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Caroline Graham Hansen: Barcelona's Ballon d'Or frontrunner who almost quit football at 23

There has been no better women's player on the planet this season than Caroline Graham Hansen. The two-time Champions League winner has racked up truly insane numbers, 26 goals and 24 assists in 31 Barcelona appearances, and is surely the front-runner for the Ballon d’Or while the Catalans target a first-ever quadruple. But this stage of her illustrious career almost never arrived. At 23 years old, she was ready to quit.

After losing the 2018 Champions League final with Wolfsburg, subbed off at half-time due to injury, Graham Hansen called her family and told them she was done. “I was serious,” she explained. “I was so far down. I was injured again. I couldn't perform at my best level. I didn't have any fun anymore. At that moment, after so many rehabs, I didn't have any motivation to keep getting smashed in the face.”

Fortunately, it wouldn’t come to that and, in the six years since, the injuries have stopped slowing Graham Hansen down, allowing her to play a key role in Barcelona’s development into the best team in Europe, if not the world. As the business end of the season approaches and Saturday’s Champions League semi-final meeting with Chelsea looms, the Catalans boast so many world-class players who can decide a match almost single-handedly. None, though, are as dangerous as Graham Hansen is right now.

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