Northern latitudes helped make Marta a player of Sol importance

Ferreira during his transatlantic calls communed often with Marta’s answering machine. He encountered and made allowances for Marta’s unpredictable temperament: “Throughout my life I have dealt with various women,” Ferreira tells Graciano, “but Marta was the most difficult, uh!”

To Jeglertz, whose tenure at Umeå corresponded to Marta’s—he has left to coach the men’s team at Djurgården—fell the job of introducing her to a professional training routine and integrating her into an accomplished side with a tactical plan. Umeå, on the strength of national-team stalwarts Malin Moström (at the club from 1995–2006) and Hanna Ljungberg, who has played for her hometown side since 1998, had won the previous year’s UEFA Women’s Cup.

Jeglertz also negotiated Marta’s capricious personality, which is demanding of her teammates on the pitch—and sometimes violent—yet easygoing, lithe, strumming a guitar and listening to beloved forró in leisure time. Jeglertz suspended her for one game last October for violating the “values and standards” of the club in a training incident. The club, after the Swedish Cup final in Oct 05, apologized on her behalf for punching Helén Fagerström in the face. Marta also said she was sorry for overreacting to a holding foul. Against LDB Malmö on 11 Jun 08, Marta kicked Emma Wilhelmsson in the stomach after a foul outside the penalty area. A second Malmö player shoved Marta to the turf, and a brief mêlée ensued. Referee Pernilla Larsson issued Marta a straight red. (Someone has distributed a video montage of the latter two incidents with sneering soundtrack.)

Tomas Ruuth Ruuth

Tomas Ruuth, who has covered Umeå IK for local newspaper Västerbottens Folkblad, acknowledges in the podcast that Marta was “maybe a little bit hard to coach … but a player like Marta has to have a free role, so she’s able to do what she wants because, in the end, that’s what changes the matches and decides. That’s how she scores her goals.”

For Umeå she made stunning goals, 111 in 103 league games and 167 in all domestic and European competitions. “In little time I was able to enter into the rhythm of the game,” Marta tells Graciano of her rapid development, “but it felt very cold.” She was critical to Umeå’s 8–0 aggregate victory over FFC Frankfurt in the final of the 2004 UEFA Women’s Cup.

The numbers of goals and assists speak also to Marta’s physical condition. She has not suffered major injury, although, except for big international tournaments, combined demands of club and country have not been overwhelming. The physio for Brazil’s women’s team, Vinícius, in Graciano’s book describes Marta as having the ideal muscle structure for women’s soccer. “She has strength, speed, mobility and agility. Robinho possesses similar characteristics and biotype.”

Marta appears on O Globo’s Mais Você (Plus You) on 11 Dec 08. There are laughs and tears as the show airs clips of the Ronaldo v. Zidane charity match Nov 17, her hometown Dois Riachos, local side Centro Sportivo Alagoano and a 2006 parade in Maceió to honor her return after receiving her first FIFA World Player of the Year award. Everyone gets hugs, including host Ana Maria Braga and Louro José, the sidekick parrot who has his own blog. (© 2008 globo.com; 10:12)

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