In July 2011, Homare Sawa captained Japan to its first ever FIFA Women's World Cup win with a 3-1 victory over the United States in a penalty shootout in the final. In addition, she was awarded the Golden Boot for being the tournament's leading scorer, with five goals, and the Golden Ball for being the top player. Long considered Japan's finest female footballer, she made her debut in Japan's domestic league at 12.
In December 1993, at 15, she made her Japanese international debut, scoring four goals against the Philippines. She has played more than 170 times for Japan, scoring 80 goals. Now a player with Kobe Leonessa in the Japanese league, she has also played for Yomiuri Beleza, Denver Diamonds, Atlanta Beat, NTV Beleza and Washington Freedom.