Marta Vieira da Silva, known as the “female Pelé,” is much more than a player by comparison. Da Silva is a pioneer in her own right, rewriting the history books of women’s soccer.

Marta Vieira da Silva inspires a generation of athletes today with her exceptional talent, resilience, and activism for gender equality.

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As the FIFA Women’s World Cup unfolds, the story of Marta Vieira da Silva takes center stage.

On the shoulders of her ancestors

Born on 19 February 1986 in the modest town of Dois Riachos, Alagoas, Brazil, Marta’s path to greatness was paved with determination and unwavering dedication.

Raised in a single-mother household — her father abandoned the family when she was one year old — the future queen of Brazilian soccer suffered poverty, hunger, and even bullying from her brothers, who teased the girl who loved to play “futebol” more than anything else in the world.

However, neither her mother nor grandmother allowed her to give up her dream.

“There were many obstacles. My mother raised all her children by herself and couldn’t afford football boots for me,” Da Silva told Goal magazine. “But I’ve never lost the drive to win, to pursue my dreams.”

The athlete left home at 14 and never looked back except to help her family and other girls who wanted to follow her path.

Marta Vieira da Silva is more than just the female Pelé

Da Silva’s extraordinary rise to fame is not defined solely by her numerous titles and awards. Rather, it is her unwavering resilience and grit in championing gender equality that sets her apart.

The nickname “Female Pele” may be a testament to her greatness, but it fails to capture the magnitude of her impact on sport and society. It also minimizes her legacy.

Marta Vieira da Silva surpassed the record of the king of Brazilian soccer in 2015 when she scored 98 goals for the Brazilian national team. Pelé managed 95.

A shower of praise

Beyond her exceptional skills on the field, Marta’s achievements speak volumes. She is the only woman whose footprints have been immortalized on the famous Maracana stadium grounds, joining the pantheon of male soccer legends.

This honor, bestowed upon her after she received her sixth World Player of the Year award, is a testament to her indelible mark on the sport.

The United Nations recognized her role in 2018, naming her a Goodwill Ambassador for Women and Girls in Sports.

Da Silva’s advocacy extends far beyond the field of play, however. She encourages women and girls to pursue their dreams, challenge social norms, and break down barriers in all walks of life.

“This recognition is a tremendous honor. It allows me to use my platform to empower women and girls, showing them that they can achieve anything they set their minds to, both in sports and life,” she said at the time.

Da Silva’s words resonate with a generation of young athletes, instilling in them the tenacity and resilience characteristic of the player.

Marta Vieira da Silva’s last world cup

Marta’s legacy surpasses any comparison with her male counterparts. She has shattered records, rewritten history, and become a symbol of resilience and determination.

As the 2023 Women’s World Cup captivates audiences worldwide, Da Silva’s presence lights up the tournament.

Although she has said this is her last “Mundial,” this extraordinary Latina athlete is a beacon of hope and an emblem of what is possible when talent, dedication, and unwavering faith are intertwined. 

With every goal scored, every pass made, and every obstacle overcome, Da Silva continues to make her mark.

Marta Vieira da Silva is not simply the “female Pelé”; she is Marta, a force to be reckoned with, an advocate for gender equality, and a true inspiration to athletes everywhere.