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Top five most influential female footballers in history

Top five most influential female footballers in history

There have been many trailblazers that have helped women’s football achieve the heights it has in recent times.

There have been many trailblazers that have helped women’s football achieve the heights it has in recent times.

The 2023 Women’s World Cup held in both Australia and New Zealand is set to be yet another crowning event for the sport.

There will be plenty of stars made, and icons who have already stamped their influence and are out to become legends

Ahead of the tournament kicking off, we take a look at the five most influential female footballers in the sport’s history.

5. Ada Hegerberg

Cal Sport Media / Alamy

Ada Hegerberg is one of the most powerful voices in the women’s game.

She’s been a star for Lyon since joining in 2014 having scored 136 goals in 156 games over her illustrious career, winning the Ballon d’Or Feminin in 2018 - the first-ever recipient of the award.

At the age of 27, she is one of the most in-demand athletes in the world having become an ambassador and star for brands such as Hublot, Mastercard, Puma, and Nike over the years.

Her voice off the field makes her one of the most influential figures in the sport. She’s been outspoken in her belief in equality, consistently ensuring her voice is heard.

She refused to represent the Norwegian national team following a dispute with the NFF in 2017 where she believed the remuneration for women should be doubled.

She missed the 2019 World Cup in protest and spent five years out of the national team in her fight for equal pay.

4. Sun Wen

PA Images / Alamy

Sun Wen is largely considered one of the most influential players in Asia due to her contributions on the field.

She captained the Chinese national team and made 659 appearances for her country during the 1990s and early 2000s.

Her performance at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup went down in women’s football history as one of the greatest individual performances in tournament history.

She scored seven goals en route to the final where China fell to the United States on penalty.

She became the first woman nominated for the Asian Football Confederation Award and in 2002, she received the IFFIA Female Player of the Century.

She proved that female footballers could be as iconic as the men and was a trailblazer for football in Asia.

3. Megan Rapinoe

Xinhua / Alamy

Megan Rapinoe is a well-known name in sports across the world.

Her tireless efforts for racial and gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and social justice have seen her face criticism by many. Which in itself, must mean she’s doing something perfectly right to challenge the social norms.

While she’s a brilliant footballer on the field, having two World Cups with the United States and earning multiple Player of the Year awards across many leagues, it's her efforts off the field that are truly amazing.

She has spoken out on issues such as Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem in 2016 and the recent overturn of Roe vs. Wade in 2022.

She has also been involved in United States Olympic & Paralympic committee and Juan Mata’s ‘Common Goal’, donating one per cent of their individual wages to support football-related charities.

On top of that, she’s been consistent in her efforts for US Women’s Soccer to be paid fairly and equally compared to their male compatriots.

A true pioneer of the game.

2. Sam Kerr

Associated Press / Alamy

Sam Kerr is a star on and off the field.

She has been a consistent force in the Australian team since her debut at just 16 years old and has gone on to lead the team at multiple World Cups with plenty of goals.

Her current exploits in England for Chelsea have proven that she is arguably the best women’s footballer on the planet - an achievement in itself.

Just this year she featured alongside Kylian Mbappe on the cover of FIFA 23, the first time a female player would appear on the global cover of the game franchise.

She has become a key part of Nike’s worldwide marketing strategy, alongside athletes such as Neyamr Jr, Serena Williams, and Megan Rapinoe.

And let’s be honest, she’s perhaps the most beloved athlete back home in Australia.

She was named the 2018 Young Australian of the Year and was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia for her services to football.

She is an inspiration for not only Australian girls but those across the world - and carries herself in such a way that you can’t help but love.

1.Mia Hamm

Abaca Press / Alamy

In a period where female footballers struggled to get the attention they deserved, Mia Hamm’s name shone through like no over.

She was the face of the United States women’s team from 1987 to 2004 and was largely considered the most important footballer in the country at the time.

Pele named her in his list of the 125 greatest living football players, while she won multiple Female Athlete of the Year awards, and became the first woman inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame.

She was a transcendent athlete in the 90s and 2000s, helping elevate the popularity of women’s football just as the likes of Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods had for their respective sports.

She was partnered with Jordan in a Nike campaign - truly cementing her status as a public sporting figure.

Of course, individual and team awards came along with her career, but her true influence comes from being a pioneer for women’s football and pushing it into the mainstream limelight.

With the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ tournament about to kick off, LADbible Australia has launched Her Squad: a campaign championing ‘her’, the female athlete realising dreams for millions like her.

In the lead-up to and throughout the tournament, LADbible Australia, its channels and its audience will become ‘her squad’, a team focussed on celebrating the pinnacle of women’s sport on our shores and the unlimited female potential that it will inspire.

Featured Image Credit: Zuma Press / Alamy. Orange Pics BV / Alamy.

Topics: Womens World Cup, Womens Football