Marta is the all-time leading goalscorer in men’s and women’s World Cup football

Brazil legend Marta gave an emotional speech calling on her country’s young players to follow in her generation’s footsteps after being knocked out of the Women’s World Cup by hosts France.

Amandine Henry’s extra-time winner gave France a 2-1 last-16 win to end Marta’s hopes of winning a first World Cup.

Marta became the leading scorer at men’s and women’s World Cups last week.

“Women’s football depends on you to survive,” said the 33-year-old. “Think about it, value it more.”

Speaking on the pitch following the defeat in Le Havre, and with tears in her eyes, she added: “We’re asking for support, you have to cry at the beginning and smile at the end.

“It’s about wanting more, it’s about training more, it’s about looking after yourself more, it’s about being ready to play 90 minutes and then 30 minutes more.

“So that’s why I am asking the girls. There’s not going to be a Formiga forever, there’s not going to be a Marta forever, there’s not going to be a Cristiane.”

The six-time world player of the year became the first footballer to score in five separate World Cups and her 17 goals represent more than a quarter of Brazil’s overall goals in the competition.

But despite winning the Golden Ball as top scorer at the 2007 finals, Marta has never won the illustrious trophy to add to her two Olympic silver medals.

“I am proud of our performance, the grit that we showed until the end,” she said. “That’s the feeling that I will keep with me. Those are the kind of matches that will help women’s football to continue to grow.”

Marta has been vocal in her quest for equality in women’s football and she hopes her recent record-breaking feats will help the “push for women’s empowerment”.

“We are trying to represent women and show how women can play any type of role,” she said. “All the teams here, we are all representing [women]. Let me be clear, this is not only in sport.

“This is a struggle for equality across the board.”

BBC Sport has launched #ChangeTheGame this summer to showcase female athletes in a way they never have been before. Through more live women’s sport available to watch across the BBC this summer, complemented by our journalism, we are aiming to turn up the volume on women’s sport and alter perceptions. Find out more here.

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