Alexia Putellas’ inner journey to Ballon d’Or | sports

On March 5, 2017, Alexia Putellas Segura (Mollet del Vallès, Barcelona; 28 years old) wrote a phrase from legendary mountaineer and explorer Edmund Hillary on Twitter: “It’s not the mountain we conquer, it’s ourselves.”

The first mountain Putellas climbed was in Mollet del Vallès, a medium-sized city on the outskirts of Barcelona, ​​in a square in front of the Town Hall, where children mainly gather to play football. She sent one: she was the only girl who played at the Plaza de Mollet in the late nineties. And at school recess. “Sometimes other girls get involved but not much”, he told this to Vicente del Bosque in a talk at EL PAÍS a year ago. “I noticed an absolute normality, as with children. And that’s nice because many of the kids I started with in the plaza when I was three are still friends today. I made the sets directly. As a child, I was already a bit bossy.” “One day when I went to meet him and his mother to sign for Barça,” says his former trainer, Xavi Llorens, “we met at a bar next to the house. They showed me a field and said: Here is the field. “If you have a football field in front of your house and that’s all you see when you come out of the portal, you have a lot of animals,” he said.

Daughter of Jaume Putellas and Elisabet Segura (“Mami estàs bé? T’estimo”, wrote to her mother The day after winning the Ballon d’Or, as reported by La Vanguardia. “Estic molt. Good afternoon, t’estimo”) and Alba’s older sister Alexia, a culé fanatic, died at the age of 50 when her father suddenly passed away at the age of 18. While he was collecting his first Ballon d’ in Paris, his life and career are incomprehensible without this news (“Her I hope you’re very proud of your daughter: wherever you are, that’s for you daddy.” Or). ​​There is reason to believe. Jaume Putellas, who works at the Honda factory, not only saw his daughter become an icon of world football, but saw him play professionally. and died at the club of his dreams without winning. Barcelona. The girl started playing for Sabadell, went to the lower categories of Barça, and a restructuring there forced her to leave. It is narrated by Xavi Llorens, a key figure of the Catalan club: the first coach of Leo Messi and Alexia Putellas, 11 seasons at the head of women’s Barcelona, ​​full of titles and today the coach of Catalonia.

Llorens called Alexia’s father, Jaume, to tell him the bad news in 2006: the club had to cut teams of certain ages to four, the youngest would be girls born in 1992, and Alexia was left out because she was born in 1994. . Llorens remembers the conversation.

“There’s no team for him. It’s best to look for someone else to come back to in the future when you’re your age.

“Is there a chance to just practice?” James replied.

“I told him the truth: it would be okay. However, it hurts him that due to previous experience, the girl can only come to training and not play. The girl needs to play. He needed to find a team and come back whenever possible,” Llorens says over the phone.

In the 2010/2011 season, he went to Espanyol, where he was promoted to the first team, at the age of 16. The following year he played for Levante, the first year of his life alone. And she was there one day in May when she received a call that her father was in the hospital (the cause of death has always been kept secret from the family). Those who knew him were the biggest support of his life, the person he trusted the most and trusted him the most. He returned to Barcelona with his family; He returned to Barça and began climbing the last mountain without his father: the one who would allow himself to be conquered.

“It reminds me a bit of Leo,” Llorens says. “He is very shy and speaks little, but when he does, he hammers nails. He is concise, likes to control everything. Look a lot, observe a lot. And he speaks little. But when he speaks, he speaks very clearly. Leo’s little intervention was with his trusted friends in the group, and Alexia has always been like that. Now he knows what it is: a reference for all his colleagues. But she likes to observe, look and stay in the details. He doesn’t like being a hero, and he’s not always talkative. Lluís Cortés, his coach last season, says he knows how to be a determined leader on the team and on the field. “He helps others play. Healing his teammates. The team is a leader in training, performance, team management. And as a coach, I had a lot of confidence in that leadership.” Although sources from the player’s environment confirm this, he avoids championship lawsuits. It militates them (feminism, LGTBI rights) and actually participated in the 2019 Madrid Pride with friend and teammate Jennifer Hermoso (Blanca Suárez and Mario Casas were in the air, among others), but she doesn’t like to be visible at the head of anything unrelated to football. Recently, in an unprecedented gesture, he refused the Mollet del Vallès football field, which bears his name, as the mayor offered. The legends of Catalan football are still referred to as Hermanos Gonzalvo.

She’s not a very extroverted girl, nor is she someone who “organizes her group’s parties to understand us”, but those who have known her for years. She is shy and has trouble expressing her feelings. He can also be very cold, and this coldness on the field, where his passion lies, helps him become a much better football player, calm his nerves, and control the game in limited moments. His game evolves until he completely explodes three years ago when Lluís Cortés becomes a full-on football player. Xavi Llorens explains, “The leap to stardom happens when you gain experience and when you learn to control the full pace of a game: when you have to play fast, when you have to play slow. On top of that, he has some physical and technical virtues that finish him off and make a difference.”

He moves like a shark on the field: he senses blood from afar, knows when to inflict damage and when to inflict damage, and leads the team from the left inside with a terrific left foot. He opened up more to the group before, but speed isn’t his main virtue (“I know I can’t win a 60m race,” he said at EL PAÍS). In recent years, he has healed his emptiness and cultivated his virtues. It is a reference for Barcelona and the Spanish team to make the final passes in the attack area, meet between the lines, shape oneself to help the team especially in the progress zone. And when the team gets bogged down in construction, the game goes down to get more at the 6 position or near the center to be able to generate it. Coach Lluís Cortés, with whom he had treble wins last season (League, Cup and Champions League), said plenty of “And he”, “a great finisher. He didn’t have many goals before: now he’s a striker. He is a midfielder who creates games with so many assists and so many goals: the best in the world”.

Putellas once confessed to Llorens when he spoke to Llorens about the need to have alternatives (studies, education) if an established sport as little as women’s football at the time did not guarantee him a present and a future: “I” will now dedicate 100% to football: Where I want to know where I’m going”. “What did he do?” asks Llorens. Dedicate yourself 100% to football. And thanks to football, who he is and what he has won (16 titles in nine years with Barcelona and the national team), he has another economic life with the representation of many companies”.

Putellas is a very strong brand. It is the best of an exuberant sport with first-level political symbolism: It’s about telling girls around the world that the most popular sport on the planet isn’t just about boys; that you can be a pro, fill the Camp Nou like men. Although the differences are still vast.

“Abyssal,” explains Lluís Cortés, “between men’s football and women’s football, and within women’s football.” An information from the economy newspaper Expansion A few days ago, he calculated that the salary of the female Ballon d’Or was 100 times less than the salary of the male Ballon d’Or Karim Benzema. And he estimated Putellas’ 18 million salary for Barça’s male star Robert Lewandowski at a gross of 150,000 euros per year. Other sources put the salary of a superstar like Putellas around 300,000 or 350,000 euros gross. In any case, the difference is great. “Currently, we have minimum wage players in the Spanish League. It’s 16,000 Euros for a full day, but some football players are registered part-time and make a gross of 12,000 per year. Now, it seems that the collective agreement to raise the minimum wage will be renegotiated. But it’s not just that anymore: travel conditions, stadium conditions. You watch Premier League games on pitches that are not set up for what such a competition should look like”.

Xavi player, midfielder, and number 11 as a child like her idol Rivaldo, Alexia Putellas ushered in a period when girls no longer wanted to be like boys when they grew up. others like him. The highest mountain and the greatest conquest.

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