“When people say that I am a fighter, an example, it is precious”
MADRID, Jan. 2 (.) –
The Spanish player from Atlético de Madrid Virginia Torrecilla has won the ‘The Guardian Footballer of the Year’ award, which is awarded by the British media to a player who has done something remarkable, be it overcoming adversity, helping others or setting a sporting example , in 2022 in which he played again after overcoming cancer.
Torrecilla had been undergoing months of treatment, 30 rounds of radiotherapy, 15 cycles of chemotherapy and the removal of a brain tumor, when a traffic accident left her mother in a wheelchair. But he overcame all this, was able to return to the pitch and now receives this distinction from ‘The Guardian’.
“I was devastated. I would go through cancer fifteen more times. I would do 30 chemos to make my mom walk again. I promise, I promise. With all my heart. Three years on chemo. Five! I don’t care. If only I could back on my feet. I blamed myself. She says I can’t think like that. She’s my mother, she’ll always defend me. But, no, no. What my mother went through”, acknowledged the Spanish player.
When the accident happened, he wanted to drop everything. “I told the club: ‘I don’t want to continue’. I told my parents that I wanted to quit, go back home. They told me: ‘Don’t even think about it’.” And he paid attention and, six months later, in January 2022 and after 683 days without playing, he returned to the pitch to play the final of the Spanish Super Cup, which Atlético lost to Barça.
“When people say that I am a fighter, an example, it is precious. But the pain that I felt: it is not the cancer in my body, it is everything that I overcame psychologically, everything that I went through with my mother. That is hard, of true. Very, very, very hard.” And it still is. His story is inspiring, but he insists it’s not complete,” she opened up.
The cancer diagnosis came to him in May 2020, in training. “My neck ached, the pain went up to my head. I couldn’t sleep. On the treadmill I felt dizzy and sick. I thought: ‘Something is wrong'”, he recalled in an interview with ‘The Guardian’ after receiving the award.
Torrecilla lost 16 kilos and her hair during the process of fighting cancer. As he relates, he was weak, vulnerable. “My nephew had just been born but I didn’t have the strength to lift him and I couldn’t pick him up in case he gave me something. I had the support of Atlético: if not, I’m not here,” he acknowledged.
“It all comes together. I get cancer, beat it. The shock. My mom’s brother dies. She’s devastated, the whole family is. One thing after another and you can’t get over it all. It’s hard to take. My mom was in intensive care for two weeks, which was horrible. Then six months in hospital in Toledo, for rehabilitation, preparing her for life in the chair. I had always been positive but I became a very negative person. I blamed myself.” , was explained.
“Fighting cancer, I didn’t see a psychologist: I knew what I was facing. But when that happened, I didn’t know what to do, if it was worth staying here. I was sunk. I went into a depression. I didn’t want to leave the house. I came to train because it was my job. I just wanted to go home, be with my family. I was so depressed. I didn’t eat, I didn’t sleep. Playing was an obligation”, he assured.
And he played again in that Spanish Super Cup. “I got up, left with my mask and coat still on. I ran back to the dugout, left it there, took off my mask. Shin guards. I was a mess, I was so nervous. I hadn’t played in two years and I could barely remember what do. I was so desperate to go out, for people to see me”, he recalled about his ‘debut’.