19 Greatest Female Soccer Players of All Time

Who are the greatest female soccer players of all time? Women have been playing soccer since the origin of the game. Believe it or not, women’s soccer used to be banned in different countries.

In England, the ban lasted for nearly fifty years until 1970. But the sport remained popular among the women, and they continued playing soccer. Things have changed since.

The first women’s soccer World Cup was held in 1991.

Mia Hamm
Mia Hamm (Source: Courier-Journal)

Thanks to their struggle, women’s soccer have been able to flourish and evolve. 

Did you know Christine Sinclair won the 2022 Best FIFA Special Award for being the world’s All-Time leading scorer?

So today, we are looking at some of the significant female figures of women’s soccer who have contributed to the sport and paved a path for coming generations.

Quick Overview

Here is a summary of our list in the table below.

Player’s NameCountry
19. Joy FawcettUnited States
18. Briana ScurryUnited States
17. Hope SoloUnited States
16. SissiBrazil
15. CristianeBrazil
14. Carin Jennings-GabarraUnited States
13. Kristine LillyUnited States
12. Nadine AngererGermany
11. Hege RiiseNorway
10. Carli LloydUnited States
9. Christine SinclairCanada
8. Kelly SmithEngland
7. Sun WenChina
6. Abby WambachUnited States
5. Homare SawaJapan
4. Michelle AkersUnited States
3. Birgit PrinzGermany
2. MartaBrazil
1. Mia HammUnited States

19 Greatest Female Soccer Players of All Time

The articles’ primary sources of reference are trusted internet sites like TheGuardian.

19. Joy Fawcett

  • Position: Defender

We are starting our list of the greatest female soccer players of all time with former American professional soccer player Joy Fawcett.

Fawcett was part of the Manhattan Beach club women’s soccer team Ajax in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Joy Fawcett
Joy Fawcett With Her Olympics Medal (Source: Live Mom)

At the time of her retirement in 2004, Fawcett was the highest-scoring American defender, earning 241 caps. She is the National Soccer Hall of Famer.

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18. Briana Scurry

  • Position: Goalkeeper

On number 18, we have Briana Scurry. She is a former professional player who began her soccer journey in high school.

Scurry made her senior debut in 2001 with Atlanta Beat. She also played for the Washington Freedom. She is the second goalkeeper with the most international appearances, 173.

Briana Scurry
Goalkeeper Briana Scurry (Source: Briana Scurry)

Similarly, she was the first female goalkeeper and the first black woman to be inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame.

17. Hope Solo

  • Position: Goalkeeper

Hope Solo is number 17 on our list of greatest female soccer players of all time. She made her senior soccer debut in 2000 with Philadelphia Charge.

From 2000 to 2016, Solo was a goalkeeper for the US women’s national team. During that time, the team won the World Cup championship and two Olympic gold medals.

Hope Solo
Hope Solo For United States (Source: The Guardian)

Solo is one of the top female goalkeepers and the Golden Glove awardee. Currently, she holds the record for most career clean sheets for her country.

16. Sissi

  • Position: Attacking Midfielder

On number 16 of the greatest female soccer players of all time, we have Sisleide do Amor Lima, famously known as Sissi. The Brazilian soccer player made her senior debut in 1996 with Saad Esporte Clube.

Sissi
Brazilian Soccer Player Sissi (Source: FIFA)

Sissi played for the Brazilian women’s national soccer team. Her career spanned from 1996 to 2009. Aside from playing, she also works as a coach.

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15. Cristiane

  • Position: Forward

The next female soccer player on our list is the prolific forward Cristiane. The 37 year-old player currently plays for the Santos and the Brazilian women’s national team.

Cristiane
Brazilian Soccer Player Cristiane (Source: Outsports)

Cristiane was part of the Brazilian national team and won the silver medal at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic soccer tournaments.

She has appeared in five FIFA Women’s World Cups and four Olympics.

14. Carin Jennings-Gabarra

  • Position: Forward

On number 14 on our list of the greatest female soccer players of all time, we have retired American soccer player Carin Jennings-Gabarra. Her professional career spanned from 1987 to 1996.

Jennings-Gabarra played for the Los Angeles Blues (now the Southern California Blues) and Southern California Ajax of Manhattan Beach, California.

Carin Jennings-Gabarra
American Soccer Player Carin Jennings-Gabarra (Source: Facebook)

In her career, she earned 117 caps and won the Golden Ball Award as the best player at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991. She became the National Soccer Hall of Famer in 2000.

13. Kristine Lilly

  • Position: Midfielder/Forward

The next player on our list is a retired American soccer player, Kristine Lilly. She made her senior career debut in 1994.

Kristine Lilly
Kristine Lilly (Source: MAC Hermann Trophy)

Lilly was part of the US women’s national team from 1987 to 2010.

During this period, she became the most-capped soccer player (male or female) in the sport’s history and scored 130 goals for the team.

12. Nadine Angerer

  • Position: Goalkeeper

Regarded as one of the best female goalkeepers, we have German professional soccer player Nadine Angerer at number 12 on our list.

The 44 year-old is also the goalkeeping player-coach for the Portland Thorns.

Nadine Angerer
Nadine Angerer, German Goalkeeper (Source: FOCUS online)

Angerer made her senior club debut in 1995 and her national team debut in 1996.

She was a member of the national team each time when Germany won the UEFA Women’s Championship (five-time).

Angerer became the first goalkeeper (male or female) to be named the 2014 FIFA World Player of the Year.

11. Hege Riise

  • Position: Midfielder

Number 11 of the greatest female soccer players of all time is former soccer player Hege Riise.

The 53 year-old is considered one of her generation’s best female soccer players.

Hege Riise
Hege Riise (Source: The Guardian)

Riise made her senior club debut in 1989 and her national team debut in 1990.

She was part of the Norway women’s national soccer team, which won the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the UEFA Women’s Euro.

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10. Carli Lloyd

  • Position: Midfielder

Former soccer player Carli Lloyd is number 10 on our list of the greatest female soccer players of all time. She made her senior debut in 1999 with Central Jersey Splash.

Carli Lloyd
Carli Lloyd (Source: Wikipedia)

Similarly, Lloyd also had 316 appearances for the US women’s national soccer team.

During her career, she won the Olympic gold medal twice and FIFA Women’s World Cup championship twice.

9. Christine Sinclair

  • Position: Forward/Midfielder

The 39 year-old Christine Sinclair is a Canadian professional soccer player and captain for Portland Thorns and the Canadian women’s national soccer team.

Christine Sinclair
Canadian Soccer Player Christine Sinclair (Source: Bleacher Report)

Sinclair is one of the most-capped active international soccer players and the all-time leader in international goals scored (male or female).

Similarly, she won the 2022 Best FIFA Special Award for being the world’s all-time leading scorer.

8. Kelly Smith

  • Position: Forward

On number 8 of the greatest female soccer players of all time, we have former soccer player Kelly Smith. She made her senior club debut with Wembley Ladies in 1994.

During her career, from 1994 to 2017, she was also part of other clubs like Arsenal Ladies, New Jersey Lady Stallions, Philadelphia Charge, New Jersey Wildcats, and Boston Breakers.

Kelly Smith
Kelly Smith (Source: The Sun)

Smith’s career was plagued with injuries. However, she won 117 caps for England’s national team and is the country’s second-highest goalscorer.

7. Sun Wen

  • Position: Forward

Sun Wen is a Chinese former professional soccer player and is considered one of the all-time greats. Beginning her career in 1989, she also played for the China national women’s soccer team.

Wen served as a captain for the national team. In her career, she played for the Women’s United Soccer Association (WUSA) team, Atlanta Beat, and also captained the team.

Sun Wen
Chinese Former Soccer Player Sun Wen (Source: Facebook)

For her performance at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Wen was awarded a Golden Ball and a Golden Boot. Similarly, she was named the 2000 FIFA Female Player of the Century.

6. Abby Wambach

  • Position: Forward

Abby Wambach is the sixth player on our list of the greatest female soccer players. The former soccer player made her senior club debut in 2002 with Washington Freedom.

She was awarded the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2012.

Abby Wambach
Hall Of Famer Abby Wambach (Source: Stars and Stripes FC)

Similarly, Wambach was also part of the 2004 and 2012 Olympics, where the US won gold. She is the National Soccer Hall of Famer.

5. Homare Sawa

  • Position: Midfielder

Homare Sawa is regarded as one of the greatest female soccer players and the greatest Asian female soccer players of all time. The former player’s professional club career spanned 24 seasons.

Sawa made her senior club debut in 1991 and played for the Japan national team for 22 seasons. She has also played for international clubs like Atlanta Beats and Washington Freedom.

Homare Sawa
Homare Sawa (Source: Equalizer Soccer)

In the 2011 World Cup, Sawa won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot for her performance.

She is the most capped Japanese female soccer player.

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4. Michelle Akers

  • Position: Forward/Midfielder

Michelle Akers is a former American soccer player and is regarded as one of the greatest female soccer players of all time. She made her senior club debut in 1990.

Akers made appearances for the US national women’s soccer team. During the 1991 World Cup, she won the Golden Boot for her performance.

Michelle Akers
Michelle Akers (Source: Instagram)

Similarly, Akers was named the 2002 FIFA Female Player of the Century. She became the National Soccer Hall of Famer in 2004.

3. Birgit Prinz

  • Position: Forward/Attacking midfielder

Our third greatest female soccer player of all time is Birgit Prinz. She is a former German soccer player who is one of the most prolific strikers in women’s soccer.

Birgit Prinz
Birgit Prinz (Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Prinz made her senior career debut in 1993 and her national team debut in 1994.

She has won the FIFA Women’s World Cup twice and the FIFA World Player of the Year three times.

2. Marta

  • Position: Forward

On number 2 of the greatest female soccer players of all time, we have Marta Vieira da Silva commonly known as Martha. She is a Brazilian professional soccer player who plays for the Orlando Pride.

Marta made her senior career debut in 2000 and plays for the Brazilian national women’s soccer team. She is Brazil’s top international goalscorer (male or female).

Marta
Brazilian Soccer Player Marta (Source: Bleacher Report)

Similarly, Marta is the first soccer player (male or female) to score in five World Cup matches. In 2007, she was awarded the Golden Ball and Golden Boot.

1. Mia Hamm

  • Position: Forward

And our greatest female soccer player of all time title goes to a former American soccer player, Mia Hamm. She is considered a soccer icon for the US national women’s soccer team.

In her career, Hamm won the Olympic gold medal twice and FIFA Women’s World Cup championship twice.

Similarly, her 176 international caps and 144 career assists are ranked third in US national team’s history.

Mia Hamm
Mia Hamm (Source: Time.com)

Hamm was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame and was the first female inducted into the World Football Hall of Fame.

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