The Guardian Footballer of the Year Virginia Torrecilla: ‘When people say I’m a fighter, it’s lovely’

The Atlético Madrid midfielder is back playing after cancer and being ‘sunk’ by an accident that left her mother in a wheelchair

The Guardian Footballer of the Year is an award given to a player who has done something remarkable, whether by overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example by acting with exceptional honesty.

Virginia Torrecilla had been through 13 months of treatment, 30 rounds of radiotherapy, 15 cycles of chemo, hair slowly returning a year after the removal of a brain tumour, and was “starting to feel like I could go on at last” when she was involved in the car crash that left her in a deep depression and put her mother, Mari, in a wheelchair. “You come out of one tunnel, you’re getting there and you go into another, even worse,” she says. “I couldn’t understand why this was happening when I’ve never been a bad person.”

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