Sunday 02 December 2018, 04:04

Spain’s 'veterans' enjoy moment of redemption

  • Spain celebrate first-ever U-17 Women's World Cup title

  • For three of the players, the victory was particularly sweet

  • “This one’s for all the girls, especially the U-20 crew!”

Spain had just won the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018 on Saturday and their players were celebrating joyfully. For three of them, the victory was particularly sweet. Eva Navarro’s t-shirt summed it up: “This one’s for all the girls, especially the U-20 crew!”

The story behind the dedication? Barely three months ago, Navarro, Catalina Coll and Claudia Pina, the three co-captains of the newly crowned U-17 champions, were experiencing very different feelings, having just lost the final of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018 to Japan.

“It’s not really a case of getting revenge; it's more like football has given us a form of redemption,” Pina, still wearing her No10 jersey and proudly cradling her Player of the Match award, told

Claudia Pina of Spain poses with adidas Golden Ball Award

Pina, who also claimed the tournament's adidas Golden Ball accolade, continued: “Today, in the second half, the Mexicans really made us suffer, and the first thing that springs to mind in those situations is times when you’ve struggled in the past. This time we had to secure the win, and that’s what we did.”

As far as Coll was concerned, however, it was in the build-up to the match that painful memories came flooding back. “Beforehand, I was hit by that fear of losing a final several times; it’s very hard to see a world title slip through your fingers,” said the adidas Golden Glove award winner. “But I had great confidence in this group of girls.”

Navarro echoed those sentiments. “I had the same concern as Catalina – I was worried that what occurred in the U-20 final might happen again,” admitted the all-action forward. “The good thing is we were able to handle the pressure of playing strong opponents like Mexico and to eventually come out on top.

“It’s also helped me to properly put Jordan 2016 – when we had a great team, but lost in the semi-finals to Japan – behind me. It was a difficult experience, and that’s why this win has been so enjoyable.”

Catalina Coll of Spain poses with adidas Golden Glove Trophy

On their awards

“From a personal point of view, I’m very happy. As the tournament drew to a close, I presumed that I might have a chance of finishing as top goalscorer, but didn't think I was in the running for Player of the Tournament. That exceeded my expectations.” Claudia Pina, adidas Golden Ball winner and second-top goalscorer at Uruguay 2018

“It’s a source of pride, and a recognition of all the work that goes into getting an award like this. It may be an individual award, but it’s also the result of great team-work. It’s for my team-mates, and for all the people who’ve supported me.” Catalina Coll, adidas Golden Glove award winner at Uruguay 2018

Did you know?

  • With a total of nine goals (two at Jordan 2016 and seven at Uruguay 2018), Pina is now the second-top goalscorer in U-17 Women’s World Cup history. Only Venezuela’s Deyna Castellanos (11 goals) has scored more

  • Navarro boasted the most assists (three) in the tournament

  • Coll conceded just three goals in six matches (an average of just 0.50 per game)

The “veterans” according to their coach

“We have a custom of naming three captains: Catalina, Eva and Claudia. They decide who wears the armband in each game. With their experience, they help the team to keep their heads up, they make it stronger, and they ensure we don’t veer from the path to success.” Tona Is, Spain U-17 coach and assistant coach of the U-20 team that lost in the final of France 2018