'I watched Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho, now Putellas is a reference point' - Spanish NXGN star Medina hails Ballon d'Or winner's influence

Andrea Medina Real Betis Women 2021-22Getty

Real Betis’ teenage star Andrea Medina has described Barcelona star Alexia Putellas as “a reference point for everyone right now”, describing her achievements as “another step forward for Spain women’s football”.

The 17-year-old, who has ranked at No.8 in the women’s NXGN 2022 list, made her senior debut with Betis in January 2020, aged just 15.

Since then, she has established herself in the first team and is emerging as a real talent at left-back – no surprise given she names Jordi Alba and Roberto Carlos as other idols of hers.

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In an exclusive interview with GOAL, Medina spoke about her role models both as a child and today.

“My father used to show me videos of Roberto Carlos and Ronaldinho," she said. "They are references for me.

"When I was a girl, there were still no female role models in my time, but now little girls do have female role models.

“I like Jordi Alba a lot, although people criticise him a lot, but I think he is a very good player, very offensive and defensively very powerful.

"And from the girls. Alexia Putellas, who is a reference point for everyone right now, and for me too because she has achieved what no one has achieved so far and I think that's very good.

“I think that Alexia winning the Ballon d'Or is another step forward for Spanish women's football, because whether you like it or not, it means that women's football is more followed and there are more women's players and it's a very big step forward for her and for us.

“I think that the time that I have had to live in is a privilege because, for example, [Angela] Sosa or Paulita [Real Betis team-mates] have not had the opportunity that I am having now to fight for women's football. I think that the time that I have had to live in is a privilege and I hope that many more things will be achieved.”

Medina also described Simone Biles, the joint-most decorated gymnast of all time, as someone she admires outside of football. “She is a person who has given everything for sport,” the teenager explained. “She is very brave because she left the Olympics due to mental health problems. I think she is a person to be admired.”

Andrea Medina framed NXGN image 4:5

‘I was so nervous for my debut I couldn’t put my shin guards on!’

Speaking about her integration into the first team at such a young age, Medina, who grew up as a Betis fan, recalled the "nerves" she had on the week of her debut.

“I remember a week before and I already knew that I was going to be called up because Paulita had five yellow cards, so they told me that I would probably be called up,” she remembered.

“That whole week was a week of nerves, of uncertainty, because for a 15-year-old girl to go with the first team and to have the chance to make her debut was incredible. I was super nervous. I couldn't put my shin guards on!"

“I think the work I do every day has its own process,” she added, reflecting on her development since becoming a regular in the team. “I consider myself a fast and quick player who puts a lot of courage into the matches. I think that's what characterises me.

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“There are many aspects to improve day-by-day, because I think it's a constant learning process to be in the first division and to be next to team-mates who know a lot.

"I'm only 17 years old. I still have a lot to learn, so I think I still have a long way to go.”

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