Star bio: Norway's Ingvild Stensland
Norwegian commands respect from teammates and opponents alike
Born: Aug. 3, 1981, in Farsund, Norway
Clubs played for: Donn (Norway), Athene Moss (Norway), Kolbotn (Norway), Goteborg (Sweden), Lyon (France)
International career: Nominated on numerous occasions for FIFA's World Player of the Year award, Stensland has been a regular fixture for Norway ever since making her national team debut in 2003. She impressively guided her country to the semifinals of the 2007 FIFA World Cup and the quarter-finals of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, featuring a group-stage victory over the U.S., which went on to win the gold medal. She took over as captain of Norway in 2009.
Why is she so special? One of the most effective midfielders in Europe, Stensland is a ferocious tackler and tireless worker. She takes the team captaincy in her stride and commands respect from teammates and opponents alike. Stensland loves to shoot from long range and her free kicks have produced some spectacular goals.
Her most famous moment: Helping Norway reach the final of the 2005 European Championship against Germany, which they lost 3-1.
What they're saying about her: "I never really thought about another player as captain. She takes responsibility and the team listens when she speaks." — Eli Landsem, Norway national team coach
She said it: "Football will always be a funny thing to do. I'm happy all the time I can play."
Here's an interesting fact: Former Netherlands and AC Milan star Ruud Gullit was her childhood hero.