Spain’s World Cup star Aitana Bonmati wins women’s Ballon d’Or

Spain and Barcelona player Aitana Bonmati has won the women’s Ballon d’Or for the first time.

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Bonmati succeeded her international teammate Alexia Putellas as winner of the prize after inspiring Spain to glory at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year.

She also starred as Barcelona won the Champions League last season and was recently named as the UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

“It is difficult to improve on this. It has honestly been a unique year,” she told various media including AFP after collecting her award.

“If anyone had said to me when I was little that I would play at the Camp Nou, win a World Cup, two Champions Leagues, a Ballon d’Or, a UEFA prize, extraordinary things have happened for me lately.”

“I am lucky to be part of a club like Barca, where I am surrounded by the best players,” she added of the Spanish and European champions.

The 25-year-old midfielder was named the best player at the World Cup as the Spanish team overcame off-field turbulence, including protests against their national federation and coach Jorge Vilda, to lift the trophy.

Their victory celebrations after beating England in the final in Sydney were overshadowed by Spanish Football Federation chief Luis Rubiales’s forced kiss on the lips of Bonmati’s teammate Jenni Hermoso as she went to collect her medal.

On Monday, Rubiales was handed a three-year ban from all football activities for three years.

However, Bonmati did not want to take the focus away from her own achievement on Monday.

“I hope we can just talk about sport. There are enough extraordinary things in our country for us to always be talking about things that are less about sport,” she said.

Bonmati was one of four members of the triumphant Spain team to feature among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or, with Alba Redondo, Salma Paralluelo and full-back Olga Carmona, who netted the winner in the final, all shortlisted too.

Chelsea and Australia forward Sam Kerr came second in the final voting, with Paralluelo, a teammate of Bonmati’s at Barcelona, in third place.

Putellas, who also plays with Bonmati at Barcelona, was not nominated after missing almost all of last season with a serious knee injury.

Putellas had won the Ballon d’Or in each of the previous two campaigns. Norway’s Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural award in 2018 and USA star Megan Rapinoe succeeded her a year later.

There was no winner in 2020 due to the pandemic.

(AFP)

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