MELBOURNE, Australia -- Marta's legendary Women's World Cup career has come to an end after Brazil were eliminated from the 2023 iteration by Jamaica on Wednesday night via a scoreless draw.
Starting her first game for Brazil at this tournament, the attacker proved no more able than her teammates in finding a way through a stubborn and committed Jamaican defence at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, before being substituted in the 81st minute.
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The eventual 0-0 draw sees the Reggae Girlz advance from Group F alongside France and condemns Brazil to their first group-stage exit since 1995.
"Marta ends up here," Marta said, in Portuguese, in an on-field interview following the game's conclusion. "I am grateful for the opportunity I had, and very happy with everything that has been happening with women's football in Brazil and the world.
"For me, it's the end of the line now, for them it's just the beginning. It is hard to talk. It wasn't in my worst nightmares the World Cup I dreamed of.
"It's just the beginning. Brazilian people asked for renewal, it is being renewed, the only old woman is me and maybe Tamires next to me. Most of the team is made up of talented girls with a huge road ahead of them. I end here, but they continue."
After watching on from the dugout as Jamaica stormed the field at the game's conclusion, celebrating their own historic achievement of advancing to the round of 16, Marta moved post-game to embrace Jamaican star Bunny Shaw, with the two then engaging in an emotional exchange of words,
"I was telling her congratulations on a wonderful career that she has had," Shaw told reporters. "She was my inspiration growing up, she still is.
"The way she carried herself, the way she played, the leader that she is; I told her that she's not just an inspiration for me but a lot of young girls in the Caribbean and around the world.
"She said that she's watched our journey ever since we qualified and she credits us because every time we get knocked down we still get up and keep pushing and that fact that we're here, we're here for a reason, and we just have to keep going.
"She said that she's now supporting us moving forward."
The 37-year-old had told Brazilian media before departing for Australia that although she wasn't retiring from football, this would be her sixth and final tournament, the living legend declaring that "we have to understand that a time comes for us to prioritise other things."
She made her first appearance on the world's biggest stage back in 2003, bursting onto the scene as a 17-year-old by scoring three goals as Brazil advanced to the quarterfinals.
Four years later, she scored seven goals and was named player of the tournament in leading her nation all the way to the final, only to fall 2-0 to Germany in that decider.
That would prove the closest the attacker would ever come to lifting a World Cup, however, with three Copa America titles and two Olympic silver medals the highest points she has reached with the Selecao.
Though unable to add to the tally in Australia and New Zealand and, thusly, missing out on becoming the first-ever player to score in six World Cups, she is also Brazil's all-time leading scorer with 117 goals.
She was named FIFA World Player of the Year six times and became widely acknowledged as one of if not the greatest women's player of all time. Off the pitch, her profile transcended the game at a time when women's football largely existed in the shadows. For a generation, Marta was women's football.
"She was actually one of my favourite players, her and Christine Sinclair," said Jamaica's Tiffany Cameron. "She's been an inspiration to the younger generation and to myself. It was an honour to play against her today.
"We've got to just live on the legacy. We've got to, damn, do the best that we can and get to her level one day.
As for what's next, Brazil coach Pia Sundhage said that she didn't expect Marta's international career to cease immediately following the World Cup but that, as her thoughts turn to the future, the attacker wouldn't be guaranteed a place in her squad.
"With the team going forward, as long as I'm coaching the team, I'm going to put a lot of work to find some new players," Sundhage said. "That means it's harder for Marta to play in the national team because to make the team you need to be even better than today. I hope I have a lot of players to choose from."