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I am not a selfish footballer: Aitana Bonmati | Football News

“Hello, I am Aitana.” It is not the first thing you would expect from a World Cup, Nations League, Champions League, Liga F, Ballon d’Or and FIFA Player of the Year winner. Aitana Bonmati reminds Xavi of himself, the Barcelona coach, legend and World Cup winner has said. Pep Guardiola has called her the Andres Iniesta of the women’s game. Forget the trophies, those statements would do away with the need for an introduction. But in a black high-neck jacket where she would sometimes hide her mouth, Bonmati was warmly saying who she was for the benefit of journalists from the Asia-Pacific region.

Aitana Bonmati reminds Xavi of himself, the Barcelona coach, legend and World Cup winner has said(FC Barcelona)

It didn’t surprise that Bonmati rated 2023 as “maybe the best year of my life.” When you play for Spain and Barcelona, it makes it easier to win individual trophies, she said. Spain have the winning mentality but equally important is their improvement in physical ability. Time was when Spain would not match USA Sweden or France in physicality, said Bonmati.

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The clutch of individual and team accolades have not sated her. “I want more. I am very ambitious. I want to be a better Aitana every year,” she said on a Teams call on Wednesday.

Ambition was a recurring theme in her answers. The Olympic gold is a target for 2024 as is the attempt to win four titles for Barcelona in 2023-24, one more than what they managed last term. In 2022-23, Barcelona won Liga F. Champions League and Supercopa de Espana. This time, they have bagged Supercopa and lead Liga F on 54 points after 18 games, 10 more than second-placed Real Madrid. Barcelona are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League where they meet Norway’s Brann over two legs later this month. On Thursday and on March 15, Barcelona take on Athletic Club in the Copa de la Reina semi-finals, a tournament where they lost in the round of 16 last season.

Does that make Barcelona’s women team better than the men’s now? “I don’t want to compare. We have grown over the past few years. But I remember from five-six years ago, when we didn’t win the league. Now, it seems easy but it is not,” said Bonmati. Eight Liga F titles, including four in a row, make Barcelona the most successful team in Spain but earlier this century Barcelona were in the second division.

But as much titles matter what Bonmati would like to remember when she retires is what teammates and coaches think of her. She said this while replying to HT asking what the oft-repeated comment that she improves teammates mean to her. “One of the most important things I would like to have when I retire is what other players and coaches say about me. Football is more than moving on your own. It is also about creating space for your teammates. At Barcelona, we know each other well so I try to make movements to make space for others. I am not a selfish footballer.”

Which then explains why Bonmati wants to use her newly acquired status to improve women’s football. “It is better than a few years ago but we are fighting for everything we deserve. There is a lot to do and salary is just one of the things. I would like institutions to a make a good investment in women’s football so that it gives us an opportunity to grow.”

Now that she is known in “more houses” than ever before, maybe there will come a time when boys and girls will have women footballers as idols, said Bonmati. “That didn’t exist” in her time so Bonmati said she grew up idolising Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi “for the way they took care of the ball.” And Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona. “Mornings would feel different when Barcelona were due to play in the afternoon,” she said.

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