10. Kelly Smith 9. Hanna LJungberg Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images The popularity of women’s soccer has increased exponentially since the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, and with the improved quality of play has come a steady stream of great players over the years. This is our list of the 10 greatest female soccer players ever. Most of these names you’ll recognize, whether you’ve followed the game only in America or on the world stage. Who would make your top 10? Let us know in the comments. Stuart Franklin/Getty Images Highlights: Here
English legend Kelly Smith has won loads of silverware during a sterling career with Arsenal. And since debuting for England as a 17-year-old in 1995, she has scored 45 times in 111 international matches. 9. Hanna LJungberg Ronald Martinez/Getty Images Hanna LJungberg scored 72 international goals for Sweden in a career that lasted from 1996-2008, and she was a vital member of the team that finished second at the 2003 Women’s World Cup. LJungberg??”no relation to former Arsenal player Freddie third in the FIFA World Player of the Year voting in 2003. 8.
Renate Lingor . Cristiane 6. Abby Wambach (United States) 5. Homare Sawa Cameron Spencer/Getty Images The midfield general for Germany’s 2003 and 2007 Women’s World Cup-winning teams, Renate Lingor claimed two World Cup winners’ medals, five German league titles and five German Cup crowns during a 12-year professional career. Lingor didn’t score as many goals as some on this list (35 in 147 international caps), but she influenced games like few others. 7. Cristiane Koji Watanabe/Getty Images Like the highlight video says, you can’t have Marta without Cristiane.
Cristiane, 27, inished third in the FIFA World Player of the Year voting in 2007 and 2008. She has won the Copa Libertadores with Santos, the Bundesliga with FFC Turbine-Potsdam and a runner-up medal with Brazil at the 2007 World Cup. In Just 45 international appearances, Cristiane has already scored 31 goals. 6. Abby Wambach Abby Wambach is still going strong at age 31 (she turns 32 in June), fresh off leading the United States to a runner-up finish at the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Wambach will forever be remembered for a dramatic, late equalizer against Brazil in the nockout rounds, but that’s not all she’s done.
In 178 appearances for the US (so far), Wambach has scored an amazing 134 goals. In a few more years, Wambach could be higher on this list. A five-time winner of the US Soccer Athlete of the Year award, Wambach needs a World Cup title on her resume to achieve soccer immortality. 5. Homare Sawa David Ramos/Getty Images Japan’s Homare Sawa shot to international fame as the leader of Japan’s thrilling run to the 2011 Women’s World Cup title. She finished as leading scoring and earned the
Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player, and in January 2012, she beat Marta for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Award. Sawa, 33, has scored 80 goals in 176 appearances for Japan. 4. Sun Wen Tom Hauck/Getty Images Highlights: Not available Sun Wen, a lethal Chinese striker, won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball as the top scorer and best player of the 1999 Women’s World Cup. She scored 106 goals in 152 international appearances before retiring in 2006, and in 2002 she was named Women’s Co-player of the Century by FIFA. The only hole in Sun Wen’s resume is a ack of a World Cup title.
Her China team was the losing finalist in the famous 1999 penalty shootout against the United States. 3. Birgit Prinz (Germany played from 1994-2011) Birth date: October 15, 1977 Place of birth: Frankfurt am Main, West Germany Position played: Striker 2. Marta Vieira de Silva (Brazil plays from 2002-present) Birth Date: February 19, 1986 Place of birth: Dois Riachos, Alagoas Playing Position: Forwards 1 . Mia Hamm (United States played from 1987-2004) Birth Date: March17, 1972 Place of birth: Selma, Alabama Position played: ForwardLisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images