She's won all the club and individual prizes there are to win, not least a Women's World Cup. We salute Alexia Putellas.
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Alexia Putellas was the first player to win the UEFA Women's Player of the Year award and Ballon d'Or Féminin twice in a row, and she is now a world champion with Spain.
A lifelong Barcelona fan, in May 2021 Putellas became the first player from her club to lift the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy. And those exploits helped her claim an unprecedented treble of individual honours: UEFA Women's Player of the Year, FIFA Women's Best Player and the Ballon d'Or Féminin.
Barcelona might have lost their European title the following season, but dynamic midfielder Putellas ended as the 11-goal UEFA Women's Champions League top scorer, likewise being named Player of the Tournament. Also in 2022, she became the first Spain women's footballer to reach 100 caps, though the cruciate-ligament injury that ruled her out of UEFA Women's EURO 2022 was a huge blow to her country, as it was to Barcelona for most of 2022/23.
However, Putellas was still named UEFA Women's Player of the Year once again, matching Pernille Harder's tally of two – but the first player to do so consecutively. She then became the first two-time winner of the Ballon d'Or Féminin and also retained the FIFA prize. And when she returned for injury, she won another Champions League crown with Barcelona and the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup for Spain.
Whether playmaking, attacking down the left, producing outrageous skills or even popping up as a false nine, she remains one of world football's foremost talents. We salute her success so far.
What they say
"Alexia is a role model for Barça. She displays what a club wants to display."
"I've known Alexia since she was little, when she started coming to the U16s, and I know she still has room for improvement. She’s young and, best of all, is passionate about football and understands it very well, which is not something every player has. She has so much quality, sees things before others and executes everything with pace and style."
Jorge Vilda, Spain coach
"I've always been a big fan of Alexia. I think she's an amazing player, an amazing midfielder controlling the game."
Pernille Harder, the only other multiple UEFA Women's Player of the Year and opponent in the 2021 UEFA Women's Champions League final
Claims to fame
• Putellas spent a year in Barcelona's youth academy aged ten but was to come through the ranks at Espanyol, making her debut at 16 in 2010 and playing in the following year's Copa de la Reina final against the Blaugrana.
• She spent 2011/12 at Levante, scoring 15 goals, and then moved to Barcelona, who had just won their first Spanish title.
• Putellas, still only 18 when she moved to Barcelona, was soon a regular and played in her club's debut UEFA Women's Champions League game, a 3-0 loss to Arsenal on 26 September 2012.
• Ended her first Barcelona season with victory in a memorable title decider against Athletic Club played in front of 25,000 fans at San Mamés, and scored a superb solo goal in the Copa de la Reina final win against Zaragoza to capture headlines nationwide.
• Putellas has remained central to Barcelona's play ever since, as they have developed from a Spanish power finding their way in Europe to continental champions. Further league titles arrived in 2013/14, 2014/15, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/22 and 2022/23 as well as six more Copa triumphs.
• Named among the captain's group at the club in 2018, though by 2019/20 she became the regular armband-wearer, with Vicky Losada injured and then often not among the starters.
• In 2018/19, she was Barcelona's top scorer with 18 goals and named in the UEFA Women's Champions League Squad of the Season as the club reached their first final, losing 4-1 in Budapest to Lyon.
• On 7 September 2019, Putellas scored the first goal at the new Estadi Johan Cruyff in a 5-1 win against Tacón (the future Real Madrid). That season, she passed 300 club appearances and was voted the Spanish league's player of the year.
• Putellas made more history on 6 January 2021 when she became the first woman to score a competitive goal at the Camp Nou in a league game against her former club Espanyol.
• That was just one moment in a spectacular season for Barcelona and Putellas. She was to lift the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy in Gothenburg as Barcelona beat Chelsea 4-0 in the final, Putellas scoring the second goal from the penalty spot and making the third despite having been an injury doubt.
• Barcelona also did the domestic double and Putellas ended the season with 26 goals, including two in the Copa de la Reina final against another former side, Levante. She was named final MVP for the third time in her career.
• Putellas's awards for 2020/21 included a place in the UEFA Women's Champions League Squad of the Season, being named UEFA Women's Champions League Midfielder of the Season and becoming the first player from Spain to be honoured as UEFA Women's Player of the Year, FIFA Best Women's Player and Ballon d'Or Féminin winner (a treble never before achieved).
• Barcelona merely won a domestic double (and the Spanish Super Cup) in 2021/22, losing the UEFA Women's Champions League final to Lyon. But Putellas, who struck in that Turin final, enjoyed her most prolific season yet in front of goal with 34 strikes in all competitive games, including a UEFA Women's Champions League-leading 11. Those feats in Europe helped her snare the Player of the Tournament award.
• She was named UEFA Women's Player of the Year again for 2021/22, as well as winning another Ballon d'Or Féminin and FIFA Best award. However, a cruciate-ligament injury on the eve of UEFA Women's EURO 2022 meant she sat out most of the following campaign.
• Despite her absence, Barcelona still reached another UEFA Women's Champions League final, and she made her comeback on the very day the club clinched their latest Spanish title. Putellas then returned to the goals in the last game of the domestic season.
• To a huge roar from the Barcelona fans, Putellas was a late substitute in the 3-2 final defeat of Wolfsburg in Eindhoven and lifted the trophy.
• At the start of 2023/24 became only the second woman to make 400 appearances for Barcelona after Melanie Serrano.
• Then on 16 October, she overtook Jenni Hermoso as Barcelona's all-time leading scorer, getting her 182th goal for the club in a 1-0 win at Atlético.
• The following month scored twice in the first half of Barcelona's opening Champions League group game with Slavia Praha to get back in the European goals.
• First capped at youth level aged 15, Putellas was part of the Spain sides that won the UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship titles in 2010 and 2011, also helping her nation claim 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup bronze.
• Putellas captained Spain to the 2012 UEFA European Women's U19 Championship final, where they lost in extra time to Sweden.
• Her youth performances earned Putellas a first senior cap against Denmark in June 2013. The following day she was named in the UEFA Women's EURO 2013 squad and, coming off the bench, the 19-year-old forced Spain's winner in the dramatic opening 3-2 defeat of England.
• Putellas went to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and, now under her former youth coach Jorge Vilda, was a UEFA Women's EURO 2017 quarter-finalist and reached the 2019 World Cup last 16, narrowly losing to the United States.
• Putellas was named player of the tournament in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup, where Spain faced Japan, England (against whom she scored a late winner) and the US.
• Was named one of Spain's three captains in 2021 as they qualified for UEFA Women's EURO 2022. In October of that year, she overtook Marta Torrejón's Spain record of 90 caps.
• Reached 100 caps on 1 July 2022 against Italy, scoring the equaliser with a header in a 1-1 draw in Castel di Sangro. However, days later a training injury ruled her out of UEFA Women's EURO 2022.
• Recovered in time for the 2023 World Cup and scored on her comeback match, a 7-0 friendly win against Panama just before the finals.
• Putellas then played in every game of Spain's run to victory in Australia and New Zealand as they clinched their maiden senior title.
What you might not know
• After scoring against Espanyol at the Camp Nou in January 2021, she told Barcelona's website that the first game she'd ever seen at the stadium was a men's match versus the same city rivals when she was six. Her family would regularly travel to home games with the supporters' club from her home town Mollet del Vallès, around 20 km from Barcelona.
• In September 2020, Putellas changed her Spain squad number from 11 to 14, usually worn by her friend and team-mate since youth days Virginia Torrecilla, who had been diagnosed with a brain tumour. Putellas explained that she would keep the number until Torrecilla was able to return, revealing to FIFA.com that she had told her: "Come on, I'll look after it until you recover – that way, you'll have to come back as soon as possible!" Torrecilla returned to the pitch with Atlético de Madrid in January 2022.
• Joined her first club, Sabadell, aged seven – playing alongside future Barcelona and Spain team-mates Vicky Losada and Marta Corredera.
What she says
"My family has always been for Barça. My uncle has the badge tattooed, my grandfather has been a member of the Penya Blaugrana de Mollet all his life. There is practically no one who supports another team. I only have one cousin who is for Real Madrid."
"I was lucky that my family accepted everything I wanted to do. I remember a very beautiful childhood. I was playing football all day and I was having a good time."
On the winner against England in 2013... "Not even in my dreams [did I imagine such a feat]. A first senior UEFA Women's EURO appearance, after Spain had waited 16 years to compete at the finals, coming on with 20 minutes to go and scoring the third goal – I have no words to describe how that felt."
On her historic Camp Nou goal... "Just seeing the ball go in was thrilling. I felt so proud, especially for my family. After the celebrations, and as we went back to our positions, I was alone for a moment and that's when it hit home that I had scored my first goal at the Camp Nou. But, after ten seconds, I had to focus on playing again."
On the 2021 final win against Chelsea... "We have sent a message. Barcelona and Spanish players are among the best in the world, and we have proven it."
On reaching the top... "It is a very selfish profession. You do everything to perform better: you eat well, rest a lot, try not to do things that could injure you. You put all your focus on that."
On winning her second UEFA Player of the Year award... "The most special moment was without doubt playing the two games at the Camp Nou. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my club. I was able to fulfil a dream that all Culé's have, which is to play at a sold-out Camp Nou."
What she might achieve yet
• Barcelona have now won everything, but the challenge is to keeping doing it in the increasingly competitive world of women's football. Lyon showed them how hard that is in 2022.
• Putellas will be keen to help Spain add to their 2023 World Cup triumph.