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Strong Is... Atlético's Virginia Torrecilla on her battle against adversity

Atlético Madrid's Virginia Torrecilla explains how she came back to football following brain tumour treatment and a car accident that left her mother paralysed from the waist down.

Atlético Madrid's Virginia Torrecilla
Atlético Madrid's Virginia Torrecilla

UEFA’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign has released a new documentary as part of its women’s football series 'Strong Is...' which follows the journeys of some of the biggest names in women's football and the adversities the players have faced in the hope of inspiring girls and women to keep playing.

The newest episode features Atlético Madrid and Spain midfielder Virginia Torrecilla, who discusses the huge challenges she has had to overcome on and off the pitch in her journey as a professional player, and how football played a key role in making her who she is today.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Torrecilla began suffering severe headaches and eventually had a hospital consultation to try to find the cause. She was quickly diagnosed with a tumour, which was initially classified as benign before doctors discovered it was in fact cancerous.

After successful surgery and a draining recovery process, the 28-year-old returned to training in March 2021 but was faced with another immense challenge just a few months later after she was involved in a car accident which left her mother paralysed from the waist down.

Barcelona players celebrate Virginia Torrecilla's triumph over adversity after the 2021 Supercopa final
Barcelona players celebrate Virginia Torrecilla's triumph over adversity after the 2021 Supercopa finalGetty Images

Despite these blows, Torrecilla returned to the pitch this January, coming off the bench in the 85th minute of the Supercopa game against Barcelona. She was met with a standing ovation from fans on both sides, and despite the defeat to Barça was hailed by both teams at the end of the game.

The 'Strong Is...' series has gained more than 3.6m views on YouTube and has featured stars such as Chelsea and England forward Fran Kirby, Wolfsburg and Sweden defender Nilla Fischer, Lyon and Netherlands winger Shanice van de Sanden, Barcelona and Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala and refereeing pioneer Jawahir Roble.

All have spoken openly about their experiences with personal tragedy, mental health, sexuality, self-confidence, family adversity and personal hardship to inspire and encourage young girls not to give up on their dreams.

UEFA’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign aims to be the number one digital platform for girls and women who play football, producing entertaining, inspiring and educational content that brings together a community of young players and fans united by their love of the sport. By raising the profile of the women’s game, increasing visibility, engagement and investment and driving participation at grassroots level, UEFA hopes to attract more girls to play, and to continue playing football.