In the semi-finals of the Women’s Champions League, Wolfsburg meets FC Barcelona on Friday (6:45 pm. live in the tape on skysport.de). The Catalans are led by Alexia Putillas. But what makes Barcelona’s “Queen” so special?
Alexia Putellas is currently considered the best female soccer player in the world. With FC Barcelona, she won one title after another. They are also considered the favorites in the Champions League season. The Spanish national team has not achieved much success so far, but the Spanish national team led by Captain Botelas are among the favorites for the first time in this year’s European Championship.
First visit to Camp Nou and first goal
Putillas was born in 1994 as the first of two daughters in a town about 20 kilometers northeast of Barcelona. At the age of six, she accompanied her father to the Camp Nou for the first time to watch the derby match against Espanyol. No one knew then that she would, 20 years later, be the one to score the first goal for a woman in a competition match at the Camp Nou. And how could it be otherwise: the opponent was RCD Espanyol.
But Boutella’s journey to the top of women’s football has not been easy. Although Spain is considered a football country, the opportunities for women and girls have always been modest. Therefore, Putillas had to leave the great club Barcelona after only one season in her youth. There was no girls’ team in her age group. Her path first led to youth in local rival Espanyol, where she made her first-team debut at the age of 16. She won the Copa Cup with the team and quickly emerged as the most promising talent in Spain.
Return to FC Barcelona and the blow of fate
In 2011 she moved to league competitor UD Levante. The 17-year-old finished her first season with Levante as the team’s top scorer with 15 goals in 34 matches. This was followed by a fateful year for emerging talent. In the summer of 2012, she returned for the big move to her heart, FC Barcelona. Her father also passed away that same summer. He was her biggest supporter and mentor in her career. A severe blow to the young footballer. Despite this, just two weeks after her father’s death, Putillas traveled to the World Cup with Spain’s Under-19 team and narrowly lost the final to Sweden.
Professional football, but at what cost?
It was a very difficult but also formative time for Catalan. In addition to finding his feet in the new team, and supporting his younger sister and mother after his father’s death, Putillas also had to complete his studies. Because especially in Spain, expectations as a women’s footballer were not entirely rosy and it was necessary to create a second source of income.
By 2021 at the latest, all of Putellas’ efforts had paid off. The Catalan led FC Barcelona to a Champions League victory over Chelsea on May 16. For the Barcelona women, this was the first CL title in the club’s history. With 4:0 they finished the English Ladies. They were finally able to present their class in front of a large audience. Right in the middle: playmaker Butillas, who scored a goal himself and set up another one worth watching.
The 2021 season was crowned after the treble with Barcelona by receiving the Ballon d’Or and the World Player of the Year award at the FIFA Player of the Year Awards. She dedicated the Golden Ball to her father with the words: “I hope you are proud of your daughter. That’s why you are too, Dad.” In tribute to her father, she still sometimes points to the sky when celebrating a goal. As was the case recently with her goal in the second leg against Real Madrid in front of a world record crowd at the Camp Nou.
Leadership in Barcelona’s structure
Botelas is the heart of the Barcelona team. She started her career on the wing, and now she leads the Barcelona match from the midfield. She joins the attack, she is very dangerous even with her feet and also helps in defense. In the current season, the 28-year-old has scored 29 goals and made 18 goals in 35 competitive matches.
Their playing style has been compared to that of Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta. Above all else, their technical skills, their passing accuracy, their dribbling as well as their leadership skills stand out time and time again. Putillas leads by example. When she was 23 years old, she was already appointed as the captain of the team. Because even off the field she looks like Iniesta. She is a very calm and down to earth person. Despite her outstanding performance, she does not like to be the center of attention and therefore always prefers to emphasize the team’s teamwork.
A big gesture for a longtime companion
She wears the number 14 shirt in the Spanish national team, but for a special reason. It was previously worn by her old friend Virginia Torricella. After she had to put her career on hold due to a brain tumor, Putilas grabbed the shirt. The pair had been playing together for Spain since they were young and Botellas didn’t want to pass the number on to another player just like that. So, until Torrecilla returns, hopefully, in the national team in the future, he will wear the Botillas 14.
La Reina: The Queen of Spanish Football
Meanwhile, the world footballer is no longer known by her full name or, as is customary in Spain, by her first name Alexia, but by her pseudonym “La Reina”. In German: the queen. This nickname is not only used by fans and teammates, but has also become very popular for the 28-year-old in the Spanish media.
Inspiring new generations
It is especially important for a world footballer to inspire young girls in her country, get them excited about football and show that women in football country Spain can impress men just as much as men. But she didn’t do it only in Spain: women’s football fans all over the world celebrated her.
Alexia Putilas: fetish, inspiration, pioneer.
More about author Elaine Docker
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