After 23 years and 174 caps for Brazil, women’s football icon Marta has bid an emotional farewell to the World Cup stage after her side were knocked out of the tournament on Wednesday night.
Brazil were held to a 0-0 draw by Jamaica in Melbourne, ultimately finishing third in Group F behind the Reggae Girlz and France, who beat Panama 5-3 in a thrilling clash in Sydney.
Marta started the match and received a standing ovation when she was replaced in the 81st minute.
After the match, she was on the verge of tears as she said farewell to the game’s biggest stage in an interview which is already being viral on social media.
“Marta ends up here,” she said, in Portuguese.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I had, and very happy with everything that has been happening with women’s football in Brazil and the world.
“For me it’s the end of the line now, for them it’s just the beginning.
“It is hard to talk. It wasn’t in my worst nightmares the Cup I dreamed of.
“It’s just the beginning. Brazilian people asked for renewal, it is being renewed, the only old woman is me and maybe Tamires next to me.
“Most of the team is made up of talented girls with a huge road ahead of them. I end here, but they continue.”
Marta attended her first World Cup in 2003 and has since represented Brazil at the 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023 editions of the tournament with this being her sixth and last. Only former teammate Formiga (7) has played at more.
Her 17 goals is the most of any player in Women’s World Cup history. She is three goals clear of any other player in history.
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Speaking on Optus Sport, Matildas legend Heather Garriock paid a special tribute to the Brazil icon.
“I’m starting to get emotional,” Garriock said.
“Her first World Cup was 2003 and that was my first World Cup. For her to have the career that she’s had, to be able to inspire the next generation.
“For her to stand up for what she believed in. For so long. For her to be a FIFA Women’s World Player (of the Year). It’s just amazing. She really deserves everything that she’s become. The inspiration she’s brought everybody not only in Brazil but worldwide.
“Marta was who Sam Kerr is to young girls today. That makes me emotional. That is not the best swansong, maybe she may play a farewell game to be able to celebrate that.”
Post-game, Brazil coach Pia Sundhage was asked in her press conference whether Marta would continue playing at international level for Brazil.
Sundhage remained non-commital about her future, as Selecao’s focus now turns to the Paris Olympics in a year’s time.
“With her? I don’t know, I think she will continue to play because she loves the game,” she said.
“Whether she’s good enough to get called up to the national team, we will see.
“She has so much experience and that’s one of the reasons and she had some good practices as well.
“The team was not capable with her to find the final pass, which I think is one of her strengths.
“In order to do that, you need to be higher on the field, then you need to get the speed of play when it get faster, so that’s one of the reasons I think.
“Unfortunatley she’s been a little bit injured, so she did not play against England and Germany and whatever it was, and of course, that kind of player, the more she’s in the team, the better it is.”
Jamaican star Khadija Shaw spoke to Marta post-game and shed some light on the moment they shared after the full-time whistle.
“I just told her congrats on the wonderful career that she had,” Shaw said.
“For me as a young girl growing up, but not just for me but for a lot of people in the Carribbean. I just told her good luck for the future and she congratulated on us the wonderful win and performance.
“She said we inspire her because she’s said no matter what, she’s watched our journey ever since we qualified and with the lack of resources, with the lack of funding we keep on going and she said we are here for a reason and she’s definitely going to support us.”
THE DAY THAT WAS
South Africa 3-2 Italy
Argentina 0-2 Sweden
Jamaica 0-0 Brazil
Panama 3-6 France
Denmark are set to face the Matildas on Monday in the Round of 16 at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup after Group D concluded on Tuesday. KEEPUP’s Taryn Heddo & Teo Pellizzeri are joined by former Young Matilda Grace Maher to go over the day’s matches and bring some early insight into next Monday’s knockout clash.