Formiga forever: Brazil's stalwart still shining for women's football at 42

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft. When England stepped out at Meadow Lane in October 2018, having qualified unbeaten for the Women’s World Cup, all eyes were on one opponent: Brazil’s six-times Ballon d’Or winner, Marta. The Brazil performance matched Marta’s lacklustre mood but in the then 40-year-old Formiga they had a player who would not subscribe to her teammates’ indifference – with the young winger Ludmila the exception alongside her. The Paris Saint-Germain midfielder, who on Thursday signed a new contract which will take her up to her seventh Olympic Games next summer and keep her at the top of European football into her 44th year, plays with abandon and a desire to progress thegame every time she laces up her boots. Unlike the one-word monikers of many Brazilian greats, Formiga is a nickname, not a shortened version of her name: Miraildes Maciel Mota. Triggered by her unselfish play and intensity, her teammates on the streets of Salvador called her the Portuguese word for ant, and it stuck. She has played 77 games for PSG since joining in 2017 and won the Coupe de France, a freak storm helping the team deny Lyon the treble in 2018. After the 2016 Rio Olympics Formiga announced her international retirement, only to be coaxed back by the manager, Vadão, to help the team through qualifying for France 2019. Even then she had no intention of playing at the tournament, but eight months before kick-off she told Fifa’s website: “Breaking barriers spurs me on.” In the Group C opener against Jamaica she overtook Christie Pearce (Rampone) as the oldest player to compete at a Women’s World Cup at 41 years and 98 days. You could argue that Formiga’s longevity at the top of Brazilian football is an indictment of the development of female players in the country, and Formiga would probably agree. In that game against Jamaica Cristiane Rozeira became, at 34, the oldest player to score a Women’s World Cup hat-trick. Perhaps an inability to progress the domestic game in Brazil significantly and provide pathways to the top is part of the reason why the Seleção have failed to better finishing as World Cup runners-up in 2007. The pioneers have rolled back the years time and again in an effort to force change. Since turning pro, she is undefeated (14-0) and the current undisputed womens' lightweight world champion.  Country: U.S. Won 23 Grand Slam singles titles between 1999 and 2017, including seven Wimbledon victories. Country: Brazil Holds record for most goals scored (15) at the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Country: U.S. Won 12 Grand Slam singles titles between 1966 and 1975, including six Wimbledon wins. Country: Hungary In 1991, at the age of 15, she broke the record of World Champion Bobby Fischer to become the youngest international Grandmaster ever at the time. Also, she is the only woman to have beaten a reigning world number one player, defeating the likes of Magnus Carlsen, Garry Kasparov and Viswanathan Anand. Winner of the 2008 Indy Japan 300 – the only woman to win in an IndyCar Series to date. In 2012, she created history by becoming the first ever female boxer to win an Olympic title at the London Games. Also became the first Australian, male or female, to score 2,000 runs in Twenty20 Internationals during the 2017-18 India women’s Tri-Nation Series. Winner of four Olympic golds at the 2016 Rio Games in team, all-around, vault and floor exercise competitions. Country: Germany Won 22 Grand Slam singles titles between 1987 and 1999, including seven Wimbledon victories. Country: New Zealand At the age of 17, she became the youngest player, male or female, to get the top rank in professional golf, in 2015. Country: Czechoslovakia Won 18 Grand Slam singles titles between 1978 and 1990, including nine Wimbledon victories. Country: U.S. Garnered 12 wins out of 14 mixed martial arts matches, including three by knockout.