By 2022, Putellas has won all major club and individual awards that a European player could win.
For which she is widely regarded as the world’s best contemporary female
footballer, and one of the greatest of all time


by Rose Maramba

The Spanish women’s football was barely five years old when Alexia Putellas Segura was born in 1994. The first season played by the women’s football clubs was in 1988-89 when the Royal Spanish Football Federation (Real Federación Española de Fútbol) created the National Women’s League (Liga Nacional Femenina). Embarrassingly sexist, the competition was described as “amateur” or “semi-professional” even though one way or the other the Spanish women’s football has been present in international women’s competitions since 1980, the year Spain stopped prohibiting women from playing football.

Luis Suarez, right, on El Gáfico cover, 4 July 1962,  lone Spanish Ballon d’Or winner till Putellas came along six decades later

The women’s football might not have had a promising start but early on Alexia wanted to be a career footballer.  And ahead of her 28th birthday (4 February), she had reached an apex of football, winning the Ballon d’Or Féminin on 29 November 2021 in Paris. She is the only Spaniard, female or male, to ever win a Ballon d’Or after Luis Suarez did way back in 1960.

Globe Soccer trophies: Putellas was the lone player who bagged two trophies in 2021

Not that that was as far as Putellas’ career went. All signs augured a yet brighter panorama of peaks and pinnacles waiting for the extraordinary football she-genius to grab. In fact, before the momentous 2021 was out, she reached another historic apex winning the Globe Soccer Awards’ Best Women’s Player of the Year at the star-studded ceremony in Dubai. At that ceremony, which “honors all the best in football” according to Globe Soccer, she not only was the lone female awardee but also the only winner of two trophies for representing FC Barcelona (“Barça”) as well, which was chosen by the Globe Soccer jury as the Best Football Club. Alexia is the captain of FC Barcelona Femení. Then and now. (Her contract with Barça which she renewed in September 2021 expires in 2024.)

Already, as a precocious youngster who wasn’t even 17 yet, Alexia had begun to stand out as one of Spain’s best young players, at the time playing with Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol (2010-2011).  With Levante UD in Valencia (2011-2012), she scored 15 goals in 34 matches, becoming the team’s top scorer of the season.

The marvelous midfielder who favors her left foot plays with FC Barcelona against Real Sociedad on 2 June 2021. That season Alexia was Europe’s highest-scoring midfielder and Best FIFA Women’s Player

Ten years later, during the 2020-2021 season with Barça Femení, Putellas scored the second Champions League final of her career. In the 20th minute of one of the games, she gave Barça its third goal which turned out to be the fifth-best goal of the competition. At the same time, she was crucial to her team’s largest margin of victory (4-0) in a single-legged UEFA Women’s Champions League (UWCL). Understandably, she was selected as UWCL Squad of the Season.

On 25 September the football icon scored one of the fastest-ever hat tricks in Barça’s history, netting a stunning three goals in four minutes.

But the season’s awards didn’t end there for Alexia. Far from it. She notched the award for UWCL Midfielder of the Season and the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year which made her the first Spanish player to be so named. She was The Best FIFA Women’s Player and the Women’s Player of 2021 by World Soccer Magazine and the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS).

Spain Women’s National Football Team. Concurrently, Alexia is a midfielder (she was Europe’s highest-scoring midfielder during the 2021-2022 season) on Spain Women’s National Football Team (Selección Española de Fútbol Femenina).  On 2 November 2021, she was named Spain women’s national team Player of the Year. She made Spanish national team history in 2022 as the first female player to make 100 appearances for the nation.

Alexia, Number 11, poses with the Spain Women’s National Team on the occasion of the international women’s friendly competition – Germany vs Spain — at Steigerwaldstadion in Erfurt, Germany, November 2018

Coinciding with the rise of Barcelona Femení, the Selección Española Femenina began to make its mark in the world of football, winning a place among the top ten of the FIFA international rankings. Spain’s national women’s team won the 2020 UEFA awards for best goalkeeper, defender, midfielder, forward and overall best player. This was a historic first, the first time players of a single country won all the categories.

Alexia’s numerous tattoos include the number 112, a combination of her first Spain shirt number which was 12, and her iconic shirt number 11.

A few years after joining Barça Femení (2016)

The catalana from Mollet de Vàlles in the outskirts of Barcelona has the support of her parents from the time she first told them at age 7 that she wanted to be a footballer like her hero Messi then of Barça. The parents were only too aware of the near-insurmountable difficulties an aspiring girl footballer had to grapple with. But instead of discouraging her, they gave their daughter their unstinting support. Her father, Jaume Putellas, was her constant companion at the football matches. And from the time she made it to the junior teams, Jaume was her biggest fan and at once her indefatigable critic, pointing out to her the shortcomings of her game, thus ensuring that her feet were planted firmly on the ground.

On 29 May 2012, when Alexia was 18 and was about to make it to Barça’s Femení, her father died. Her first Ballon d’Or she dedicated to him. At the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, she said, “I hope you’re very proud of your daughter. Wherever you are, this [ballon]is for you, papa.”

Given such amazing prowess, Alexia would achieve her second Ballon d’Or for her performance during the 2021-2022 season. Before that, on 25 August 2022, she ran away with the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year award for the second consecutive season.

A stunning record. By 2022, Putellas has won all major club and individual awards that a European player could win. For which she is widely regarded as the world’s best contemporary female footballer, and one of the greatest of all time.

France Football magazine awards Ballon d’Or which until 2018 went only to male footballers

The Ballon d’Or Féminin, aka the Women’s Ballon d’Or, is an association football award presented by France Football to honor the female player deemed to have performed the best in the last season. (For the first time in 2022, the voting was based on a player’s performances over the previous season, from August 2021 to July 2022, instead of the calendar year.) In 2022, Barça captain Alexia Putellas became the first and only player to reap back-to-back Women’s Ballon d’Ors since it was first awarded in 2018, with Ada Hegerberg of Norway as the inaugural awardee.

Speaking of France Football: first published in 1946 and headquartered in Paris, France Football is a French weekly magazine containing football news around the world. It is considered one of the most reputable sports publications in Europe. For more than six decades it has presented the Ballon d’Or, football’s most prestigious award,  to the best football player (just men at the beginning) of the year/season.

Putellas portrayed by Italian neo-pop artist TVBoy as Superwoman, in Barcelona, 2022, with “Follow Your Dream” slogan on a feminist lilac background. The street art was vandalized with lesbophobic and misogynistic slurs but was restored by TVBoy in February 2023.

Beyond the football field. A natural crowd drawer, the world’s star player doesn’t shine only on the football field. Equipped with a social conscience, Alexia uses her privileged position in football to empower women, to inspire young girls to go for their dreams.  In an interview with Becky Anderson of CNN, aired in January 2022, she said: “I believe that football is one way of managing to end many historical inequalities of women, or how we see women. [Not so long ago] I only saw men playing football and being professional … As a spokesperson, we can give the voice to women who want [to play] and can’t because no one is making structures or teams.”

As ambassador for various popular brands (Mango, Nike, Visa. . .), Alexia sees to it that the deals would serve as a vehicle for equality.

Putellas is wont to show support for gender equality

Her concern for business “underdogs” is manifest. She told her large following on Instagram on 17 December 2021 that “lo que para ti es importante, para ellos es todo. Yo estas Navidades apoyo al pequeño comercio (What for you is important, for them it is everything. This Christmas, I support the small businesses).”

In 2019, along with second-placer for the 2021 Ballon d’Or, Jennifer Hermoso, she got up on a float at the Gay Pride parade in Madrid and let herself be photographed wrapped in the Rainbow flag. Incidentally, Jennifer, who captains the Spain Women’s National Football Team, is the all-time top-scorer for Barça Femení and for the Spanish national team.


> Featured image (Guidepost collage: Alexia Putellas/Steffen Prößdorf, CC BY-SA4.0, cropped and framed. Crown/Marcelo Russo de Oliveira, Pixabay
> Quote mark/Oakus 53,  CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> Luis Suarez/ElGrafico, PD via Wikimedia Commons
> Globe Soccer trophies (2012)/Andreab 69, CC BY-SA3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> Alexia Putellas at FC Barcelona v. Real Sociedad, June 2021/Giovanni Batista Rodriguez, CC BY-SA2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> Alexia Putellas, shirt Nº 11, poses with Spain Women’s National Team/El Loko, CC BY4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> Alexia Putella at Barça Femení, 2016/Electro07, CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
> France  Football cover/Fair use via Wikipedia
> Alexia superwoman: “Follow Your Dream”/Manuel C., CC BY-SA4.0 via Wikipedia. Cropped
> Gay thumps-up/Kurious, Pixabay