Women’s football has gained significant popularity over the past couple of years. Most notably the coverage and attendances of games at the 2012 London Olympics. Since then, both the 2015 FIFA World Cup in Canada and the 2016 Olympics in Rio have helped boost the sport’s reputation.
Carli Lloyd has been playing the game since she was at High School all the way back in 1999. Since then the American midfielder has gone on to win two Olympic Gold medals and the 2015 Women’s World Cup in which she beat the football odds to score a hat-trick in the final.
The 34-year-old plies her trade in the USA with National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) side Houston Dash. She has won the Best FIFA Women’s Player award for the past two seasons to justify her position as top of our list.
What feels like the much-travelled Brazilian forward has been around forever, Marta has accomplished most things in the game and is still only 30 years old. She is a five-time winner of the Best FIFA Women’s Player award and back in 2006 she was the youngster to ever receive the award.
Marta smashed in an incredible 210 goals in only 103 games during her five seasons with Umeå IK, winning the Damallsvenskan on four occasions and the 2004 UEFA Women’s Cup. She has 105 goals in 101 caps for the Brazil national team but has yet to win the Women’s World Cup. She currently shows off her excellent skills and lightning quick pace in the Swedish top flight with FC Rosengård.
American international Megan Rapinoe is a crafty winger who has been with Seattle Reign in the NWSL since 2013. The 31-year-old has spent most of her career in the United States but has had brief spells in Sydney and Lyon too.
Rapnie was part of the USA squad that won the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and Gold at the 2012 London Olympics,
University of Portland graduate Christine Sinclair has spent her career smashing in goal after goal in North American. Born in Canada, the attacking midfielder has been playing for her country since the year 2000. Since then the current Portland Thorns star has gone on to score 165 goals in 250 international appearances.
Sinclair is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist and has won the Canada Soccer Player of the Year award in 12 of the past 13 years!
A recently-acquired teammate of Christine Sinclair is French holding midfielder Amandine Henry. The 27-year-old old had spent her career in her homeland prior to moving to the Portland Thorns in 2016.
During an eight-year spell with Lyon she won the Division 1 Féminine on five occasions, the Coupe de France Féminine twice and both the 2011 and 2012 UEFA Women’s Champions Leagues. Henry won the Silver Ball Award as the tournament’s second best player at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and was also name among the best players in Europe in 2015, finishing runner-up to Célia Šašić for the UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe Award.
The youngest player on our list is Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg, who at 21 years old has already amassed 35 goals in 55 appearances for her country, and 59 goals in 43 French Division 1 Féminine games for Lyon over the past two seasons.
Hegerberg is at the top of her game having won the French league in both of her seasons with Lyon as well as last season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League. It’s perhaps only a matter of time before she is signed to a NWSL side…
24-year-old German international Dzsenifer Marozsán recently joined the reigning Champions League winners Lyon, having spent her career to that point in her homeland, with 1. FC Saarbrücken and FFC Frankfurt.
The attacking midfielder is both a playmaker and goalscorer and holds Bundesliga records for being both the youngest to ever appear in the German top flight (14 years, 7 months) and score (15 years, 4 months). She was only 18 when she made her debut for the national team and now has 69 caps, 30 goals for Germany and won Gold at the 2016 Olympics.
Veteran Becky Sauerbrunn remains a stern defender in the NWSL with FC Kansas City, winning the Championship in both 2014 and 2015. The 31-year-old has won 119 caps for her country but is still yet to score.
Sauerbrunn was part of the USA squad that won Gold at the 2012 London Olympics and the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.
German international Alexandra Popp has won it all domestically. Starting her Bundesliga career with FCR 2001 Duisburg in 2008 before later joining VfL Wolfsburg, Popp has won the Women’s Champions League on three occasions, the Bundesliga twice and the German Cup five times.
Popp was also part of the German national team that won Gold at the 2016 Olympics and still only 25 years old, there’s plenty of time for her to pick up more trophies during her career.
Orlando Pride striker Alex Morgan was the youngest player selected by USA at the 2011 Women’s World Cup in which they reached the final. Four years later she was part of the side that won the tournament in Canada. The 27-year-old has scored 73 goals in 120 caps for her country.
At club level, Morgan had much success with the Portland Thorns before being traded to expansion club Orlando Pride. Earlier this year she was loaned out to Lyon.