Like many young soccer players in Brazil, Camila grew up idolizing Marta.
Now her hero is her mentor.
Marta, the five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, has developed a close bond with 22-year-old Camila, who just scored her first international goal. The duo plays for both the Brazilian national team and the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League.
“She’s always advising me with many things inside the field and outside the field,” Camila said through a translator. “It’s always good when you have the best player in the world by your side, and it’s very motivating to have her by my side and helping me in the national team and also in Orlando.”
Asked if she’s proud of her young pupil, Marta didn’t hesitate to exclaim: “Of course I am!”
Known by just her first name, Marta Vieira da Silva has scored 109 goals in 114 international appearances with the Brazilian national team. The 31-year-old has the most World Cup goals among women with 15 – one shy of the World Cup record for men and women.
She also has 10 Olympic goals, tying her for third on the career list with former U.S. star Abby Wambach.
Marta, once called “Pele in skirts,” grew up playing street soccer with the boys in Dois Riachos, a town in eastern Brazil. She was just 17 when she appeared at the 2003 World Cup, held in the United States. She went on to win an unprecedented five straight FIFA World Player of the Year awards.
While Brazil has been slow to embrace the women’s game, Marta won hearts last summer when her home country hosted the Olympics. Some even crossed out Neymar’s name on their No. 10 Brazil jerseys and added Marta’s.
The Orlando Pride made a splash earlier this year when they signed Marta to a multi-year deal. She’s also already had a significant impact on the team with eight goals and four assists in 14 games.
Camila, whose full name is Camila Martins Pereira, signed with the Pride in December after making her debut with the senior Brazilian national team a few months earlier. Originally brought in as a defender, Pride coach Tom Sermanni shifted Camila to a more offensive role.
Marta suggested Camila is naturally gifted.
“She’s had so much potential. When I say, `Camila, go do what you want,’ it’s because Camila has so much she can do. Here, in the national team and there, in Orlando, team, she looks like – you know when you see a soccer player and you think she’s grown up with the talent,” Marta said.
One of Camila’s goals with the Pride was a dramatic 40-yarder in a 4-2 victory over the Houston Dash, which won NWSL Goal of the Week honors. It was very much like the one she scored Thursday in a 1-1 draw with Japan at the Tournament of Nations. That 25-yard blast was Camila’s first international goal.
The similarity between the two goals wasn’t lost on Marta.
“I was just so happy because Emily (Brazil coach Emily Lima) talked to us like two days ago and said, `Why don’t you do this here with the national team?’ Because she’d seen so many games in Orlando,” Marta said.
The Tournament of Nations continues on Sunday in San Diego. Brazil will face the top-ranked U.S. women, who lost 1-0 on Thursday night to Australia in Seattle. The four-nation round-robin tournament wraps up next Thursday in Carson, California.
The two spoke following the tournament’s opening game against Japan in Seattle, with Marta at times jumping in to finish Camila’s sentences and the two sharing personal asides in Portuguese.
“We need to see how far away Brazil is from other teams. So now we have this big opportunity to play against the USA, Australia and Japan, three big teams,” Marta said. “And see what we need to be stronger day after day. So for us it’s a big opportunity.”