Brazilian superstar Marta is beyond a legend. She's been named the best player on the planet by FIFA six times during her storied career and the memories she has created on the field are endless. But it's in defeat and off the field where she may have delivered her greatest, most purposeful moment yet. Afterin a hard-fought game in extra time against the hosts France on Sunday, Marta, who is the record holder for most goals (men or women) scored in the history of the World Cup, delivered a goosebumps-inducing interview that will inspire the next generation of Brazilian players and hopefully more support for the women's game in Brazil and the rest of the world.
The 33-year-old Marta is part of a veteran-heavy Brazil squad that featured 34-year-old Cristiane and 41-year-old Formiga, who is playing in her record seventh -- SEVENTH -- Women's World Cup. All three are part of the golden generation of Brazilian women's soccer that came so close to winning big tournaments in the past, finishing second in the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games and falling short at home in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Brazil's best finish in the Women's World Cup came in 2007 when it lost in the final to Germany after dispatching the United State 4-0 in the semifinal.
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. This is what I ask of 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. So think about that. Value it more.
Cry in the beginning so you can smile in the end.
What a message of sacrifice and fight, and if that didn't give you chills, something is wrong. That's a speech that will inspire any young aspiring player -- regardless of gender, and regardless if they live in Brazil -- for years to come. That's motivation that can really change the lives of some players and shift them toward the sport. What that could mean for girls in Brazil is hard to fathom, but it is her iconic moment and makes me want to run threw a wall. Who knows if that inspires someone to become the next big thing to come out of their country.
Hopefully it also inspires more support for the women's game from federations and clubs -- especially in Brazil and in South America, where the women's game is way behind the men's game when it comes to funding, evident by no South American nation ever winning the Women's World Cup. It's progressing along slowly, but there is still a long way to go. While this message will serve as the motivation needed for the next Marta, the next Formiga, it hopefully also pinches a nerve with the people in power that can hopefully find a way to do more for the game.
Marta's message may have been directed at Brazil, but it is one that the entire world has heard.