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How brilliant is Spain and Barcelona's Alexia Putellas?

She's won all the club and individual prizes there are to win.

Alexia Putellas celebrates after scoring on her 100th appearance for Spain
Alexia Putellas celebrates after scoring on her 100th appearance for Spain Getty Images

The year 2021 was one where Alexia Putellas was established as truly part of the world elite and she has showed no signs of slowing in 2022.

A lifelong Barcelona fan, that May she became the first player from her club to lift the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy. And those exploits helped Alexia win an unprecedented treble of individual honours: UEFA Women's Player of the Year, FIFA Women's Best Player and the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

Barcelona might have lost their European title the following season but dynamic midfielder Alexia ended up the 11-goal UEFA Women's Champions League Top Scorer. She also in 2022 became the first Spain women's footballer to 100 caps. Whether playmaking, attacking down the left, producing outrageous skills or even popping up as a false nine; we salute her success so far.

What they say

"Alexia is a role model for Barça. She displays what a club wants to display."
Andrés Iniesta

"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, Putellas's predecessor as UEFA Women's Player of the Year and opponent in the 2021 UEFA Women's Champions League final.

Claims to fame

Espanyol, Levante
• Alexia 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.

Barcelona
• Alexia, 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.

Alexia Putellas kisses the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy in Gothenburg
Alexia Putellas kisses the UEFA Women's Champions League trophy in GothenburgUEFA via Getty Images

• 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.

• Alexia 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 and 2020/21 as well as five more Copa triumphs. Her stalwart status is underlined by the fact she has played in 52 of Barcelona's 56 UEFA Women's Champions League matches all-time to date.

• Named among the captain's group at the club in 2018 and by 2019/20, with Vicky Losada injured then generally not among the starters, Putellas became the regular armband-wearer.

• 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, Alexia 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.

• Alexia made more history on 6 January 2021 when she became the first woman to score a competitive goal at Camp Nou in a league game against her former club Espanyol.

• That was just one moment in a spectacular season for Barcelona and Alexia. 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 from the penalty spot and making the third despite having been an injury doubt.

2021 final highlights: Chelsea 0-4 Barcelona

• Barcelona also did the domestic double and Alexia 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.

• Alexia'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 Feminin 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 Alexia, who struck in that Turin final and also in both the Camp Nou games earlier in that competition where Barcelona attracted 90,000+ crowds, had her most prolific season yet in front of goal with 34 in all competitive games, including a UEFA Women's Champions League-leading 11.

2021/22 Top scorer: Watch all of Alexia Putellas' goals

Spain
• 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.

 Alexia Putellas (right) with the WU17 EURO trophy in 2010
Alexia Putellas (right) with the WU17 EURO trophy in 2010SPORTSFILE

• Putellas was named player of the tournament in the 2020 SheBelieves Cup where Spain faced Japan, England (when 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.

What you might not know

• After scoring against Espanyol at 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 says she will keep the number until Torrecilla is able to return, revealing to FIFA.com that she'd said to her: "Come on, I’ll look after it until you recover – that way, you’ll have to come back as soon as possible!"

• 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."

2013: Spain stun England late

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 came 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."

What she might achieve yet

• Barcelona have now won everything but the challenge is to do it again, even if in the increasingly competitive world of women's football: Lyon showed them how hard that was in 2022.

• Spain have plenty of women's honours at youth level, including the two WU17 titles won by Putellas, but they are yet to get past a senior semi-final. The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup is her next chance.