Women's football continues to grow in popularity around the world, with FIFA announcing an expansion of the Women's World Cup, to 32 teams from the next edition in 2023, and an increase in prize money.
The United States Women's National Team (USWNT), two-time defending Women's World Cup champions, unsurprisingly produce some of the most recognised and popular players. Brazil, the game's traditional powerhouses, also count a number of the most well-known footballers in their ranks.
With the FIFA Best Player awards taking place this week, we've rounded up a team of 11 inspiring women's footballers that are worth following on social media - from a goalkeeper to strikers - with a little write-up of what exactly makes them so good.
Club: Paris Saint-Germain (Division 1 Féminine, France)
International caps: 69
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TIANEendler (76k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tianeendler/ (716k followers)
Chile's number 1 and national team captain, Christiane Endler is a goalkeeping icon who has helped lift her national team into the limelight in the women's game.
A winner of South America's prestigious Copa Libertadores with Colo-Colo in 2012, and keeper of the tournament in the Copa America Femenina in 2010, the seven-time Chilean player of the year has also found success in European club football, first with Valencia in Spain, before a move to PSG in the French women's league.
Endler helped the Paris club record their second Coupe de France Femenine trophy win in 2018, before starring at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup
But she's also making waves off the pitch. The Chilean has opened three all-female football schools in her home country, with plans for more as she aims to inspire more young girls to take up the sport.
Club: Paris Saint-Germain (Division 1 Féminine, France)
International caps/goals: 32/13
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jordynhuitema (12.3k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jordynhuitema/ (1.1m followers)
One half of Canadian soccer's power couple (her boyfriend is Bayern Munich player Alphonso Davies), Huitema has quickly made a name for herself on the global stage despite her young age.
Huitema earned her senior international debut in 2017 aged just 15, making her the third-youngest capped player in Canadian women's history. Later that year, just over a month after turning 16, she netted her first two international goals.
The British Columbian, who came through the youth team at the Vancouver Whitecaps, caught the eye of coaches at Paris Saint-Germain in 2018. She played for the French side on a non-contract basis in an exhibition tournament in 2018 but chose not to sign a full-time contract to maintain her eligibility to play college soccer.
However, the following year, Huitema changed her mind and opted to turn fully professional, forgoing college. She signed a deal with PSG that summer and has since made 27 appearances in all competitions for the team.
Club: Barcelona (Primera División, Spain)
International caps/goals: 15/7 at major tournaments.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/asisat_oshoala (641k followers)
Twitter: https://twitter.com/asisatoshoala (202.3k followers)
From being the top scorer at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup as Nigeria reached the final, to spearheading FC Barcelona Femeni's UEFA Women's Champions League push over the past couple of seasons, Asisat Oshoala has never been far from the headlines.
The former Liverpool and Arsenal striker won FA Cup honours in England, claimed the Chinese Women's Super League title with Dalian Quanjian FC, and now has Spanish league and cup winners medals to her name. She's also been an integral part of the Super Falcons team to have won the last three African Women's championships, the Cup of Nations.
The four-time African player of year was also recently included in the Forbes Africa under 30 list, and the shortlist for UEFA team of the year, as voted for by fans.
Club: Chicago Red Stars (NWSL, USA)
International caps/goals: 103/20
Twitter: https://twitter.com/julieertz (348k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/julieertz/ (one million followers)
Midfielder Ertz is a one-club player who has represented the Chicago Red Stars since her selection by the franchise with the third overall pick in the 2014 NWSL college draft. That first year, her performances earned her NWSL Rookie of the Year honours.
But her introduction to international football came before she even set foot on the pitch for an NWSL game, having been called up to the USWNT in 2013 in her senior year at Santa Clara University.
She would have to wait until 2015 to grab her first international goal, which came in the final of the invitational Algarve Cup as the U.S. defeated France for the trophy.
Her major honours include two Women's World Cups and two CONCACAF Women's Championships with the USWNT, and on an individual level has twice been named to the FIFPro Women's World XI.
Club: Santos (Série A1, Brazil)
International caps/goals: 147/96
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/crisrozeira/ (one million followers)
Ninety-six goals in 147 international appearances for Brazil tells the whole story.
Cristiane has always been a prolific goalscorer for both club and country, and has two Olympic silver medals, a Women's World Cup runners-up medal, two Pan American Games gold medals, a Copa América Femenina winners medal, and a Copa Libertadores with Santos in 2009 to her name.
The scorer of the fastest Olympic hat-trick in women's football when she netted three times in 14 minutes against Nigeria at Beijing 2008, Cristiane – who has played for clubs in Germany, Sweden, USA, Russia, South Korea, France, and China in addition to spells in Brazil – was also the joint-top scorer at Athens 2004 and has scored the most goals in women's Olympic history.
A true great of the women's game, who doesn't look like slowing down any time soon.
Position: Midfielder / forward
Club: Sky Blue FC (NWSL, USA)
International caps/goals: 294/123
Twitter: https://twitter.com/carlilloyd (908k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/carlilloyd/ (1.1 million followers)
Twice named the best women's player in the world by FIFA, Lloyd – who has made the third-most number of appearances for USWNT and scored the fourth-most goals – has long been a force on the international stage since her senior debut in 2005.
She is one of just two players to score a hat-trick in the final of a FIFA World Cup, doing so in 2015 (the other being Geoff Hurst of England in the 1966 men's final); she also scored the game-deciding goals in the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic finals.
Her club career dates back to 1999, when Lloyd was still in high school, playing in the semi-professional USL W-League. Incredibly, she has spent nearly all of her professional career in the United States, only leaving for a short three-month loan spell to Manchester City in 2017, where she won the FA Women's Cup.
Although she was left off the USWNT roster for a recent friendly match, Lloyd is expected to continue playing at the highest level for the U.S. for a while longer.
Club: Barcelona (Primera División, Spain)
International caps/goals: 118/47
Twitter: https://twitter.com/liekemartens1 (82.3k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liekemartens/ (1.2 million followers)
Martens is a Women's World Cup runner-up with the Dutch team from 2019 and UEFA Women's Championship winner in 2017 who began her professional career with Heerenveen in 2009 aged 16.
Since then, she has gone on to play in Belgium, Germany, and Sweden, before signing for giants Barcelona in 2017. The Spanish side would reach the final of the UEFA Women's Champions League in 2019, her second season, where they suffered defeat by Lyon.
Martens' senior international debut came in 2011, when she was not yet 19; she has gone on to make over a hundred appearances for the Oranje, netting nearly 50 goals along the way.
For her efforts in helping the team win the European Championship in 2017, Martens was named the UEFA Women's Player of the Year and The Best FIFA Women's Player that season, in addition to being named in FIFPro's Women's World XI.
Club: Atlético Madrid (Primera División, Spain)
International caps/goals: 15/6
Twitter: https://twitter.com/deynac18 (214.2k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deynacastellanos/ (1.4 million followers)
Venezuela's Castellanos had a prolific college career at Florida State University, where she scored 48 times in 82 appearances for the Seminoles. In her junior international career, she netted 35 goals for Venezuela's under-17 side, which earned her a surprise spot on the three-woman final shortlist for the 2017 The Best FIFA Women's Player to some controversy.
However, Castellanos has more than proven herself since. Earlier this year, she signed her first professional contract after agreeing a deal to play for Spain's Atlético Madrid; she has already scored multiple goals in barely half a season with the team and become just the second Venezuelan to ever play in the UEFA Women's Champions League.
Castellanos won her first cap for Venezuela aged just 15 at the 2014 Copa América Femenina, and has gone on to score six times for her country.
Club: OL Reign (NWSL, USA)
International caps/goals: 168/52
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mpinoe (915.6k followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mrapinoe/ (2.2 million followers)
Footballer, activist, and so much more.
Megan Rapinoe, the USWNT's co-captain, has won two Women's World Cups and an Olympic gold medal on the pitch, but much of her impact can be felt off pitch, too.
She recently said: "We need to use the talents, powers and skills that we have to make the world a better place."
Rapinoe has led from the front in that regard, being part of the USWNT's fight for equal pay and working conditions as well as openly advocating for LGBT rights organisations and for social and racial justice. She was named one of TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.
On the pitch, the Californian has played in the American, Australian, and French leagues at club level – winning a UEFA Women's Champions League runner-up medal with Lyon in 2013 – and was named The Best FIFA Women's Player in 2019 as well as being included in the FIFPro Women's World XI.
Club: Orlando Pride (NWSL, USA)
International caps/goals: 154/108
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/martavsilva10/ (2.3 million followers)
Perhaps the greatest female player of all time, Brazil's Marta has scored at five different Women's World Cup tournaments and is the competition's all-time top goalscorer with 17 goals.
A six-time FIFA Women's World Player of the Year / The Best Women's Player winner, the striker is the youngest recipient of the award, having been recognised in 2006 aged 20. She would go on to win the award the next four years in a row.
Like Cristiane, Marta is a two-time Olympic silver medallist, a Women's World Cup runner-up, and two-time Pan American Games champion. At the club level, she has also won the UEFA Women's Cup (with Swedish side Umeå in 2004) and Copa Libertadores Feminina (with Santos in 2009).
At the Rio 2016 Olympics, Marta was one of eight flagbearers who carried the Olympic Flag into the Maracanã Stadium during the Opening Ceremony. She also does advocacy work for the United Nations.
Club: Tottenham Hotspur (Women's Super League, England)
International caps/goals: 170/107
Twitter: https://twitter.com/alexmorgan13 (3.9 million followers)
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/alexmorgan13/ (9.3 million followers)
A London 2012 Olympic champion and two-time Women's World Cup winner, Morgan is one of the USWNT's co-captains and perhaps – at least judging by her social media followers – the most popular women's football player in the world.
After a successful college career, which saw her score 45 goals for the University of California, Berkeley Golden Bears, Morgan played in the Women's Professional Soccer league and NWSL until 2017, when she moved abroad for the first time.
Playing for Lyon – Europe's most successful team – she scored 12 goals in 16 games and helped the team win a treble, including the fourth of its seven (to date) UEFA Women's Champions League titles, before returning to the States and Orlando Pride for a further three years. Morgan gave birth in May 2020 and returned to football in September, signing with her current team, English side Tottenham Hotspur, with the aim of returning to fitness and form before the Olympic Games in 2021.
A three-time FIFPro Women's World XI selectee, Morgan made her senior international debut aged 20 in 2010 and has gone on to score over a hundred goals for USWNT.
Off the pitch, she is also a published New York Times Best Selling author and an actor, and contributed to the design of the Los Angeles 2028 emblem. She was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in 2019.