Sao Paulo (AFP) – Brazilian football legend Formiga said an emotional goodbye to the national team Friday after racking up a series of records in a 26-year career that included seven World Cups an seven Olympics.
The 43-year-old midfielder played her final match for the Selecao Thursday, going out with a 6-1 drubbing of India in a friendly in Manaus.
“It was marvelous. It couldn’t have been better,” she said in comments published Friday by the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
“The scoreboard was marvelous. It was just the way I’d imagined. Thank you everyone.”
The iconic number 8 came on in the 78th minute and had a couple chances to add to the lopsided score, but did not manage to convert.
That did not appear to dampen her spirits after the match, her 234th for the national team — a figure unrivalled in Brazilian football, men’s and women’s alike.
Formiga, who left Paris Saint-Germain in June to sign with Sao Paulo FC until December 2022, is the only player to have played in all seven editions of the women’s Olympic football tournament.
She won two silver medals along the way, in 2004 and 2008.
She is also the only player, man or woman, to play in seven World Cups.
She holds the records for oldest World Cup player (41 years, in 2019) and oldest goal-scorer in the tournament (37 years, in 2015).
Tributes poured in from some of the biggest names in Brazilian football, including Pele, Marta and Neymar.
“Congratulations with all my heart,” Pele said in a video message.
“Long live Brazil, and long live Formiga!”
Marta said it was “difficult to imagine the Selecao without Formiga, without the drive she always brought to practices and matches.”
Formiga, whose nickname means “ant,” was born Miraildes Maciel Mota in the northeastern city of Salvador in 1978.
At the time, it was illegal for women in Brazil to play football, a sport deemed “incompatible with their nature” under a 1941 law that was repealed in 1979.
She made her debut with the national team in 1995, at age 17.
For the first time in her storied career, her mother, Celeste, was present in the stadium to watch her Thursday.
She recalled how her daughter used to face “a lot of prejudice” as a girl for playing football.
It didn’t stop her.
“She just wanted to play ball all the time,” she said.