The most prestigious event in women's football, the FIFA Women's World Cup, has the top players from across the globe competing for the ultimate prize. Based on the votes of the media representatives, FIFA has given the Golden Ball to the greatest player of each edition since 1991. The Golden Ball is a prestigious award that honors a player's exceptional performance and contribution to her team's triumph. We shall examine the Golden Ball winners of every FIFA Women's World Cup edition in this blog post and emphasize their contributions to the game.
Carin Jennings - 1991
In 1991, China hosted the first FIFA Women's World Cup, which featured 12 teams. After beating Norway 2-1 in the championship game, the United States was declared the victor. Carin Jennings was the standout performer, tallying six goals and three assists over the course of six games. She scored a hat-trick in the first half to help the USA defeat Germany 5-2 in the semifinals. She also opened the scoring in the final matchup with Norway. As the greatest player in the competition, Jennings received both the Silver Boot for second-highest scoring and the Golden Ball for best player. Additionally, in 1991, she received the U.S. Soccer Female Athlete of the Year award.
Hege Riise - 1995
In 1995, Sweden hosted the second FIFA Women's World Cup, which included the same 12 nations. Hege Riise and Marianne Pettersen scored goals in the final as Norway defeated Germany 2-0 to avenge their loss to Germany in the 1991 match. With five goals and four assists in six games, Riise was instrumental in Norway's victory. Except for the championship game, she scored every time she played, including twice against England in the quarterfinals. She also used her corner kicks in the championship to help set up both goals. As the top performer in the competition and third-highest scorer, Riise received both the Bronze Boot and the Golden Ball. Additionally, in 1995, she received the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award.
Sun Wen - 1999
In 1999, the United States hosted the third FIFA Women's World Cup, which featured 16 teams for the first time. An exciting championship match between the hosts and China ended scoreless after extra time and required a penalty shootout. Brandi Chastain's winning penalty kick helped the USA defeat the opposition 5-4 in the shootout. Sun Wen, who scored seven goals and contributed two assists in six games, was the standout of China. She scored four goals, including a penalty and a free kick, against Ghana during the group stage. She also scored twice in the semifinals, including a breathtaking volley from beyond the box against Norway. Sun Wen received the Golden Ball for being the competition's top player.
Birgit Prinz - 2003
Originally slated to take place in China once more, the fourth FIFA Women's World Cup was abruptly relocated to the United States owing to the SARS pandemic. Nia Künzer's overtime game-winning goal helped Germany defeat Sweden 2-1 to win the championship for the first time. Birgit Prinz, who scored seven goals and had one assist in six games, was Germany's top scorer. Including a hat-trick against Argentina in the group stage and a brace against Russia in the quarterfinals, she scored in every match other than the championship match. She also headed across goal to assist Künzer in scoring the game-winning goal. Prinz received the Silver Boot and the Golden Ball for being the competition's top player.
Marta - 2007
In 2007, China hosted the fifth FIFA Women's World Cup, which included the same 16 teams. Brazil made it to their first final but fell to Germany, the first team to win the tournament again, 2-0. Marta, who scored seven goals and gave two assists in six games, was the standout of Brazil. Her goals included a hat-trick against New Zealand in the group stage and a brace against the USA in the semifinals. She scored in every match until the championship game. She also wowed the crowd with her inventiveness and skilled dribbling. Marta received both the Golden Ball for being the competition's best player and the Golden Boot for being the top scorer. Additionally, in 2007 she received the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award.
Homare Sawa - 2011
In 2011, Germany hosted the sixth FIFA Women's World Cup, which included the same 16 teams. After a 2-2 deadlock in extra time, Japan defeated the USA 3-1 on penalties to win the championship for the first time in Asian history. Homare Sawa, who scored five goals and supplied one assist in six games, was Japan's hero. She scored in four straight games, including a critical equalizer in extra time in the championship game against the USA and a hat-trick against Mexico in the group stage. Additionally, she scored on her penalty in the shootout. Sawa shared the Golden Boot as the tournament's top scorer with Marta and Abby Wambach and received the Golden Ball as its best player.
Carli Lloyd - 2015
In 2015, Canada hosted the seventh FIFA Women's World Cup, which featured 24 teams for the first time. The USA defeated Japan 5-2 to win their third championship. Carli Lloyd, who scored six goals and had one assist in seven games, was the standout of the USA. Four games in a row saw her score, including a hat-trick in the championship game that featured an incredible long-range strike from the halfway line. In the quarterfinal and semifinal matches against China and Germany, respectively, she also scored the game-winning goals. In addition to receiving the Silver Boot for finishing second in scoring, Lloyd received the Golden Ball as the competition's top player. Additionally, in 2015, she received the FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award.
Megan Rapinoe - 2019
In 2019, France hosted the eighth FIFA Women's World Cup, which included the same 24 teams. With a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands, the USA successfully defended their championship. Megan Rapinoe, who scored six goals and contributed three assists in five games, was the standout of the USA. Including two penalties against Spain and France in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively, she scored in four straight games. She also assisted Rose Lavelle on her goal in the championship game and scored the game's first goal from a penalty. Along with sharing the Golden Boot as the top scorer with Alex Morgan and Ellen White, Rapinoe received the Golden Ball for being the competition's finest player.