Before discussing the best female soccer players, let take a little glance on history of women’s soccer. Since the 1890s, women have been playing soccer in its modern form, yet it has faced a long road to grow to the point it is at today. The popularity of sport (women’s soccer) has increased exponentially since the inaugural 1991 Women’s World Cup, and with the improved quality of play has come a steady stream of great players over the years.
Here, below is our list of the 10 greatest, best female soccer players ever. Most of these names you’ll recognize, whether you’ve followed the game only in your country or on the world stage. Some of these talented women are still currently playing, and have the opportunity to further rise up this list.
Who would make your top 10 list of “Best Female Soccer Players” of all time? Let us know in the comments.
Top 10 Best Female Soccer Players of All Time:
10. Nadine Angerer
German professional football goalkeeper, Nadine Angerer is the first goalkeeper, male or female, to win the ‘FIFA Women’s Player of the Year’ award on 13 January 2014. As the starting goalkeeper, she did not concede a single goal in the entire 2007 World Cup. Also, she set the record for most consecutive minutes without allowing a goal in World Cup play to 540 minutes. In the 2013 European Championship final, she saved two penalties and was named player of the match following Germany’s 1–0 win against Norway. Currently, she is the captain of the German national team.
9. Kristine Lilly
Kristine Lilly is a retired American soccer player who has played more international games than any other player in the history of soccer (352 games for the United States from 1987-2010). Lilly is the first woman to play in 5 World Cups, winning it in 1991 and 1999 and finishing 3rd in the other three tournaments. With 130 goals, she sits fourth all time in goals amongst female players. She also won gold in the 1996 and 2004 Olympics and silver in 2000.
8. Sun Wen
The retired Chinese professional soccer player, Sun Wen, who previously captained the China women’s national football team and the Atlanta Beat. Her greatest accomplishment came in the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, when she led China to a second place finish, and won both the Golden Ball (top player) and Golden Boot (top scorer) for her performance. She won the ‘FIFA Female Player of the Century’ Award in 2002 along with Michelle Akers. She is considered one of the all-time best female soccer players.
7. Abby Wambach
One of the all-time best female soccer players of America. With 167, Wambach has scored more international goals than any other male or female soccer player in the history of the sport. She has won Olympic gold medal three time, and six-time ‘U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year’ awards. Wambach has competed in three FIFA World Cup tournaments, finishing third in 2003 and 2007 and second in 2011, and three Olympics tournaments. Her greatest accomplishment came in the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where she awarded the tournament’s Bronze Boot and Silver Ball. For her great performance in 2012 World Cup, she was awarded ‘ FIFA World Player of the Year’ becoming the first American woman to win the award in ten years.
6. Birgit Prinz
Birgit Prinz is one of the all-time best female soccer players of Germany. She was winner of the ‘FIFA World Player of the Year’ award three time from 2003 to 2005, and four time runner up for the award from 2007-2010. She remains one of the most prolific strikers and the FIFA Women’s World Cup all-time leading scorer with 14 goals. Though she retired in 2011, her legacy as one of the best female soccer players of all time is well established and gives her a clear place on this list.
5. Homare Sawa
Homare Sawa is a Japanese soccer player. After captaining Japan to a 2011 Women’s World Cup victory, Gold medal and a silver medal in the 2012 Olympics, Sawa proved herself to be one of the best female soccer players of all-time. She was named the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year. Sawa is the most capped Japanese player in the nation’s history, and also won both the Golden Ball for MVP and Golden Boot as leading scorer in the 2011 World Cup.
4. Michelle Akers
The winner of the Golden Boot for most goals in the initial 1991 Women’s World Cup, Michelle Akers is a former leading American soccer player, who starred in the historic 1991 and 1999 Women’s World Cup victory by the United States. She is a member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame and was named FIFA Female Player of the Century. During her 1991 World Cup and Golden Boot-winning year, Akers scored a mind-boggling 39 goals in 26 international games that year, placing her at an average of a goal and a half per game, which is even more impressive as a midfielder, rather than a forward. She also won the gold medal with the US team in Atlanta in the 1996 Olympics.
3. Christine Sinclair
Christine Sinclair is captain of the Canadian national team. Sinclair plays for Portland Thorns FC. She is an Olympic bronze medallist and one of the most prolific scorers and best female soccer players of all-time. Sinclair sits third, behind Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm, all-time with 148 international goals, and may have the opportunity before retiring to finish with more goals than any other female football player in history.
During her 14 years national team career, she participate in three FIFA Women’s World Cups (2003, 2007, 2011) and two Olympic Football Tournaments (2008, 2012). She has won eleven time ‘Canada Soccer Player of the Year’ award, and was honoured by FIFA as a nominee ‘World Player of the Year’ six times.
One of the all-time best female soccer players of Brazil, Marta has won the ‘FIFA World Player of the Year’ award five consecutive times between 2006 and 2010. She recieved this honour more times than any other female soccer player. She won both the ‘Golden Ball’ and the ‘Golden Boot’ awards as the best player and top scorer respectively. Alongside Birgit Prinz, she tops the all–time Women’s World Cup goalscorer list. Also, she was one of the six Ambassadors of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil.
1. Mia Hamm
Though she has been retired, but topes the list of 10 best female soccer players of all time. With 158 international goals, Hamm sits second all-time in the history of soccer. Also, with 275, she is the third most capped female player in soccer history. She also holds the national team record for most career assists with 144. She was named the women’s ‘FIFA World Player of the Year’ in 2001 and 2002, the first two years of its existence. In 2004, she was also one of just two female players to be named to the FIFA 100, commemorating the 125 greatest living soccer players to celebrate FIFA’s 100th anniversary. Hamm won the Women’s World Cup twice, in 1991 and 1999 and the Olympic gold medal twice in 1996 and 2004, as well as a silver medal in 2000. She had also won the NCAA National Championship four times in five years from 1989-1993.