No stopping Spain hotshot Salma
The Barcelona forward has been breaking barriers in her first World Cup with Spain. Her winner in the quarter finals is etched into history.
It was one of those iconic moments that will always be remembered in Spanish football - Salma Paralluelo breaking free and sprinting towards goal, a drop of the shoulder then a fierce, precise shot that crashed off the post and lashed the back of the net. As was the celebration - the subs@ Montse, Blanca, Lerga, coaching staff and team mates all racing towards the winger, who had just put Spain into the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup for the first time in history.
And the celebrating was just as intense back home in Spain, 20,000 kilometers away, even though it was barely past 5 a.m. in the morning. What Salma achieved against the Netherlands is already part of the history of Spanish women’s football.
“Today is your day”
Salma explained that the team’s physios Dario Vaquero and Miguel del Potro had a premonition that she was going to get on the scoresheet. “Before the game, they said that this could be my day, that I was going to score. They gave me encouragement and made sure that I was fired up when it was time for me to come on. That’s how it turned out. After I scored, I went looking for them but couldn’t see them! But afterwards we had a big hug and he told me that he knew I would get a goal, that I deserved it, so both of us were quite emotional, and very happy”.
Who could have imagined 15 months ago that the FC Barcelona winger would make such an impact to put La Roja in position to dream for the biggest prize of all. In May 2022, when the pre-list for the Euro Cup was announced. The big surprise was Salma. She entered the definitive list, while other renowned players such as Amaiur, Abelleira or Zornoza were left out.
As coach Jorge Vilda explained at the time: “She’s started well, she’s got off on the right footing and given us signs that she can perform at a very high level against tall, physical central defenders. She has faced Irene, Mapi, Pereira... and made life very difficult for them. So she has show what she is capable of. Salma’s a player for the future, she’s a different kind of player - she’s young, but it’s not just her physical strength that sets her apart, although that is impressive. She also has great technical quality and above all, a great future, with a lot to learn”. However, an injury just before the tournament kept her sidelined and prevented her from making her senior debut.
But the coach knew what he had on his hands. By that time Salma, who is also a talented sprinter, had already been standing out in the lower categories. In each tournament she played in, Spain was crowned champions: the U-17 World Cup in 2018 (one goal), the U-20 World Cup in 2022 (three goals)... and now the 2023 Women’s World Cup, with her historic winner to put Spain in the semis. Her numbers speak for themselves - seven goals in 12 games with the national team (two against Vietnam, one against Denmark, a brace against Norway, a hat trick against Argentina on her debut).
Lightning pace, thunderous shot
Salma’s strike in the quarter finals brought two of her qualities to the fore - her blistering pace and powerful shot. According to the data metrics provided by Connected Ball technology, with sensors inside the official Adidas OCEAUNZ ball, FIFA was able to confirm that in Salma winner against the Netherlands, the ball travelled at a maximum speed of 98.41 km /h - placing it among the five fastest recorded shots during the tournament.
At 19 years and 271 days, she is also the youngest player to score in extra-time in World Cup history. It says a lot about her bravery and character. And there is much more to come, as Vilda noted: “Salma hasn’t even reached her ceiling yet”.