BARCA'S ALEXIA PUTELLAS WINS WOMEN'S BALLON D'OR 2021
Alexia is Barcelona's hope of winning three titles in 2021.
Barcelona women's team captain Alexia Putellas joined Lionel Messi to win the Ballon d'Or on Monday evening Central European Time. She is the first female Barca player to receive the prestigious award and the first Catalan woman.
Putellas' performance this year brought home three trophies for the Catalan club, which earned her 186 points, far ahead of her closest rivals, her fellow teammate Jennifer Hermoso and Chelsea's Sam Kerr.
The 27-year-old player became the top scorer for the 2020-2021 season with 26 goals. She is the third woman to win the honor after Norwegian striker Ada Hegerberg (2018) and U.S. striker Megan Rapinoe (2019).
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"I'm very emotional; it's an extraordinary moment. I want to start by thanking all my teammates, especially my current teammates. For me, this is a collective success," said Putellas.
Putellas was born in Mollet del Valles, Catalonia, on February 4, 1994. As a child, Putellas was often invited by his father, Jaume Putellas, to Camp Nou to watch Barcelona play, which piqued her interest in football. She started her junior career at CE Sabadell.
Putellas briefly moved to Barcelona and then Espanyol as a teenager.
She made her senior debut at Espanyol at the age of 16. She was included in the Espanyol squad that won the 2010 Copa de la Reina — women's counterpart to the Copa del Rey.
A season later, Putellas played in the final of the Copa de la Reina, this time against Barcelona. However, Espanyol lost 0-1 in the 2011 final.
Nonetheless, Putellas' form was impressive, and she was able to etch her name as one of Spain's finest footballing talents. She then moved to Levante before moving to Barcelona in 2012.
Putellas also became a mainstay of Barcelona. She was entrusted with the position of vice-captain in 2019 before becoming the main captain in 2021.
On the field, Putellas usually occupies the attacking midfielder post. Her expertise as a creator of attacks helped Barcelona win the Premier Division trophy (equivalent to La Liga), the Women's Champions League, and the Copa de la Reina.
Together with Putellas, Barcelona performed impressively throughout 2020/21. They are league champions with 33 wins out of 34 matches and an impressive 152 goal difference.
In the Champions League final, Barcelona also bulldozed Chelsea 4-0. Putellas scored one goal through the penalty spot in this match.
This title also complements the previously won Spanish League 2020-2021 title. The accomplishment became even more special as Barcelona became the first club to win the Champions League in the men's and women's categories.
"She (Putellas) played as an attacking midfielder phenomenally. She is crucial for Barcelona, and she can score goals or set passes," said former England international Karen Carney.
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Before winning the Ballon d'Or, Putellas had won various individual awards. Among them are UEFA's best players, IFFHS's best players, and Champions League midfielders.
At the national team level, Putellas defended Spain in every age group. She made her debut in the senior team during a test match against Denmark.
Her official debut in the Spanish national team came against England. She scored her first goal in the match, which played a big part in La Furia Roja's 3-2 win over the Three Lions.
Off the field, Putellas studied Business Administration and Management at Pompeu Fabra University, which she hasn't completed as she decided to quit and focus on football.
Her victory is an achievement in itself for Barcelona. It technically becomes the first club whose players won both men's and women's Ballon d'Or, as even though Messi currently plays for Paris Saint Germain, his achievement in getting the trophy is assessed when he was still a Barca player.
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