Last Updated on July 25, 2021
Football is for both Men and Women. Just as we have great players amongst the male footballers, we also have with the Women. For every Messi, Ronaldo, and Ronaldinho, there is Wambach, Martha, and Rapinoe. The performances of some female footballers make them ideal candidates for the best female soccer players of all time.
Without much ado, let’s look at the 10 best female football players of all time. Our list is in descending order. That is, from the 10th greatest female soccer player in history to the 1st.
List of Ten Best Female Soccer Players of All Time
10. Miraildes Formiga (Brazil)
The longevity of Brazilian female footballers is enough to earn a place in our top 10 greatest female football players of all time. She made her World Cup debut in 1995 as a 17-year-old when Brazil beat Norway in the third-place play-off to earn bronze. In sports, where most people look to retirement as they approach their mid and late 30’s, Formiga kept going.
She is the only female footballer who participated in 6 consecutive Olympic games (1996 to 2016). Tokyo 2021 will be her 7th: the same number of World Cups She participated in.
Miraildes is the oldest female footballer to have scored a goal in the Fifa World Cup (37) and the oldest to have participated in one (41). Her seven Fifa World Cup tournament appearances are unmatched by any in either the male or female sports.
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9. Nadine Angerer (Germany)
Angerer is the first and only goalkeeper (male or female) that won the Fifa World Player of the Year award. The only other goalkeeper with similar recognition is Lev Yashin, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1963.
At the 2007 Fifa Women’s World Cup, Angerer made a record never seen in football. Throughout the entire tournament, she did not concede a single goal. At the final match against Brazil, she saved a penalty from Mata: arguably the greatest female soccer player of all time.
Nadine Angerer’s Fifa award in 2014 came after the goalkeeper’s stellar performances at the 2013 Fifa World cup and Uefa Women’s Championship. In the latter, she saved two penalty kicks in the final against Norway.
She won several other awards before her retirement, including the Uefa Women’s best player ( 2013) and the Fifa Women’s World Cup best goalkeeper (2007). She was appointed as the goalkeeping coach at Portland Thorns.
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8. Sun Wen (China)
Sun is not just China’s greatest ever female soccer player; she is one of the greatest female soccer players in history. Wen represented her country in the four Fifa Women’s World Cup and two Olympic games. She was part of the Chinese female national team that hosted the first official Fifa Women World Cup in 1991. She emerged as the best player and the joint top scorer of the 1999 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Although her team lost in the final, her performances and goals (7) were enough to earn her the aforementioned awards. In 2002, Sun Wen was crowned the Fifa Women’s Player of the century via votes cast on Fifa’s website. She scored 106 goals in 163 appearances before her retirement in 2006.
7. Michelle Akers (U.S.A)
Michelle Akers was part of the U.S.A female football team that dominated the 90’s. Specifically, she scored ten goals in the 1991 Fifa Women’s World Cup, two of which were in the final against Norway. Her goals in the final helped the U.S.A become the first recipient of the Fifa Women’s World Cup trophy. Her ten goals in the tournament also earned her the top scorer award.
In the years following her heroics at the 1991 World Cup, she took up a new role in the team. As a midfielder, she helped the U.S.A to a bronze medal in the 1995 Fifa World Cup and the first-ever female Olympic Gold in 1996. In her last major tournament as a professional footballer, she won the 1999 Fifa Women’s World Cup.
Michelle Akers won some outstanding awards and gained recognition for her performances. She was jointly voted as Fifa Women’s Player of the century alongside Sun Wen. Also, Fifa awarded her the Order of Merit: Fifa’s highest award.
Akers’s place as one of the best female soccer players of all time was affirmed by Pele. She is one of just two female footballers who made Pele’s list of 125 greatest footballers (male or female).
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6. Birgit Prinz (Germany)
Birgit Prinz’s place as one of the 10 greatest female soccer players in history is not disputable. She accrued both individual and collective trophies/awards throughout her professional career. Prinz won three Fifa Women’s World Player of the Year awards ( 2003, 2004, and 2005) and was runners-up five times ( 2002, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010).
She also won the German female footballer of the year on 8 different occasions. Prinz is the second all-time leading goalscorer in Fifa Women’s World Cup history as of 2021.
Furthermore, she won 19 domestic trophies (9 German league titles and 10 German Cups). She won 5 consecutive Uefa European Championship between 1995 to 2009. In 2003, she won her first Fifa World Cup and the second in 2007.
In the former, she won the best player and golden boot awards.
Following her retirement in 2011, Prinz took up the role of a sport psychologist for Hoffenheim’s men and women teams.
5. Christine Sinclair (Canada)
Canada boasts of one of the greatest female soccer players of all time. The country may not dominate Fifa World Cup tournaments like the U.S.A or Germany, but they have the greatest goalscorer. Christine Sinclair made history in 2020 when she scored her 185th career goal.
That goal helped her to the top spot on the list of players with the most international goals (male or female). She is Canada’s shining light in football and represents the country proudly. In 2017, she was given the second-highest award any civilian could get ( Officer of the order of Canada).
She said of the award: “I can dream of winning a World Cup or an Olympic gold medal, and that’s my job, but to have your country recognize you – I don’t even know what to say.” Sinclair is the second player to score in five Fifa World Cups.
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4. Megan Rapinoe (U.S.A)
Some footballers make their presence felt on the pitch and off it. Rapinoe is vocal against the discrimination in allowances between the U.S.A male and female national teams. She, alongside 27 others, filed a lawsuit against the U.S.A Soccer Federation to correct what they think is an abnormality.
Rapinoe’s presence off the pitch does not hinder her performances on it. At the height of her activism in 2019, she played a pivotal role in her country’s Fifa Female World Cup triumph. In that tournament, she won the golden boot, golden ball, and the man of the match in the final.
The same year, she was named The Best Fifa Women’s Player. She also bagged the 2019 Ballon d’Or Feminine award. Rapinoe is a two-time Fifa Women’s World Cup winner (2015, 2019) and an Olympic gold medalist (2012).
3. Abby Wambach (U.S.A)
Wambach used to be the player with the most international goals(184) until Sinclair took the top spot in 2020. She is known to be a great header of the ball—her famous header in the 122nd minute of her team’s quarter-final match against Brazil. The goal, which Rapinoe assisted, was awarded ESPN’s 2011 ESPY Award for Best Play of the Year.
She is a two-time Olympic Gold medalist (2004, 2012) and Fifa Women’s World Cup winner (2015). In 2011, she won the bronze ball and was adjudged as the second-best player of the Fifa Women’s World Cup. Following her performance in that tournament, she was named Athlete of the year by Associated Press and had the entrance of Sahlen’s stadium named “Wambach Way.”
Wambach was named as the best female football player of the year at the Fifa gallery in 2012. Wambach’s fame goes beyond football; she is recognized off the pitch too. In 2015, she made it to the Time list of 100 most influential people in the world. Definitely, she deserves her place as one of the 10 best female soccer players of all time.
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2. Mia Hamm (U.S.A)
Hamm, alongside Michelle Akers, was named in Pele’s 125 greatest footballers ever. When female football was yet to gain worldwide recognition, Hamm stood as the face of the sport. For some, she would easily top the list of the 10 greatest female soccer players in history.
She was part of the U.S.A female soccer team that won the 1991 and 1999 Fifa World Cups. She also has two Olympic gold medals to her name too(1996 and 2004). At some point, she held the record as the player (male or female) who scored and assisted the most international goals.
Although Wambach and Sinclair have surpassed her international goal record, she retains the assists record (144). She was named in the top 3 of Fifa Female Footballer of the Century in the year 2000. Hamm is the first female soccer player to be inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame. Furthermore, she won the first two Fifa Women’s World Player of the Year awards in 2001 and 2002.
1. Marta (Brazil)
The “Ronaldinho” of female football. Mata’s ability to go past players as if they do not exist is second to none. She is skilful and efficient in front of a goal. She is the first footballer (male or female) to score in five different Fifa World Cups.
Marta tops Pele and any other Brazilian footballer (male or female) as the Brazilian with the most goals in International football (109).
Also, she holds the record as the soccer player(male or female) with the most goals in FIFA World Cup history(17).
In 2007, she led the Brazilian female national team to the Fifa Women’s World Cup final. Although they lost to Germany, she won the Golden boot and Golden ball awards. Mata won six Fifa World Player of the Year award: five was won consecutively (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010).
If one player deserves to take the top spot on the top 10 greatest female soccer players in history, It is Marta.
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Footballers from the U.S.A dominate our list of the 10 greatest female soccer players in history. They make up 40% (4/10) of the list. This is largely due to the country’s performances at various Fifa Women’s World Cups.
However, we must note that the American female league is not the benchmark for women’s football. The Brazilian female league is not either. The women’s league in France is far better in infrastructure and player’s welfare (wages and salaries). Unfortunately, this has not been reflected in the performances of the French national team.
Nonetheless, in due course, it will not come as a surprise if the French players, especially those plying their trade at home, usurp their American counterparts.