Women’s soccer has come a long way since the first World Cup was held in 1991. We have seen some truly incredible talents playing the beautiful game all over the world.
The debate over who is the best women’s soccer player of all time has gone on for a long time, and while there are so many players that deserve to be on this list, we take a look at some of the best to ever play the game.
1. Michelle Akers: United States, Midfielder
Akers was part of the 99ers team that will forever go down in history. There’s often an argument about who was the best player in U.S. Soccer history, but Akers is a popular choice.
The forward had such a fierce level of competitiveness that she played with every time she touched the field. She had a 15-year international career that included two FIFA Women’s World Cup wins and an Olympic Gold Medal.
She retired in 2000 with 105 goals in 153 appearances. That number could have potentially been much higher, but the star suffered many serious injuries over her career. Akers scored the first official goal in USWNT history. In 2000, she was named FIFA Player of the Century.
Off the field, she was also an important piece in the USWNT’s fight for equality.
2. Mia Hamm: United States, Forward
Mia Hamm changed the landscape of women’s soccer forever. She became the face of US Soccer, gaining fans all over the world.
The forward spent her college career at the University of North Carolina, going down as one of the best athletes of all time for the Tar Heels. During her time in Chapel Hill, she led the Tar Heels to four national championships. She scored 103 goals and tallied 72 assists in 95 games.
She became the first person to win the MAC Hermann Trophy twice when she won in 1992 and 1993. Only five other people have accomplished that feat since.
Hamm had a 17-year career with the USWNT, making her debut in 1987 at just 15 years old. During her tenure, she represented the stars and stripes at four World Cups and three Olympic games. She helped the US win two of those World Cups, two gold medals, and a silver medal.
She finished her national team career with 158 goals and 144 assists in 276 appearances.
Club wise, she was a member of the Washington Freedom from 2001-03. The Freedom was one of eight teams that composed the first women’s soccer league, the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA).
3. Marta: Brazil, Forward
Marta has this fancy way of surprising you every time she touches the ball. She’s got such terrific dribbling skills that make her so fun to watch.
What Marta lacks though is the major trophies. Brazil has come close to adding a title, winning silver at the Summer Olympics in 2004 and 2008. It also came in second at the 2007 Women’s World Cup.
Individually, Marta’s been named FIFA World Player of the Year six times, most recently in 2018. She also holds the record for most goals scored by any Brazilian player with 115. Nobody has scored more goals in World Cup games than Marta with 17 goals at five FIFA World Cups.
She’s played professionally in three different countries and is currently a member of the Orlando Pride in the NWSL.
4. Christine Sinclair: Canada, Forward
Sinclair has been the face of Canadian women’s soccer for many years. She is one of the best complete forwards to play the game for both club and country. The Canadian carries herself with a quiet confidence and has been a terrific leader for every team she’s been on.
She starred at the University of Portland, finishing her college career with 110 goals. The star forward has played in the USL W-League, WPS, and now the NWSL. She’s won a championship at every level.
Sinclair holds the all-time international goal-scoring record with 190 goals surpassing the likes of Mia Hamm and Abby Wambach. She’s appeared in 315 matches for Canada during her career which started when she was just 16.
In the NWSL, she has the most all-time goals of any active player with 58, all of which have come with the Portland Thorns. The only person with more is Sam Kerr.
5. Abby Wambach: United States, Forward
Another terrific goal scorer that has to be included on the list is Abby Wambach. She was a special talent that could score at any given moment. The forward was a mainstay of the USWNT for 14 years.
A record-breaking career came to an end when Wambach hung up her boots in 2015 after 255 appearances and 184 goals for the United States.
Throughout her career, Wambach was a dangerous attacker that defenses struggled to shut down. She became known for scoring header goals; in fact, she scored 77 with her head.
She finished her career with two Olympic gold medals (2012 and 2004) and a FIFA World Cup title in 2015.
6. Birgit Prinz: Germany, Forward
Prinz is widely regarded as the greatest German player of all time. She was a prolific goalscorer for the Germans helping to bring back two FIFA Women’s World Cup titles.
She had a long career for Germany playing from 1994-2011, earning 214 appearances and scoring 128 goals. Both of those numbers are the most for any German player.
The striker spent the majority of her professional career in the Bundesliga with FSV Frankfurt and FFC Frankfurt. She also had a short stint with the Carolina Courage in the WUSA.
During her playing career, she was named the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.
7. Homare Sawa: Japan, Midfielder
Sawa played at a high level for a long time, spending 23 years on the Japan Women’s National Team and 24 years playing professionally. She represented Japan at six World Cups and four Olympics.
The midfielder was the captain of the 2011 World Cup team that inspired a nation, defeating the United States in a penalty kick shootout to become the first Asian team to win a FIFA Women’s World Cup.
After that World Cup, she was named the 2011 FIFA World Player of the Year. She scored 83 goals in her 205 appearances.
8. Kristine Lilly: United States, Midfielder
Before there was Alex Morgan wearing No. 13, there was Kristine Lilly. There isn’t a player that has represented their national team more times than Lilly, having earned 354 caps during her 23-year career.
In those 354 appearances, she tallied 130 goals and 106 assists.
Lilly played in five World Cups, winning two of them, and three Summer Olympics, winning gold at two of those.
9. Hope Solo: United States, Goalkeeper
Off the field, Hope Solo had her struggles, but on the field, she’s perhaps one of if not the best goalkeeper to ever play the game. She had unparalleled confidence in her play every time she stepped onto the field.
After an impressive career at the University of Washington, Solo made her debut for the USWNT in 2000. She went on to make 202 appearances, with all but 12 of those starts.
Solo finished her career with 102 clean sheets, the most of any U.S. goalkeeper. Her career came to a crashing halt after the 2016 Olympics, but there’s no doubt about the impact she made at the goalkeeping position.
She started for three World Cups and three Olympic games including the World Cup title win in 2015, and the gold medal wins in 2008 and 2012.
10. Nadine Angerer: Germany, Goalkeeper
Angerer is another goalkeeper that was world-class. She had to wait her turn for quite some time behind Silke Rottenberg but when she got her chance as the starter she made the most of it.
She got her chance at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, leading Germany’s defense to the title while not conceding a single goal. Angerer appeared in 146 games for Germany before retiring after the 2015 World Cup.
Her list of accolades includes two Women’s World Cup wins, four UEFA European Championships, and three Olympic bronze medals. She was also named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2013.