in 1988.
At the first women world cup year, Akers scored a mind-boggling 39 goals in 26 international games. Unbelievably which was at an average of a goal and a half per game. She was probably more impressive as a midfielder, rather than a forward.
This is another greatest female soccer star with unnatural lengthy winning list. She won the gold medal with the US team in Atlanta in the 1996 Olympics, received the FIFA Medal of Merit (organization’s highest possible honor), FIFA Female Player of the Century Award in 2002.
Michelle Akers spent most of her her career playing internationally. She played only three professional years with Tyreso FF in Sweden. This all-time famous female soccer player retired in 2005.
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3. Christine Sinclair – Canada
Teams: FC Gold Pride, Western New York Flash, Portland Thorns FC,
Canadian national women soccer team
Awards: Canada Soccer Player of the Year, Canadian Athlete of the Year,
best NCAA female athlete, best collegiate women’s soccer player
With 148+ international goals, Sinclair stands at number three for famous female soccer players of all-time. As she is only 30 years old, may have the opportunity to catch both Mia Hamm and Wambach before retirement.
Sinclair had appeared over 200 times for Canada and won Canada Soccer Player of the Year eleven times. She also achieved the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canadian Athlete of the Year in 2012. She attained as the leading scorer and became the MVP of the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Championship. By scoring the winning goal, she helped Canada to win the 2010 CONCACAF Women’s Gold Cup. Though she got the legendary hat-trick in a 4-3 extra-time semi-finals loss to the United States, Canada finally managed to win bronze as their first Olympic medal.
Sinclair dominated in her time at the University of Portland by winning the Hermann Trophy for best collegiate women’s soccer player in 2004-05. She even won the Honda-Broderick Cup in 2005 as the best NCAA female athlete. She is arguably the third female soccer player to do so. She has also won championships with FC Gold Pride and the Western New York Flash of Women’s Professional Soccer. We can consider this legendary athlete as 3rd of our list of top 10 famous female soccer players of all time.
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2. Marta – Brazil
Teams: Umea IK, Tyreso FF, Los Angeles Sol, FC Gold Pride,
Western New York Flash, FC Rosengård,
Brazil Women’s National Team
Awards: FIFA World Player of the Year (5 times), Golden Boot, Golden Ball
Marta has won the FIFA World Player of the Year award more times (five consecutive times from 2006-2010) than any other female soccer player in history. She helped Brazil finish runner-up in the 2007 Women’s World Cup. She also won both the golden boot and golden ball that tournament. Currently she is the tied first with 14 career Women’s World Cup goals.
Marta has scored at close to a goal per game pace in her international career with Brazil. And also scored more than one goal in her professional club career with Umea IK in Sweden from 2004-2008. She has been playing for several other clubs in Brazil and United States. Some of them are Tyreso FF, Los Angeles Sol, FC Gold Pride and Western New York Flash (2009-2011).
Marta won the league’s scoring title in all three seasons and led each team to the regular season championship. Undoubtedly Marta can be considered as the second best female soccer player of all time.
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1. Mia Hamm – United States
Teams: Washington Freedom (founding member),
United States women’s national soccer team
Awards: FIFA Women’s Player of the Year
Though retired in 2004, Mia Hamm still remains the face of the sport to many casual fans. She stands third all-time with 275 international caps for the United States and second all-time with 158 international goals. Hamm won the FIFA Women’s Player of the Year in 2001 and 2002 as the first two years of its existence. She also finished second in both 2003 and 2004 in voting before her retirement. She is one of just two female players to be named to the FIFA 100, commemorating the 125 greatest living soccer players. They were to celebrate FIFA’s 100th anniversary in 2004.
Mia Hamm won the Women’s World Cup twice in 1991 and 1999. Also won the Olympic gold medal twice in 1996 and 2004. She won the NCAA National Championship four times in five years from 1989-1993.
As there were no professional women’s soccer league in the US until 2001. She only played three seasons with the Washington Freedom from 2001-2003. In fact Hamm scored the league’s first ever goal and led Washington to win the league championship in 2003.
One of the most successful and decorated women soccer players, an ambassador and also an icon for the women’s game world. Mia Hamm is an obvious inclusion for any discussion for the greatest female soccer players of all time. Most obviously she occupies the number one spot in this list of top 10 famous female soccer players of all time..
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