Vicky López: from her signing on the beach of Benidorm to making her senior debut at 17 years old | Soccer | Sports

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“Do you play for Rayo Vallecano?” that nine-year-old girl who was spending the summer on the beach in Benidorm innocently asked Alba Mellado, then a Madrid CFF soccer player. “Are you Vicky López?” she answered. Vicky was surprised: she didn't know who Mellado was, nor that she had tried to sign her on two occasions months ago without success. But the soccer player did remember perfectly that tan complexion and physical complexity – petite, but athletic – when she saw her running through the sand. She didn't need to have a ball between her legs. “I think it's Vicky López,” she said, lying in the hammock, to her teammate Paola Ulloa. “There will be no beaches, days and months of summer to coincide with it,” answered the other soccer player.

They both knew of Vicky's talent: they wanted her on the team they were forming. That day Mellado came down on purpose wearing the Rayo shirt with the intention of making the girl notice her. It worked. And it also worked out that Mellado bought an inflatable boat to play with the girl, her cousins ​​and her brothers in those last days of vacation. When it was all over, Vicky's father called Mellado: the girl became part of the Madrid CFF youth team. “It was destiny. Or a coincidence,” Mellado proudly recalls.

Now, eight years later, that young woman from Madrid has broken all precocity records with FC Barcelona. And also with the selection. Last Friday she was the youngest player to debut for Spain, in the Nations League semi-final against the Netherlands: 17 years, 6 months and 27 days. She thus went directly from the under-17 team – with which she is world champion – to the absolute team. And not by chance.

He found out about his call while studying for a history exam he had in the afternoon. She talked to her father, a couple of other people, and she remained focused—surprisingly—on her exam, which went “pretty well.” Victoria López-Serrano Félix (Madrid, 17) started by copying her brother who played soccer. Between boys' indoor soccer teams at her school and neighborhood clubs in Vallecas, Vicky was close to playing for Rayo Vallecano. Until she met Mellado and Ulloa. “He stood out far above the rest. What surprised us most was her speed: few children beat her,” confesses Mellado, who was her coach from the age of nine to 14. She was always used to playing—without fear—with older boys and girls, and at 15 she She became the youngest player to debut in the first division with Madrid CFF.

That little Vicky has grown, but she hasn't changed that much. Introverted at first, but with mischief, when she gains confidence she is fun, close and social. She has a Nigerian mother and a Spanish father – this is how she reflects it on her Instagram with both flags – some of her nicknamed her the lioness. Now it's just Vicky. Hers She lost her mother, Joy Félix, at the age of 11 to a brain tumor, and her father took it upon herself to take her everywhere and always trust her. And from Joy she inherited her willpower. “She has not needed support because she has had the courage to move forward with strength. When no one had energy on the team, she came out. She is to admire. When she grows a little more and she is aware of what she carries inside her, she will be at another level,” Mellado confesses.

A year after his debut, in 2022, FC Barcelona made his signing official. Since then he has lived in La Masia, and although he misses his house, little by little he has settled in with his Barça B teammates. With the number 30 with whom Messi debuted, within the first team locker room he has an “older sister,” he confesses. “For me she is like my little sister. He is working extremely well, and he deserves it very much,” explained Salma Paralluelo. She was the youngest to debut as a Barça player in the Champions League and at the Camp Nou (16 years and 148 days), and also the youngest footballer to score a goal in a classic (17 years and 116 days), ahead of Ansu Fati in both brands. On the field, Vicky doesn't mind shooting or touching the ball, and she feels free to alternate positions. This season she has played 22 games with the first team, four goals and three assists.

“Her training and her ability, in addition to what she is doing at her club this season, has made us take the step of having her. “She earned her way onto the field today,” said Montse Tomé after the match against the Netherlands. Vicky came in for Jennifer Hermoso to have the ball, and stay calm. “I'm happy, I was able to make my debut in a very nice context. At first, when they called me to warm up, she was super nervous. So much so that my stomach hurt. But when I came in, I left my nerves in the band and I enjoyed it,” the young woman confessed. In 18 minutes she added one shot on goal, she only lost possession three times in 21 actions and she was the one with the most success in passing with 89%. She received the ovation from La Cartuja, and the manteo from her colleagues. “I am a little embarrassed about these things, but I thank each one of them who have helped and welcomed me,” said the Madrid native.

Vicky López, covered by her teammates after the match between Spain and the NetherlandsMARCELO DEL POZO (REUTERS)

Vicky couldn't stop thanking him. Mellado sent him a message from her when he learned of her call, and the young woman thanked him for what he had done for her. “She is a star,” shares Mellado, who sees her as having the strength to be a future captain despite her shyness. Perhaps that is her destiny, but it is clear that it will not be by chance.

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