LE HAVRE – Brazil star Marta issued an emotional appeal to her heirs on Sunday, telling them they are responsible for the survival of the women's game in her football-obsessed country.
The 33-year-old Marta, nicknamed 'Pele in a skirt' by the Brazil great, is widely considered to be the best female player of all time.
However, her dream of winning a World Cup for the first time died again on Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to hosts France in the last 16 of this year's global showpiece.
“We're asking for support, you have to cry at the beginning and smile at the end,” said Marta, the record World Cup scorer with 17 goals. “You have to want more, train more, to be ready to play 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes extra-time and every minute.
“This is what I ask the girls,” she added before hailing fellow veterans Formiga and Cristiane who are also likely to have played in their last World Cups.
“Formiga is not forever, neither is Marta, neither is Cristiane. Women's football depends on you to survive. Think about it, savour it.”
On Sunday, hosts France survived a scare to beat Brazil in extra time and reach the quarter-finals when captain Amandine Henry scored a dramatic winner.
Lyon midfielder Henry struck in the 107th minute after Thaisa's equaliser for Brazil, following Valerie Gauvin's opener, had forced a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.
France will face either reigning champions the United States or Spain in the last eight in Paris on Friday.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)