Excitement is building ahead of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, with hosts Canada taking on China PR in the opening game tonight (10.35pm Irish time), and thankfully for us, BBC are broadcasting the games live.
Since the competition first began in 1991, four nations have claimed the the coveted trophy… and as for the best players, well, here’s my Ultimate World Cup team:
NADINE ANGERER (Germany)
Angerer is a FIFA Women’s Player of the Year winner, and is the first goalkeeper, male or female, to win the award. She also set the record for most consecutive minutes without allowing a goal at 540, going the entire 2007 World Cup without conceding a single goal.
LAURA GEORGES (France)
Defender Georges has 157 caps for France and featured in the 2003 and 2011 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. She plays her football with Paris Saint-Germain.
SASKIA BARTUSIAK (Germany)
Defender Bartusiak was a winner of the 2007 World Cup and featured in the 2011 World Cup. She also won a bronze medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics. She has 79 caps.
KELLY SMITH (England)
Smith competed in two World Cups, three UEFA Championships and one Olympics. After 117 caps, this spring she announced her retirement from international football, but she’ll be heard doing commentary for Fox Sports in Canada.
HOMARE SAWA (Japan)
Incredibly, 36-year-old midfielder Sawa will feature in her sixth World Cup. In 2011 she captained her country to victory, before winning silver at the 2012 London Olympics.
KRISTINE LILLY (USA)
Lilly was one of the best midfielders in the game, racking up 352 caps and 130 goals. A two-time World Cup winner, she has also played six matches in five different World Cups.
MICHELLE AKERS (USA)
The winner of the Golden Boot for most goals in the inaugural 1991 World Cup, Akers won the World Cup both that year and in 1999.
Her physical presence – despite suffering from chronic fatigue – made her stand out, with 105 goals in 153 games.
BIRGIT PRINZ (Germany)
The legendary striker featured heavily in three World Cups.
A three-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Prinz amassed more caps and goals for Germany than any other player, and she is also the record goalscorer in FIFA Women’s World Cup history.
MIA HAMM (USA)
Mia Hamm dominated the global scene in the 1990s, with 275 caps and scoring 158 goals for Team USA – the international goal scoring record which was eventually surpassed by fellow American Abby Wambach.
She was part of the US team that won the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in China in 1991 and in the United States in 1999.
Marta Vieira is the most valuable female soccer player in the world.
She’s won the FIFA World Player of the Year award more times than any other female soccer player, and is currently tied for first with 14 career World Cup goals.
She has scored 111 goals in total in 103 appearances for Brazil.
ABBY WAMBACH (USA)
An incredible goal-poacher, Wambach has scored 167 international goals, more than any other soccer player, male or female, in the history of the sport.
Wambach has played in three World Cups, finishing third in 2003 and 2007, and runner-up in 2011.
ON THE BENCH:
- Hope Solo (USA)
- Sue Wen (China PR)
- Christine Sinclar (Canada)
- Nadine Kessler (Germany)
- Nilla Fischer (Sweden)