Mariona, the footballer from the low-media team who gave two assists en route to the Nations League final | Soccer | Sports

There was a moment when he thought the Earth had swallowed me. He couldn’t take it anymore and it was difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “My heart is broken and I can’t find the words to express how I feel. “Football is not just football, it’s my life,” Mariona Caldentey (Felanitx, Mallorca; 27 years old) wrote last year on social networks, following a series of injuries (a sprained ankle combined with two fractures of the biceps femoris of both legs) denied him the ball and being happy. But that’s in the past. Because Mariona smiled and cried with happiness after winning the World Cup, because this Friday she also raised her arms and received the applause and recognition of her teammates after clearing the goal rail against the Netherlands Low – she gave two assists – in the League semi-final. of Nations, in the safe conduct obtained for the Paris Olympic Games. Nothing new for Mariona, who is still there even if she is not on the Ballon d’Or lists or The best. Even if the story was about to be different.

Mariona was one of 15 players who, at the time, after falling out during Euro 2022, ruled out continuing with the national team until things changed, until the area was professionalized and that the technical staff changes, hesitating to continue with a Jorge Vilda who understood that he did not prepare the meetings and barely gave them freedom of movement. However, it happens that the World Cup arrives and the opportunity to return, footballers convinced that nothing is the same and also attracted by playing in the biggest tournament. “Tomorrow the list will be published. We’ll see what happens. I can not say anything. But yes, I am available,” Mariona resolved before any of her teammates, the starting signal for other footballers like Aitana or Ona Batlle to return to the team. “When I decide to go to the World Cup, it’s because I believe it can be won,” he revealed a week ago in the newspaper. Ace. And they won it. But the toll he endured during that time almost drove him away from football.

The injuries, in addition to the social and media tension linked to declaring himself unselectable, took their toll. He realized that something was wrong, that he had lost that smile that had always characterized him. I didn’t eat or sleep well, somewhat overwhelmed by anxiety. “We have to find something now,” her agent, Carlota Planas, told her after a meeting they had, one of those days when sadness and frustration overwhelmed Mariona. So he decided to work with an external psychologist. “When things are going well, you don’t pay attention to how you are doing. But when you have moments when you hesitate, when you hit rock bottom, you realize the importance of being well”, admitted the midfielder in the same interview; “The subject of the selection made a big media noise. You receive a lot of criticism, you also receive support…, but it all happens to you very suddenly. I don’t know what the trigger was, the precise moment, but I didn’t feel well. I couldn’t play, I was injured. I came to wonder if I could continue. With the help of a professional, in addition to changing her eating habits – she hired nutritionist Javier Fernández Ligero, who also works with Jennifer Hermoso and Cata Coll – based on blood tests, Mariona came back and did it big.

At the beginning, it was difficult for him to find the rhythm in the World Cup, as a substitute against Costa Rica, a little against Zambia and Japan and again on the bench against Switzerland. But when the playoffs began, the best version of Mariona arrived, a footballer who is perhaps not a ten in all but an eight in all, because he always knows how to choose the best option, to play with one or two touches , use shot or pause. “Rude,” wrote award winner Hope Solo when she saw one of his dribbles. Champions -Oliver and Benji series-, when he scored against a rival who fell to the ground hitting the ball above her. “If we have problems, we know we can give her the ball and she will get through it,” says an authoritative voice from the locker room. Maybe that’s why he takes penalties too, because he doesn’t know what it’s like to shiver. “He has reached his footballing maturity because he had always had flashes, but now he maintains them over time and since the World Cup he has played everything and at a high level,” we concede to his surroundings. “She is a player with spatial intelligence, who has a high level and who is very influential in our game. In addition, he is having an excellent season with numbers to back it up. We are very happy to have him among us,” Tomé explained after the match against the Netherlands. “It’s sweet and mature.

The same thing happens at Barça, where this year there is always a joker because he can play in any position in attack – “Sometimes Vilda, (former coach) would tell us: ‘We position ourselves in natural positions .’ And I thought…: “Well, where am I?”, she said with amusement, – she is at a high level, fundamental in the Super Cup, when she scored two goals against Madrid in the semi -final, also decisive in the Champions League, well, he has scored eight consecutive seasons in the competition – it is the only one on the football planet – and this goal in midfield against Rosengard will be remembered. Passionate about piano because her grandmother María taught her when she was a child, graduated in physical activity and sports science (she plans to devote herself to teaching when she hangs up her boots) and about to reconnecting with Barcelona, ​​Mariona has won everything: five Leagues, five Cups, two Champions Leagues, a World Cup and her name engraved on the football field of her city. Now he also has a ticket to the Games. But he wants more. “I don’t think anyone can get tired of winning. We have a generation to take advantage of. Winning is in our heads,” he admits. Next Wednesday is the Nations League final against France. Mariona, just in case, shines her boots.

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