'Cry at beginning, smile at end': Marta makes emotional Brazil plea after bowing out of 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup
Six-time world player of the year sees hopes of finally lifting World Cup ended with 2-1 extra-time defeat to France in last 16
Brazil star Marta issued an emotional appeal to her heirs after bowing out of the 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup, telling them they are responsible for the survival of the women's game in her football-obsessed country.
The 33-year-old Marta, nicknamed "Pele in a skirt" by the Brazil great, is widely considered to be the best female player of all time.
However, her dream of winning a World Cup for the first time died again on Sunday in a 2-1 defeat to hosts France in the last 16 of this year's global showpiece.
"We're asking for support, you have to cry at the beginning and smile at the end," said Marta, the record World Cup scorer with 17 goals.
"You have to want more, train more, to be ready to play 90 minutes, plus 30 minutes extra time and every minute.
"This is what I ask the girls," she added before hailing fellow veterans Formiga and Cristiane who are also likely to have played in their last World Cups.
"Formiga is not forever, neither is Marta, neither is Cristiane. Women's football depends on you to survive. Think about it, savour it."
France survived a scare to beat Brazil in extra time and reach the quarter-finals when captain Amandine Henry scored a dramatic winner.
Lyon midfielder Henry struck in the 107th minute after Thaisa's equaliser for Brazil, following Valerie Gauvin's opener, had forced a 1-1 draw in 90 minutes.
The hosts will face either reigning champions the United States or Spain in the last eight in Paris on Friday.
"We have not reached our goal yet," manager Corinne Diacre told reporters. "I have to say I didn't recognise my team tonight but we managed to qualify."
"We won this game with our heads," added match-winner Henry. "We know we can always do better but we're very happy with the outcome.
"Fortunately we were able to pull it out of the bag."
France will, however, need to raise their game if they are to win their first World Cup.
"My players are not at their best level. Some are playing at 80 per cent of their potential, some at 60-70 per cent," Diacre said.
Brazil manager Vadao felt his team played their part in a thrilling contest and is confident they will be continue to be a force on the world stage.
"I think we've played four very good matches at this tournament and [losing] is just part of football.
"But we made it difficult for France today. We equalised and had a chance to go ahead, but we were never going to boss the game for the entire match because these teams are the best in the world.
"There is a renewal taking place but, going forward, there shouldn't be too many changes. Players like Marta and Cristiane should be playing for a few more years yet."
Updated: June 24, 2019 12:37 PM