The first time Formiga stepped onto the pitch for a senior club match was 1993. I suspect that a hefty percentage of this website’s readers had not yet been born. By the time Marta and her teammates took the World Cup by storm in 2007, Formiga was already an established 29-year-old veteran, leading a team of exciting youngsters. She’s the oldest player to ever appear at the World Cup at 41, and she’s the only player to play at seven World Cups. She’s also not done playing at the highest level.
On Thursday, Paris Saint-Germain announced that it had extended Formiga’s contract for another season.
Somos juntos Formiga— PSG Féminines (@PSG_Feminines) May 7, 2020
✍ #Formiga2021 pic.twitter.com/ykh5ud0lpr
Lest you think they’re just keeping her around for some veteran leadership, her appearance numbers tell a different story. Formiga has played in 15 matches across all competitions for PSG, completing the full 90 on 12 occasions.
Formiga might not have quite the same burst of pace that she did a few years ago, but she’s finding ways to contribute without it. And before moving on, let’s just marvel at the fact that a 37-year-old still possessed the level of athleticism that Formiga showed off in this goal against South Korea.
For the first 20 years of her career, Formiga was a highly active box-to-box midfielder who provided a serious goal-scoring threat. She’s much more of a holding player now, and she’s gotten so good at positioning herself in a defensive role that she can stifle opposition attacks and run the show in midfield without having to move much at all. And she’s still fit enough that she can close down an attacking midfielder aggressively when she has to.
Brazil has been trying to find a Formiga replacement for years, but hasn’t quite managed it. Her team surprisingly hung with France in the World Cup round of 16 while she was fit, but when she had to come out of the match after picking up a knock, the Brazilian midfield crumbled. France’s Amandine Henry dominated from the point that Formiga exited until the end of the match.
Players like Thaisa, Andressinha and Poliana have put together solid careers, but have never quite managed to fill Formiga’s shoes. 18-year-old Yaya Vitoria looks like a massive talent, but far from ready to marshal the midfield for the Seleção. Incredibly, Formiga seems up to the task of sticking around for at least one more year while coach Pia Sundhage gets Yaya or another youngster up to speed.
Marta, who has been Formiga’s teammate for 18 years now, made headlines during the World Cup with a speech in which she said “there’s not going to be a Formiga forever.” As my colleague Sam Gregory pointed out to me, she might have been wrong. There’s been a Formiga in professional soccer for 27 years, and she’s still a vital player for club and country.
No one thought she’d still be this good at 42. Who’s to say she can’t keep contributing until she’s 45? Maybe we’ll see her on the biggest stage again in 2023.