The life of Virginia Torrecilla (Cala Millor, Mallorca, 1994) changed forever twice: in May 2020 and in June 2021. He was first diagnosed with a brain tumour and then was in a car accident after which his mother was left in a wheelchair. "It hurts more about my mother," he admits in a candid chat with EL MUNDO. Spain's former best player at the 2019 World Cup was forced to move away from the pitch and into hospitals, pushing her body and mind to the limit. Now, slowly recovering normality and feeling like a footballer again at Villarreal after leaving Atlético, tears fall to his eyes as he remembers what he experienced. He tells it all in the pages of the book 'No One Regrets Being Brave'.

How did the idea of writing come about? I've always liked to write, although I'm a person who doesn't open up much with people about their feelings. Since I was diagnosed with cancer and went to Pamplona, I began to write for myself, so that tomorrow I would remember everything I had gone through and the feelings I had had. Then they wrote to me from the publisher and told me they wanted to do a book telling my story. And I didn't hesitate. How do you deal with talking about what has happened to you? There are times when I feel sorry, when I cry, and other times when I laugh after seeing everything I have lived and what I have assumed as a person. I haven't been able to read the book. I feel very sorry for it. I remembered my grandmother, what I suffered, my mother's accident... Things that I had forgotten and that when I go back hurt because I have not really been aware of everything I have lived despite having suffered a lot. But when you go back and see your head's ability to forget... Coming back is very hard. What things had you forgotten? Many. It's crazy. But there are memories that talking to people... Like when my mother happened. I had forgotten the moment when I get up in the car after the accident and my mother tells me, 'Virginia, I can't feel my legs.' My mind erased that completely. I remembered getting up, but my head had erased that. I also said to my partner, "But I've overcome cancer?" The head has an incredible ability to erase things that have hurt a lot. I also didn't remember how my mother had arrived at the hospital in Toledo, I don't know what I talked to my father about after that moment... I only remembered being in the hospital. That's what shocked me the most when I wrote. What was the hardest part? My mother's accident, no doubt. (...) And I get excited because when you go through it yourself, well, you go through it, you know how you feel, what you can do and what you can't, but when it happens to the person next to you, who is the one who came to take care of me during my illness and unfortunately this happens to them... You have a sense of guilt. It's true that I wasn't at fault for the accident because we were rear-ended, but I was the one driving. It was very difficult for me to accept everything I had to assume as a person. My life changed when I was 25 years old and I thought, "How can it be that life is hitting me so hard?" And without a doubt, and I've always said it, I've been through cancer and I would go through it 10, 15 and 20 times more if my mother could walk again. I don't doubt it and I mean it from the heart. What was your reaction to the world, fate or whatever you want to call it? Is there a moment when you say "that's it, I can't take it anymore"? Yes. There have been moments... (...). At the end of the chemo everything was very hard, I had lost a lot of kilos, I didn't eat anymore and honestly I don't know how I lived, and I said "I don't want any more chemo". It's just that if I died, I didn't care. I couldn't take it anymore, I didn't have the strength. They are words that you say because you are weak but when what happened to my mother happens to me, when I see that I don't work in football either, psychologically I fall into a very deep depression, a depression that I can't find an end to, because of course I thought about it, that I didn't want to live anymore. I said to myself, "Why do I want more suffering in my life?" Even today, when something goes wrong, I think that I don't want to be in life suffering. But then I think about it and after everything we've been through, my parents are still alive, my siblings are fine... There are weak moments, but what aboutAnd I mean, I always try to move forward. How are you now? Well, it's getting better every day. I'm in good spirits and what affects me the most is football. I always demand a lot from myself and sometimes I don't enjoy as much as I should, I push myself a lot. I want more as a footballer and that makes me suffer. How can it be that I get like this for football after all? Well, yes. Are you more demanding of yourself now than you were before? Much more. I want to find the best version of myself and it's like... "Fuck, Vir, you have to give more." And it's true that I've had an incredible journey all these months, I have very good things that I didn't have before and I'm happy, but I always want more and that makes me feel less good than I should. How has your body changed and how have you been assimilating those changes? Imagine... In two years I haven't had time to be the Virginia I've always been. I trained at 47 kilos when I used to weigh 73. It has been a very slow and very hard process because I have suffered a lot, not only mentally. On a physical level, it has been very difficult for me to get back to 70 kilos, until almost two months ago. With a lot of effort for months and months, mornings, afternoons, drinking smoothies, eating twice as much... I had never felt so much soreness when I got out of bed. What has been the worst moment? I'm clear about that. There have been many, because I had a process of radium and chemo of almost a year and before that I went through the operation, the post-operation... It has been a very hard process and not only for me, but also for my family. I remember my mother when I had surgery, I would go to sleep and I would suffer because I would hear my mother crying. There have been many hard moments, but the worst has been the last two months of chemo. Horrible. I didn't eat anymore, I couldn't get out of bed, the chemo was hurting me a lot, psychologically seeing myself in the hospital for so many days, feeling ugly, with a dry and pasty mouth that tasted like iron... It was the worst months of my life. From crying a lot, a lot, that my mother didn't even leave the room because she saw that I was very bad. What has it been like for your family? Very complicated. It has changed our lives, not only because of my illness, but also because of having my mother in a wheelchair. My father went to live in Toledo for 7 months because my mother was in the paraplegic hospital there, my sister was left alone with a newborn child, my brother was left alone at home working... For them it has been difficult to experience everything from the outside, from Mallorca, they went when they had a day off. Today we are much better. We lived in a country house with stairs, we didn't have an elevator, we also had to change the shower, the doors... My mother has also suffered a lot, but we have overcome it as a family and there I highlight my father. He's the one who pulls everything, I'm sure he's the one who has suffered the most and now he's pulling my mother. He has a lot of merit at 70 years old. Has all this changed your relationship with your mother? I think we've always had family love, but as a result of what we've lived we've become much closer. We've opened up about things we've never talked about before... And I put a lot of effort into my mother even though she's in a wheelchair. It has taught us to suffer but also to value what we have. At what point does football reappear after the illness? When I got sick, football took a back seat, of course, but as I recovered, my family was already at a stable point, my dream was to play again. For me and por my parents. I know they want to see me enjoy themselves. I lost all the illusion after leaving Atlético de Madrid, of not playing, of seeing that I didn't matter as a player, and that's why I came to Villarreal. I think they were very good to me and I'll always have them with me, but it's true that I think, although I understand it, that I deserved more minutes so I didn't see myself like that, with my head down and not feeling part of many things. It was incredible. She was skinny, with shaved hair... I didn't know how to coordinate or give the ball. How could it be! It was nice to see how he was improving. Then I made my debut in the Super Cup and I'll never forget it when the Barça players blanketed me after the final. At what point do you feel like a person and a footballer again? If I'm honest, I think this summer. I left Atlético hurt by a lot of things and I felt like it wasn't me. I suffered a lot, I had no illusions about anything, I wanted to quit football... Now I'm better coming to a new club and being part of something. Look, in the summer, when I hadn't trained for a week, I went to the gym and ran into a man. He saw me training and said "how good you train, but you walk around with your head down because you don't think you are the person you are". And I realized that it was true, that I didn't want to be looked at, I didn't feel safe, I didn't feel like a person or an athlete. And then when I signed for Villarreal I started to feel better, good and loved again. Speaking of football, world champions. Who would have thought that! Do you have a little more football rage there? Oh, no... Not really. I'm very happy for the selection. The only thing that bothered me was the people who in the end couldn't go to the tournament, who stood up and said "no" after everything they had experienced. And the World Cup is also their merit even if they haven't played in it. I have resentment about that. I'm happy that women's football is moving forward. How have you experienced the demands of the last few months? I've been out of it all, but I've always been with them. I am aware of many things because we have lived through very critical moments. For me Jorge (Vilda) was always very good to me, when I got sick he was one of the first to come to see me and he has behaved very well. Obviously I wasn't at the Euros and I'm not aware of what happened, but in the last year I'm at the top of my game with my teammates. Unfortunately, it took all this to realise what we were asking for. They have opened doors for those who come from behind so that they know that they do not have to go through what we have gone through. I think what they've asked for are changes in the Federation from who was there before. Everything that has to do with the person who was there before, we don't want it. It's fundamental to women's football. And I think they've said it: "We want to dedicate ourselves only to football." Were you surprised by the kiss? Yes, I was surprised. It doesn't have to happen in any aspect, let alone live. I was very disappointed with women who didn't defend Jenni when there were images. It seems absurd to me. What if it happened to your daughter? And for the men who have defended you: What if it happened to your partner? Of course. Unfortunately. But thanks to that, people have realized that things were not going well.

  • RFEF
  • Spain Women's National Football Team
  • Women's Football
  • Women's World Cup