The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup is on, and even if you’re not a football fan, you’ve probably seen some news from the tournament, especially if you’re Nigerian. The Nigerian team, the Super Falcons, though now out of the tournament following a 4-2 loss on penalties to England, caught our eye and captured our hearts.
In that spirit, we’ve highlighted five female footballers taking the world by storm. These women are marvels and giants of their sport in their own right. We hope to continue to see and hear of them and their exploits even when the World Cup is over.
Sam Kerr is an Australian professional football player who plays as a forward for Chelsea in the FA Women’s Super League and the Australia women’s national team, which she has captained since 2019. Kerr is widely regarded as one of the best forwards of all time and is the only female soccer player to have won the Golden Boot in three different leagues and on three different continents.
As of 2022, Kerr is the all-time leading Australian international scorer and the all-time leading scorer in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States, and was named the NWSL’s Most Valuable Player for the 2017 and 2019 seasons. So far, she has won 8 trophies with Chelsea, including back-to-back-to-back Women’s Super League titles, as well as helping the team reach the UEFA Women’s Champions League final for the first time in 2021.
At the 2019 world cup, she not only scored her first World Cup goal, but she netted all four of Australia’s goals in the team’s 4–1 group-stage victory over Jamaica.
Asisat Oshoala is the first and only African women’s player to score in three different world cup tournaments and is widely regarded as one of the greatest African female football players of all time and one of the best in the world. She is a Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a striker for FC Barcelona and the Nigeria women’s national team.
Oshoala has proven worthy of her acclaim and is one of the most celebrated African female footballers of all time, having won African Women’s Footballer of the Year a record five times.
Asisat was the highest goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and was named the best player at the tournament. She was also named best player and second top goalscorer with the Super Falcons team, who won the 2014 African Women’s Championship. She was the first African (and Nigerian) player to score a goal in a UEFA Women’s Champions League final and has helped Barcelona reach the semi-finals in three consecutive years and one final. In 2021, Asisat became the first African woman to win the UEFA Champions League, after Barcelona defeated Chelsea 4–0 in the finals.
Ada Hegerberg is a Norwegian professional footballer who plays as a striker for the Division Féminine club Lyon and the Norway national team. In 2018 she was the first-ever recipient of the Ballon d’Or Féminin.
In 2013, she was a part of the silver medalist team at the 2013 UEFA Women’s Championship, and she was on team Norway at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship and the 2022 UEFA Women’s Championship.
Hegerberg was awarded the 2016 UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe Award in 2016 and 2017, and in 2019 she was named the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year. She holds the record for most goals in a UEFA Women’s Champions League season (15) and is currently the all-time highest goalscorer in UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Alexia Putellas is a Spanish and Catalan professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Barcelona, which she captains, and the Spain women’s national team, which she has captained.
Having won all major club and individual awards available to a European player by 2022, she is widely regarded as the best contemporary female footballer in the world and one of the greatest of all time. In 2022, women’s football reporter Asif Burhan wrote that Putellas’ “dedication to the sport has revolutionised the women’s game.”
She has won seven league titles, seven Copas de la Reina, and two UEFA Women’s Champions League trophies with Barcelona. Putellas then went on to win the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year Award, the Ballon d’Or Féminin, and The Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2021, becoming the first player to win all three in the same year.
Hinata Miyazawa has scored five goals and has one assist out of her four appearances so far at the 2023 World Cup. She is a Japanese professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for Mynavi Sendai and the Japan women’s national team.
At the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Miyazawa contributed to a 5-0 victory over Zambia by scoring the first goal and third goal and she was named Player of the Match.
Michelle Alozie is an American-born Nigerian professional footballer who plays as a forward for the National Women’s Soccer League team Houston Dash and the Nigeria women’s national team.
Alozie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Molecular Biology from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and she played football for the Yale Bulldogs as an undergraduate. Her hilarious, very Nigerian woman response to being stomped on by a player from the English team in their last match made her a fan favourite for the game.
Megan Rapinoe, who will retire after the 2023 NWSL season and is playing her fourth and final World Cup, is an American professional soccer player who plays as a winger for OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), as well as the United States national team.
Rapinoe was the winner of the Ballon d’Or Féminin and was also named The Best FIFA Women’s Player in 2019. She also won gold with the national team at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The football player is a staunch activist for LGBTQ+ rights and trans rights especially, and also gained attention for kneeling during the national anthem at an international match in September 2016 in solidarity with NFL player Colin Kaepernick.