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He defeated cancer and scored in three World Cups in one year. Caicedo is the hope of Real Madrid and the Colombian national team

Date: May 19, 2024 Time: 13:25:07

The last year in the life of a young Colombian soccer player Linda Caicedo is like a series:

scored four goals in the U-17 World Cup, reached the final, got second place; scored two goals at the U-20 World Cup, reached the quarterfinals; scored in the Colombian national team’s first match at the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand; he took silver at home Copa América and became the best player of the tournament. Reaching the final helped Colombia qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 2015, and in February he moved to Real Madrid from Deportivo Cali. In 10 games, he scored two goals and made four assists.

Caicedo is the first player in history to score in three World Cups in one year. She earned the nickname Colombia’s Neymar and became one of the most talked-about young players at the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Linda Caicedo with a silver boot or medal at the U-17 Junior World Championship

Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

At the age of 11, Linda Caicedo began playing soccer in the city of Cali at the Atlas Sports School, founded by former Colombian national soccer player Carolina Pineda. A participant in the 2012 Olympics in London, he calls his school a social project that helps talented children from “deep Columbia” start playing soccer and “not get lost.”

At the age of 14, Caicedo signed his first professional contract with América de Cali. You can’t imagine a better debut: seven goals in seven games, a Golden Boot and a championship!

Just a year later, Caicedo had to take a break, but not because of the pandemic. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The sport faded into the background, heavy treatment began.

Linda Caicedo

Colombian striker in the fight against cancer

“Then I thought: I won’t be able to play football at a professional level again because of operations and procedures. Psychologically, it was a difficult time. I am very grateful that this happened at a young age, and I was able to recover quickly, my family supported me. Now I feel good. What happened helped me grow.”

Fortunately, the cancer was detected at an early stage, and seven months after the tumor was removed, Caicedo returned to football. She continued her career at Deportivo Cali, where she was again champion of Colombia in 2021, debuted in the Copa Libertadores and became one of the top scorers of the tournament (four goals).

Linda Caicedo in Deportivo Cali

Photo: Mauricio Dueñas Castañeda/EPA/TASS

2022 was the most important year in Caicedo’s life. She scored the winning goal in the semifinals of the Copa América at home to Argentina and became the MVP of the final, in which Colombia lost to Brazil (0: 1). Later, Linda helped the youth team reach the U-20 World Cup playoffs, leading the group with Germany, Mexico and New Zealand. In the fall, the Colombian youth team reached the World Cup final for the first time in the history of Colombian football (both women’s and men’s). Colombia lost to Spain with a minimum score. Caicedo led her team as captain.

In February 2023, a few days after turning 18, the Colombian striker became a Real Madrid player. Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Chelsea wanted him, but Madrid won this race and gave the Colombian media a reason to compare Caicedo to James Rodriguez. At the end of the season, he played 10 games, in which he was able to score twice and make four assists. In autumn, he will have to spend his first full season as part of the Spanish giant.

Caicedo at Real Madrid

Photo: Diego Souto/Getty Images

“Since childhood, I dreamed of playing abroad. I not only want to grow as a footballer, but also improve, get to know other cultures and learn new languages,” Caicedo said in an interview with The Guardian during a trip to London.

At the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Caicedo was already in the status of one of the tournament’s top young talents. But she still sees football as a joy rather than a quest for achievement:

“My strengths are humility and the ability to rejoice,” Caicedo said in an interview with FIFA. – In the field, I can be myself with the gift God gave me. Have fun, which is very important, and don’t stop the flow of your game. StillI am growing, and this pressure is sometimes difficult for me, but I need to find physical and psychological balance. I try to have fun because playing football is my passion.”

Caicedo at the 2023 World Cup

Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Linda Caicedo scored in the first match of the group stage of the 2023 World Cup: she became the author of the second goal against South Korea. The Colombian team has a good chance of qualifying from the group. We have to beat the Moroccans, the debutants of the tournament, and the match with Germany will be a real test for both teams.

“We understand that the countries that have qualified for the World Cup are the best in the world. All the games will be difficult, all the groups will be difficult. But we are preparing for this. What you can expect from Colombia is the attitude, effort and discipline we will show in every match. The team is calm, working, and we know that every meeting is a final. We have a clear idea of what we want to do to get out of the band and then go down in history.”

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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