"I am more eager than ever to get back in shape and play as soon as possible."
by Alessandra Puglisi
Courtesy of Pascal Guyot via Getty Images
On May 21 of 2020, Spanish footballer Virginia Torrecilla announced through her Instagram platform that she had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. After ten grueling months, on the 24th of March 2021 Torrecilla started training again with her team, Atlético Madrid.
Born in Son Servera (Mallorca) in the Balearic Islands in 1994, Virginia Torrecilla Reyes started playing football at 11 for the local team Serverense. The first big step into her football career, however, arrived when she was only 15 and joined UD Collerense, a club based in Palma de Mallorca, making her one of the youngest players ever to debut in the Superliga Feminina.
Speaking to Youtube channel El Patio, Torrecilla said that after two years with UD Collerense she had thought about quitting football, “until one day I received a call from a football coach that lived in a nearby town, he was creating a new team and asked me to come train with them without the need to make a formal commitment.” And just like that, Torrecilla joined Sporting Ciutat de Palma, a club in the Spanish Segunda División Femenina.
After only one year at Sporting, Virginia Torrecilla transferred to FC Barcelona, leaving Mallorca and returning to professional football in the Primera División. Having only played in low-ranked teams, Torrecilla said that she was often scared not to be good enough compared to her teammates in Barcelona.
“It was already a crazy good team when I arrived, so full of talented players coming from Primera División and the National Team, and I wondered what do I do now? I left everything behind and I am not even playing here.”
Despite her worries, Torrecilla became a great asset for FC Barcelona, working hard during the first season to get to her teammates’ physical level and gaining more playing time with each game. During her three seasons with the team, Torrecilla won the Primera División three times (2013, 2014, 2015) and Copa de la Reina two times (2013, 2014) with a secured spot in the starting eleven.
In 2012 she helped the U-19 Spanish Women’s National Team to reach the final of the 2012 UEFA Women’s U-19 Championship, where Spain suffered a defeat by Sweden. The experience, however, was one of a kind for Torrecilla and it made her a valuable player for the national team.
In 2013 she was chosen by coach Ignacio Quereda to be part of the senior national team for the 2013 UEFA Women’s Euro. Sadly, Spain ended their adventure at the quarter-finals with a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Norway.
On the club front, Virginia Torrecilla left FC Barcelona after three years and went to play for Montpellier HSC in France. “Women’s football in Spain was progressing very slowly and I needed to grow as a player." she said to El Patio, "Going to France was the best decision I could’ve made for me and my career.” With Montpellier, Torrecilla was only a runner-up for both Coupe de France in 2016, and Division 1 Feminine in 2017. However, she gained a lot of experience as a player and was able to confront a different reality of women’s football.
In 2019, Virginia Torrecilla signed with Atlético Madrid and returned to her home country. She was also selected by coach Jorge Vilda to be part of the Spanish National Team for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France. Spain was one of the three teams to win Group B, reaching the round of 16 for the first time in history, but losing 2-1 to World Cup defenders USA. The game has been heavily criticized due to USA’s poor playing, with Spain on the verge of gaining the upper hand of the match until the final whistle. Despite the abrupt ending of the World Cup adventure, Torrecilla’s presence on the field made a big difference for the team at each game, and she was crowned MVP for Spain.
On May 21 of 2020, the 26-year-old announced that she was diagnosed with a brain tumor and she would soon undergo surgery and chemotherapy treatments to make a full recovery. Having always been very active on social media, she decided to share her journey with the rest of the world, inspiring many and looking forward to the moment she could embrace football again.
In March 2021, Virginia Torrecilla officially returned to train with Atlético Madrid. It is still unknown when she will be cleared to play with the team, but she has reassured her fans that she is willing to do whatever it takes to be on the field again.