Brazil’s Marta offers emotional reflection on iconic legacy, ‘ready’ for 90 minutes against Jamaica

Marta shed tears in Tuesday’s news conference to preview Brazil’s final group stage clash against Jamaica. She was asked to ponder her 20-year legacy; the six-time FIFA World Player of the Year confirmed before the tournament that this World Cup will be her last.

Initially, she deflected from the question, not wanting to talk about herself.

Head coach Pia Sundhage gladly picked up the torch, saying, “Marta played in Sweden as a young player. I saw her in U-20 and in the (2004) Thailand World Cup, and I coached against her in club teams, and she means so much to Swedish football actually, so I knew that she was big. Okay, she’s a famous player. But I could not even imagine how big she is in Brazil. So I get very emotional just being around such a good player, and not only what she’s going to do tomorrow, but what she’s done for so many years, and been a fantastic role model. So thank you for that.”

Marta herself said via a translator, “When I started playing, I didn’t have an idol, a female idol.” She was unable to see herself in the game as no one showed women’s football when she was growing up, and now people stop her and the team and tell them, “My daughter wants to be just like you.”

“This wouldn’t have happened if we had stopped at the first obstacles that we faced,” Marta said, crediting a continuous persistence over the years for building the game to this point.

In terms of their preparation for Jamaica, Sundhage said she would of course not reveal their tactics, although she was very much aware of not repeating their error against France in losing Wendie Renard on a set piece. She said they were prepared for a very fast and physical game from both sides.

Marta was asked if she could play 90 minutes; she said, “I will struggle, but I will fight to play 90 minutes. I’m ready. I’m prepared.”

For more Women’s World Cup coverage, follow The Athletic‘s live blog.

(Photo: Justin Setterfield / Getty Images)

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