Strong is – Atletico de Madrid midfielder Virginia Torrecilla

In a hard-hitting and emotional film, Virginia talks in depth about her cancer diagnosis in the spring of 2020. This began with a series of headaches and neck pain which encouraged her to undergo a scan – doctors discovered it was a brain tumour. 

Virginia said: “They told me I would have to undergo 30 round of radiotherapy and 15 round of chemo. The first thing I thought was: Am I dying?”

Virginia also talks about facing her biggest challenge to date – whilst making progress with her cancer recovery, on June 3, 2021, Virginia and her mother were in a car accident which subsequently left her mother paralysed from the waist down. 

Virginia shared: “I felt like it was all my fault. If I could turn back time, I would go through cancer not just give, but seven or ten times if it meant my mum could walk again today.”

Following the crash, Virginia almost quit football but was encouraged by her parents to follow her dreams. She said: “It was really difficult to see my Mum in a wheelchair. I told them that I wanted to quit football. And do you know what they said? They said no. That if I quit football, it would kill them. And I then realised that I had to keep going to achieve my dreams, and especially theirs, which was to be the Virginia I was before.”

Six months later, Virginia returned to the game she loves and reminisces in the documentary about being selected for the Atletico de Madrid squad again. On January 23, she featured as a substitute in the SuperCup final against FC Barcelona and didn’t expect to play but was delighted to make her emotional return on the 85th minute. 

Torrecilla was given a standing ovation from both set of fans before being welcomed back by Barcelona captain and friend, Alexia Putellas – she also received the captain’s armband from team-mate, Amanda Sampedro. 

Virginia remembers: “The moment I stepped up to the sideline, Alexia came over and gave me a hug. She said ‘I’m so happy that you’re back.’ And when I got a Messi-style embrace – they chanted my name, the rival team applauded me, me teammates were hugging me. When Amanda gave me the captain’s armband, I had goosebumps.”

With thanks to UEFA