Born on February 19, 1986, in Dois Riachos, Brazil, soccer star Marta won the first of five straight FIFA Player of the Year Awards in 2006 while playing in Sweden, and was the top scorer and MVP of the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup. Marta resumed her pro career in Sweden after a three-year stint in the United States, and serves as an advocate for growth of the women's game.
Marta Vieira da Silva was born on February 19, 1986, in Dois Riachos, Alagoas, Brazil. She developed her soccer skills via street games with other neighborhood children, though she was often shunned by the boys who resented being outplayed by girl. Discovered by Brazilian coach Helena Pacheco, Marta moved to Rio de Janeiro to train with the Vasco da Gama women's club at the age of 14.
Rise to Stardom
Marta's development accelerated with her first formal coaching, and she was named to the Brazilian teams that competed at the 2002 U-19 World Championship and 2003 FIFA Women's Cup. When the Vasco da Gama women's program was discontinued due to a lack of funds, she jumped to Santa Cruz for a spell before moving to Sweden to join Umeå IK at age 17.
Marta found a stable home for women's soccer in Sweden, where she developed into the sport's premier player. A speedy forward with a flair for artistic shot-making and passes, Marta helped Umeå IK win the 2003-04 UEFA Women's Cup and led the club to league titles from 2005-08. She topped the league in scoring three times during her five years with UIK, and won the first of a record five consecutive FIFA World Player of the Year Awards in 2006.
The gifted playmaker also starred for her home country on the international stage. Known as "Pelé con faldas" ("Pelé with skirts"), Marta led the Brazilian women to silver medals at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics. She won the Golden Ball (top player) and Golden Boot (top scorer) Awards as the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup, though that tournament ended with another runner-up showing for her side.
Marta signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Sol of the Women's Professional Soccer league in 2009, but the league's financial problems forced her to spend the second season of her contract with the FC Gold Pride and the third with the Western New York Flash. Despite the instability, Marta lived up to her end of the bargain by earning league MVP honors in 2009 and '10, leading the Gold Pride and Flash to WPS Championships, and topping the league in scoring in all three seasons.
Marta returned to Brazil to play for Santos FC during the WPS offseasons and rejoined the national team for the 2011 Women's World Cup. Although that tournament run ended with a quarterfinals loss, Marta scored four goals for a total of 14 in World Cup play, tied for most all-time with Germany's Birgit Prinz.
Return to Sweden and Ambassador
Marta returned to Sweden after signing with Tyresö FF in February 2012 and helped deliver a league championship in her first season.
As one of soccer's most famous and accomplished figures, Marta has been an outspoken advocate for the growth of the women's game. She has also served as an ambassador for the 2014 FIFA Men's World Cup in Brazil.