SAO PAULO (Reuters) - An emotional Marta bid farewell to another unsuccessful World Cup campaign on Sunday with a challenge to Brazil’s women: work harder and do more if you want to win.
With tears in her eyes after the 2-1 extra-time loss to hosts France, the woman considered by many to be the greatest ever to play the game said the future of Brazilian soccer was dependent on new generations pushing themselves.
“It’s about wanting more, it’s about training more, it’s about looking after yourself more, it’s about being ready to play 90 minutes and then 30 minutes more,” Marta said after Brazil went down to an 107th-minute goal in Le Havre.
“So that’s why I am asking the girls. There’s not going to be a Formiga forever, there’s not going to be a Marta forever, there’s not going to be a Cristiane. Women’s football depends on you to survive. Think about it, value it more.”
Looking straight at the camera with a mix of sadness and defiance, she said: “Cry now so you can smile at the end.”
Marta was once again one of the stars of the World Cup with her goals against Australia and Italy taking her overall total to 17, the most of any player in the history of the game.
And though the future of the six-times FIFA world player of the year is uncertain, the 33-year-old gave no sign she would quit after France, her fifth World Cup.
“It was a great experience for all of us, and now it’s time to take advantage of this exposure and make the women’s game even bigger and better,” she said.
“The World Cup has ended for Brazil, but we need to keep on going. Next year we have the Olympics. And we are very grateful about all the love that came from our country during this run.”
The Brazilian side who came to France looking for their first World Cup win surpassed expectations, winning two out of three group games after losing all nine of their warmup matches ahead of the tournament.
With the future of veterans such as Formiga, 41, now in doubt, coach Vadao said they would now look to blend new talent with experience.
“There is a renewal taking place but, going forward, there shouldn’t be too many changes,” he said. “Players like Marta and Cristiane should be playing for a few more years yet.”
Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Ian Ransom