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5 exceptional women's football players who deserve more recognition

Women's football is extremely competitive and lucrative. It has the potential to be on the same level as men's football in a few years.
Women's football is extremely competitive and lucrative. It has the potential to be on the same level as men's football in a few years.

When it comes to most sports, the men's version is more well known and has a better following. The same is the case with football.

Women's football has struggled to gain recognition. It got a late start due to the stigma associated with it in the olden days, and in some places, even to this day. Playing a rough contact sport was considered un-womanlike. However, much has changed over the last few decades of the 20th century.

The rapid growth of women's football

Everton Women v Birmingham City Women - Barclays FA Women's Super League
Everton Women v Birmingham City Women - Barclays FA Women's Super League

Famous football clubs have now created their own women's football teams, and football associations worldwide are creating domestic and international competitions. The most notable international tournament was the FIFA Women's World Cup of 1991, which was hosted in China.

💪 Women’s football has come back stronger than ever in Venezuela🇻🇪 The FIFA COVID-19 Relief Plan supported the organisation of the Venezuelan Women’s Transition Tournament 2021 as 4 clubs embarked on a 10-day adventure they will never forget👉 fifa.com/news/venezuela… https://t.co/MQNXC7jI6H

After the success of the first World Cup, women's football started gaining considerable momentum and traction. It is a very lucrative sport, with cash-rich brands and sponsorships. Over the world, women's game has produced several legendary players. We take a look at five of the most exceptional players in this article:

#5 Sun Wen - China

Sun Wen had an impressive career which established her as one of the greatest footballer of all time
Sun Wen had an impressive career which established her as one of the greatest footballer of all time

Sun Wen, a legend in women's football, won seven regional championships with Shanghai SVA in China before joining Atlanta Beat in the United States in 2000. Her excellent shooting, vision, and an eye for the goal have helped her become one of the world's greatest international strikers.

A dynamic player, she could play as both an attacker and midfielder. Sun Wen was awarded both the Golden Boot (highest scorer) and the Golden Ball (best player) at the 1999 Women's World Cup. The tournament ended in heartbreak as China was narrowly defeated in the final by the United States on penalties.

Today we’ve been with former China international and FIFA Legend Sun Wen in Shanghai as part of the World Cup Trophy Tour. We are currently on our ninth stop and spent some time with some current and former internationals, as well as youngsters from a local academy. #DareToShine https://t.co/DH6hwGNRMt

Sun Wen was selected FIFA World Player of the Century in 2000, partnering Michelle Akers of the United States. She retired after China's shock World Cup defeat at the hands of Canada in 2003.

#4 Carolina Morace - Italy

Carolina Morace is now the head coach of Lazio's women's football team
Carolina Morace is now the head coach of Lazio's women's football team

Carolina Morace, Italy's best women's football player, made her international and Women's Serie A debuts when she was just 14 years old. She went on to win 12 league titles and score almost 500 goals for eight different clubs.

Morace was a deadly goalscorer. She finished second twice in the European Championships with Italy. After retiring, Morace took up coaching and became quite successful at it. She became the first female coach of an Italian men's professional team — Viterbese in Serie C — after retiring in 1999. Later, she became the head coach of the Italian women's national team.

She was the top-scorer in Serie A for a staggering 11 consecutive years, from 1987 to 1998. Morace has, without a doubt, established herself as one of the most outstanding women's football players of all time.

#3 Linda Medalen - Norway

Linda Medalen started out as a striker but moved towards defense as her career progressed
Linda Medalen started out as a striker but moved towards defense as her career progressed

Linda Medalen began her career as a striker, making her debut for Norway in 1987. She won the unofficial Women's Football World Cup in 1988 and the European Championships in 1993. She was Norway's leading scorer at the 1991 World Cup, netting six goals as the team finished second. The Norwegian was a five-time league champion and three-time cup winner for the Norwegian team Asker SKK.

Medalen shifted to defense as her career progressed, and her aerial skills and hard tackling helped Norway win the 1995 World Cup. They conceded only one goal in six games in that tournament. She competed in the 1999 competition but was unable to compete in the 2000 Olympics due to a knee injury.

In 1991 Carin Jennings won Golden Ball, @MichelleAkers10 won Silver & Norway’s Linda Medalen earned Bronze. #tbt http://t.co/uwrpG7eJno

Medalen also worked as a police officer and became a politician after retiring from football. She was also openly lesbian and her presence in football in the late 20th century sent a strong message against homophobia.

Norwegian soccer player Linda Medalen and her wife Trude lesbianfunworld.com/2015/12/12/nor… https://t.co/O08J1Lf0KA

#2 Birgit Prinz - Germany

Germany v Canada: Group A - FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. Birgit Prinz is wearing the white Germany jersey.
Germany v Canada: Group A - FIFA Women's World Cup 2011. Birgit Prinz is wearing the white Germany jersey.

Birgit Prinz, Germany's top female footballer, is a towering center-forward who is as strong on the ground as in the air. She won the Women's Bundesliga, the German Cup, and the first UEFA Women's Cup with FFC Frankfurt in 2002.

On this day in ...1993: Roberto Baggio 🏆2005: @10Ronaldinho & Birgit Prinz 🏆🏆were named the top players in the world 💪 https://t.co/zz4t6TKTFN

Prinz subsequently relocated to the United States to play for the Carolina Courage. She scored 12 goals in 15 games to help her team win the WUSA championship. The German has won three European Championships, and in 2003, she scored seven goals to help her country win the World Cup. She also won the Golden Boot in that tournament.

#OnThisDay in 2007, 🇩🇪Germany won their second consecutive #FIFAWWC title, thanks to a 2-0 victory over 🇧🇷Brazil in the Final Birgit Prinz & @SimoneLaudehr scored the goals in 🇨🇳Shanghai 🙌#MondayMotivation | @DFB_Frauen https://t.co/y1Gy7Al9Pf

Prinz was named FIFA World Women's Footballer of the Year in the same year, which she kept in 2004.

#1 Mia Hamm - USA

United States of America was dominating women's football with the help of Mia Hamm's ruthless goalscoring exploits
United States of America was dominating women's football with the help of Mia Hamm's ruthless goalscoring exploits

When talking about women's football, people mention the likes of Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe as the greatest in the sport. However, the honor of greatest women's footballer has to go to Mia Hamm.

Ronaldo and Messi are mentioned in the same breath in a discussion about the greatest men's player. However, no name is great enough to be taken in the same breath as Hamm's when it comes to women's football.

She had a partial club foot from birth that required plaster casts to set right and went on to become the world's finest female footballer. When Hamm made her debut against China at the age of 15, she was the youngest player in the US women's football team's history. She was also the youngest member of the US squad that won the 1991 World Cup.

Most career hat-tricks in #USWNT history:🎩 Mia Hamm - 10🎩 Carli Lloyd - 9🎩 Abby Wambach - 8🎩 Cindy Parlow - 8🎩 Michelle Akers - 7🎩 𝐀𝐥𝐞𝐱 𝐌𝐨𝐫𝐠𝐚𝐧 - 𝟔🎩 Christen Press - 4🎩 Sydney Leroux - 4 https://t.co/hy90zTzHkP

The Alabama native went on to compete in three more World Cups, capturing two gold and one silver medal at the Olympics. She was the leading scorer in the history of women's football internationally for a very long time.

Hamm is a great all-round player with an icy-cool finish. She was also a founding member of the WUSA, having joined the Washington Freedom in 2001.

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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