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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL | LAURA DEL RÍO

Laura del Río: “Going abroad makes a big difference”

The Washington Spirit striker says this season will probably her last but is full of optimism for the new crop of Spanish players coming through.

She was one of the pioneers of women’s football in Spainand the first Spanish player to play in the United States, but Laura del Río says this season will probably be her last. A future in coaching is on the horizon but for now, the centre-forward – one of the most-capped players at international level with Spain, is focusing on returning to full fitness for the start of the NWSL season with Washington Spirit in April.

The 32-year-old, who made 40 appearances with Spain, told AS that she doesn’t think she will return to play at international level but has high hopes for the current team under Jorge Gilda. “They’re doing very well. I think they missed something at the World Cup. The players know that they can do much better and I think Spain’s national team has a chance to do something big”.

Laura joined FC Indiana in 2008, becoming the first Spanish player to cross the Atlantic to play in the US. She believes that others, including Arsenal Ladies internationals Vicky Losada, Marta Corredera and Natalia Pablos have also benefitted from moving abroad to compete in Europe’s major leagues. The FA Women’s Super League, says Laura, is much more demanding: “You have to improve your speed, your thinking, your technique... it’s a different kind of football – it’s faster and stronger. You can see the difference when they play with the national team – I think they are better players, they are more complete now”.

In her interview with AS, Laura also gave her thoughts on a few of the game’s big names – such as Verónica Boquete, Carli Lloyd, Aya Miyama and five-time World Player of the Year, Marta as well as her hopes and wishes for the future of women’s football.