Marta dedicates World Cup record to ‘anyone fighting for equality’
Marta secured her place among the legends of football on Tuesday after the Brazilian become the World Cup’s all-time leading scorer in the 1-0 win against Italy in Valenciennes.
“This record doesn’t belong to me, it belongs to all of us,” said the 33-year-old after crashing home a penalty with 16 minutes left to score her 17th World Cup goal.
“I share it with anyone fighting for more equality.”
Brazil set up a knockout stage clash with either host France or Germany after the 74th-minute strike moved Marta one goal ahead of the German Miroslav Klose in the record books.
“Do you think he’ll change his mind about retiring and play at the next World Cup?” Marta joked.
Brazil finished third on goal difference in Group C behind Italy and Australia — who beat Jamaica 4-1 — after all three ended level on six points.
Marta wasn’t fazed by the possibility of facing France, who topped Group A with a perfect nine points after scraping past Nigeria on Monday.
“To play against the host nation would be a privilege. The stadium would be full of fans singing,” she said.
“I love playing in front of a big crowd whether it’s supporting me or is against me. I just want there to be fans who are watching us.”
Marta is widely considered the greatest player in the history of the women’s game and was hailed by her teammates as an inspiration for others wanting to take up the male-dominated sport.
“She is like an icon for us and I think every year she is breaking records and that’s no just important for us but for all of women’s soccer. I’m so happy she is Brazilian,” said centre-back Monica.
Fellow defender Tamires added: “We have a lot of young players coming up and I hope they look to her and how she plays, what makes her so special and so incredible and follow her.”
The defeat wasn’t enough to dislodge Italy from top spot and a match with one of the four best third-placed finishers.
“It’s a shame about the result because we didn’t want to lose but we played well enough to have drawn it,” said Juventus attacker Babara Bonansea, who twice went close for Italy before Marta claimed her record goal.
“We knew that today was going to be difficult but we were good. Let’s see who our next match is with.”
Marta’s winner overshadowed another historic feat for Sam Kerr, who became the first Australian to score a World Cup hat-trick as she crashed four past eliminated Jamaica in Grenoble.
“It’s one to tell my kids about,” Kerr said. “Any time you break a record, especially for your country, it is an amazing feeling.”
The Matildas will play Norway in Nice in the last 16 on Saturday.
England need a point against Japan on Wednesday to ensure they top Group D and avoid a potential last-16 clash with European champions the Netherlands.
Topping the group would, however, also put them on the same side of the draw as both France and potentially the World Cup holders USA.
Coach Phil Neville said Tuesday admitted there were “pitfalls in finishing first and second” as he reported that his squad was fully fit with striker Toni Duggan available after missing the wins over Scotland and Argentina.