When it comes down to it, soccer is all about players who can put the ball in the back of the net. There is an art to scoring a goal, to having that instinct to being in the right place at the right time to finish a move or, alternatively, for a player to be able to create their own opportunity through their skill and then still have the composure to slot the ball home.
The women in this article certainly all know how to score a goal. Here is a look at some of the top goal scorers in the history of the Women’s World Cup.
Who is the top Women’s World Cup goal scorer of all time? The top goal scorer in the history of the Women’s World Cup is Brazilian maestro Marta. Marta scored 17 goals in 20 matches across five World Cups from her first tournament in 2003 through to the event in 2019. Astonishingly, she might not be done yet as the 36-year-old is still playing for the Orlando Pride in the NWSL and continues to add to her over 170 appearances for her national side.
Marta is a remarkable player for both her skill and her longevity. Marta recently picked up a serious knee ligament injury while playing for the Price, but that only seems to have strengthened her resolve to be back in time for the 2023 showpiece event in Australia and New Zealand.
Marta is in great company when it comes to the top goal scorers of all time in the Women’s World Cup.
Marta – 17 Goals (0.85 goals per game)
The story may or may not be written on Matra’s goal-scoring exploits at the World Cup. If it is, then she has left quite the legacy. The six-time FIFA World Play of the Year was as dominant individually as Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo at her peak. She won the World Player of the Year award a ridiculous five years in a row from 2006 to 2010 when she was in her absolute prime.
The three goals she scored at her first World Cup in 2003 were just a hint of what was to come. It was in 2007 when Marta really took off, scoring two goals each against New Zealand, China, and the USA, along with one against Australia, to finish as the leading goal scorer and tournament best player) with seven goals. The runners-up finish for Brazil behind a German side that is one of the top two or three ever to play in the women’s game is the best Brazil has ever done at a Women’s World Cup.
Further goals followed in 2011 (four), 2015 (one), and 2019 (two) to bring her career World Cup total to an impressive 17 goals to date.
Birgit Prinz – 14 Goals (0.58 goals per game)
Brigit Prinz is one of two players tied behind Marta for second place all-time with 14 goals at Women’s World Cup tournaments. The three-time FIFA World Player of the Year started her World Cup journey with a single goal at the 1995 tournament as Germany beat Brazil 6-1. She added just one more goal in the next tournament in 1999, which was ironically also against Brazil.
It was in the 2000s that Prinz (and Germany) really took off on the world stage. The Germans had been the dominant force in Women’s European soccer for over a decade and in 2003 they broke through at the World Cup. Prinz scored seven goals in the tournament as Germany was crowned champions. She also added the award for the tournament’s best player.
Germany repeated in 2007, becoming the first team to do so in the women’s game, and Prinz was again instrumental. She scored goals four through six in their 11-0 thumping of Argentina and picked up additional goals against Japan and, in a fitting last World Cup goal for the German star, against Brazil in the final.
Abby Wambach – 14 Goals (0.56 Goals per game)
Former Florida Gators star Abby Wambach played for the USA from 2001 to 2015 and scored 184 goals in an astonishing 255 games. At 5-foot-11 and with deceptive speed for her frame, Wambach bullied defenders and is one of the best women headerers of the ball to have ever played the game. She was part of some iconic teams and iconic moments in the history of women’s soccer.
Wambach’s first three World Cup goals came at the 2003 tournament. The first was against Nigeria as she scored the fourth goal in a 5-0 win. This was the first of two times that Wambach would finish in third place at a World Cup. Her second third-placed finish would come in 2007 as she scored six goals at the tournament including two in the third place match as the USA beat Norway 4-1.
In 2011 Wambach added four more goals to her World Cup tally. It was the final that left a bitter taste, however, with Wambach scoring in extra time to put the USA ahead 2-1 against Japan. A 117th-minute equalizer from Homare Sawa demoralized the US team and Wambach was the only player to score her penalty in the shootout as the USA lost 3-1.
Wambach scored once in the 2015 World Cup as a role player with her career nearing its end. She was, however, a 79th-minute substitute as the USA gained revenge over Japan with a 5-2 final win.
- Michelle Akers (12) – Scored 10 goals in six games at the 1991 Women’s World Cup including five in a 7-0 win over Chinese Taipei in the quarter-finals. Retired with 12 goals in 13 World Cup games for a strike rate of 0.92 goals per game, which is the best ever rate.
- Cristiane (11) – Still active at 37 years old and aiming to play in her sixth World Cup in 2023.
- Ann Kristin Aarones (10) – Only player close to Akers with a strike rate of 0.90. Played in just two tournaments (1995 and 1999) and was the leading scorer in 1995 with six in six. Finished with 10 goals in 11 games.
- Christine Sinclair (10) – Leading international scorer of all time (men or women) with 190 goals in 312 games to date. Still playing and aiming for a sixth World Cup in 2023.
- Carli Lloyd (10) – Scored a hat-trick inside of 16 minutes as the USA beat Japan in their 5-2 final win in 2015.