Marta Scores An International Goal For Brazil In A 20th Different Year

The six-time world player of the year Marta became only the third person in history to score a senior international goal in 20 different calendar years last night.

The Brazilian great scored twice in the second half of a 4-0 win over Jamaica in Recife, the second a fulminating long-range shot after a typical slalom from the woman who many consider to be the greatest female player of all time. After first scoring an international goal for the Selecão Feminina against Peru in April 2003, Marta has scored at least once in 20 of the 22 calendar years since then.

In 2019, Canadian Christine Sinclair became the first soccer player in history to score in 20 different years. She stretched that record to 23 consecutive years before her retirement, failing to score only in her final year as an international player in 2023.

The all-time men’s international record goalscorer, Cristiano Ronaldo became the second player to score in 20 different years from 2004 to 2023 but is yet to score for Portugal in 2024. Marta has thus become the third, but the first not to score in sequential years, having failed to score an international goal in 2005 and 2006.

The two goals also took Marta to a total of 118 goals in 176 games for Brazil taking her clear of Scotland’s Julie Fleeting and into ninth place on the women’s all-time list of international goalscorers headed by Sinclair with a staggering 190 goals in 328 appearances for Canada.

For Marta, born in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Alagoas, the match in Recife, in the neighboring state of Pernambuco, was a sort of home-coming. After the match she said “the feeling is one of great joy and gratitude for living such a fantastic moment. I am really very happy to have had this opportunity to play here in Recife, to see my family present here and the fans, as well as being honored with two great goals.”

Marta is just one month away from playing in her sixth Olympics in Paris having first appeared at the Games back in 2004. Already the first player to score in five different World Cup finals tournaments – a record since equalled by Sinclair and Cristiano Ronaldo – Marta could become the first-ever to score in six Olympic competitions if she finds the net in Paris.

Tantalisingly, Marta also suggested that her international career might stretch beyond that. Last year, after Brazil were surprisingly eliminated in the group stage of the Women’s World Cup by Jamaica, Marta said it would be the last time we would see her on that stage.

In April, she confirmed that the Olympics would be her last international competition in a Brazilian shirt. Speaking to CNN, she said “if I go to the Olympics, I will enjoy every moment, because, regardless of whether I go to the Olympics or not, this is my last year with the national team. There will be no more Marta from 2025 in the national team as an athlete.”

However, since then her nation have been awarded the right to stage the next Women’s World Cup finals in 2027. By then, Marta will be 41, but at a press conference ahead of yesterday’s game, it seems the prospect of appearing in a World Cup on home soil has energised her thoughts.

“A lot can happen and I prefer to take it one day at a time. I made my statement about the National Team at the beginning of this year, but there is a World Cup coming up. If I’m not on the field, I’ll be here in Brazil, playing with them anyway. Because I always dreamed of playing in a World Cup here in Brazil.”

If she does appear at the 2027 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she will equal her erstwhile team-mate Formiga who represented Brazil at six tournaments between 1995 and 2019, the last of them also at the age of 41. Having failed to score at the 2023 tournament, Marta will also give herself the opportunity to once more take the World Cup record by finding the net at a sixth different tournament.

“Whether I’m on the field or not, who knows, maybe I’ll step onto the pitch before the game. But it’s something I want to live intensely. When the announcement came out, I couldn’t think of anything other than being here in Brazil, together with the girls, together with all of you, living this moment that will be historic.”

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