The celebration of a world title in the new generations, those of the (almost) twenty-somethings, is sung to the rhythm of Gambino: “I sense that you are hot, I do not give you a problem, bring a fire extinguisher, that the Gambino will burn. I’m going little by little…”, and the palms of the hands hitting the top of the bus, so that the rhythm never slows down. Salma Paralluelo and Ana Tajada are two of those leading the party on the bus back to the Spanish team’s hotel in Costa Rica after the victory against Japan (3-1) that gave Spain the U-20 World Cup title. They are also the only two soccer players who in 2018, back in December, were proclaimed champions of the under-17 world, with the team led by Toña Is. The golden generation that was crowned in that world cup and whose triumph was pointed even higher: it was the sign that the Spanish women’s football academy was doing things very well, triumphing in the European Championships and making its way to world events.
The growth has been unstoppable. And this is how Salma Paralluelo defines it, 18 years old, a promising future then as now. “I’m flipping, flip-pan-do. This is incredible. We deserve it because we have worked a lot. We have made things perfect. It is a dream for all. These things come if you believe in them.”
Paralluelo is perhaps the perfect example. Soccer player, athlete, for years there was a debate —at these ages it is not necessary to decide or make decisions— between the side of the soccer field and athletics. She is as good on the track as she is on the grass. If you believe, you get it. And she had victories and medals in both sports. Until a damn cruciate ligament rupture in April of last year took her away from the tracks for a while. A couple of months before the U-20 World Cup that she just won in Costa Rica, she was going to play in the European Championship with Jorge Vilda’s senior team. She was called up without even debuting with the majors. She left the concentration before flying to the United Kingdom due to a muscular problem.
In the world tournament she has been chosen as the best player in the final; she was also in the semifinal. Matter of believing and working hard. The seed of the new generations is planted.
Four years have passed since the triumph in that U-17 World Cup. Then as now there was talk of how long it would take the absolute to achieve a title. How long it would take for the new generations to impregnate the old. How long it would take for that to happen.
Vero Boquete, a former international with Spain, a pioneer at just 35 years old, a world soccer player and a benchmark, sums it up: “This is the best moment in Spanish women’s football. the absolute european [en Reino Unido este pasado mes de julio] it ended before time, but in recent years the lower categories continue to add successes. They were world champions under-17 in Uruguay , have been European champions again this year with the sub-19. They get into practically all or almost all the finals of lower categories, and that makes the future very promising because it is understood that each time these new generations are going to reach the absolute category. And they arrive not only with quality and talent, but also with the experience of winning and with the respect earned at an international level”.
Pedro López, U-20 coach who has triumphed in the Costa Rican tournament, speaks precisely of that chip change, of that winning gene that is cultivated based on triumphs and experience: “Reality has surpassed what we had long dreamed of. I had never seen a first half like the one we had in the final against Japan. It has caught my attention how they came today [por el domingo] the players on the field. Convinced that they were going to be world champions”, he says. That conviction, far from appearing arrogant, is what distinguishes a winning team from one that aspires to do well.
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