Alex Morgan: U.S. star shares FIFA 16 cover with Lionel Messi

CNN  — 

She has graced the pages of some of the biggest magazines in the world – Sports Illustrated and ESPN, to name just two – but Alex Morgan’s latest “shoot” is a step into the unknown, even for the USWNT forward.

Morgan stands next to Argentina’s Lionel Messi on the U.S. cover of the FIFA 16 video game’s upcoming release – the first time a female soccer player has been featured by the franchise in this way.

“It is an incredible honor to be one of the first women featured on the cover of EA SPORTS FIFA,” Morgan said in a press release from EA Sports.

“I know people all over the world play this game and I’m really excited that FIFA 16 is putting such an important spotlight on women’s soccer.

“And now to share the cover with today’s greatest player is surreal.”

Morgan played an integral part in the USWNT’s World Cup triumph in July that saw it lift the trophy after beating Japan 5-2 in the final.

Best photos from the 2015 Women’s World Cup

Her latest medal was another in the long list of personal and team achievements Morgan has accumulated over the course of her career – including an Olympic Gold, three Algarve Cups and a CONCACAF Player of the Year Award.

Her increasing worldwide popularity, and that of women’s football in general, meant it was an easy decision to stand her alongside Messi.

The version of the game that features Morgan and Messi will be sold across North America, though all-time leading scorer for the Canadian national team, Christine Sinclair will feature on the cover sold in Canada.

“As soon as we knew Women’s National Teams were joining FIFA 16, we immediately recognized that Christine and Alex would be the perfect cover athletes based on their accomplishments and what they represent for their respective countries and the sport of women’s soccer,” said David Pekush, senior manager of North America marketing for EA SPORTS.

“They are exhilarating players and exude heart and courage on the pitch, and we are extremely proud to be working with them this year.”

In another major boost for women’s soccer, Australia defender Stephanie Catley, just 21-years-old, will feature alongside Messi on the cover of the version sold Down Under.

“Words can’t describe the excitement I’m feeling about being on the cover of FIFA 16, it’s a dream come true!” said Catley.

“It’s been a huge year for the Westfield Matildas [Australia’s national team] and getting this recognition from EA SPORTS and FIFA fans for all our hard work is a great step forward for women’s football on both a local and global scale,” added Catley, referring to Australia’s achievement in reaching the quarterfinals before defeat by Japan.

“I’ve always been a huge FIFA fan and knowing that I will be playable in the game, as well as being on the cover alongside Lionel Messi, is a career highlight for me!

“I would like to thank Australia for voting and cannot wait to see it on the shelves!”

The game launches on September 22 and will feature 12 women’s national teams: England, Brazil, USWNT, Australia, Sweden, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain.

However, 2011 World Cup champion and 2015 runner-up Japan will not feature in the game.

Alex Morgan – Body confident and ready to play