Linda Caicedo Helps Colombia Make History at the Women’s World Cup

18-year-old forward Linda Caicedo helped Colombia become the only Latin American team to advance to the tournament’s quarterfinals

Linda Caicedo

Photo: Instagram/ @linda__caicedo11

Since the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup started in mid-July, viewers have been captivated while watching and cheering for their favorite team. Originally, the six qualifying teams from Latin America were Costa Rica, Haiti, Brazil, Panama, Argentina, and Colombia, but as of yesterday, Colombia is the only Latin American team to advance to the tournament’s quarterfinals in a historic victory against Jamaica. It is also the first time in the country’s history that it advances to the quarter-finals and they are also the first South American nation in 12 years to reach the quarter-finals for the Women’s World Cup. As Colombian soccer fans celebrated their country’s win, it was 18-year-old forward Linda Caicedo who stood out, regarded as one of the tournament’s most exciting players to watch. 

Hailing from Candelaria, Colombia,  Caicedo has scored two of Colombia’s goals so far in the tournament and has recently signed with Real Madrid, but the young player has faced an immense amount of adversity throughout her athletic career. When she was 14 she made her professional debut  playing for América de Cali and finished that year as the top scorer.

At just 15 years old, Caicedo was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, leading the soccer superstar to believe that her career and dreams of representing Colombia might be compromised. “At the time, I didn’t think I could play professionally again because of all the treatments and surgeries I had to go through,” Caicedo told FIFA in June. “Mentally, it was a very difficult moment in my life. I’m forever grateful that it happened when I was very young. I was able to recover, I also had my family’s support. And I feel very good now, what happened made me grow. I feel thankful and happy to be here.”

With her family and coaches by her side, seven months later she was officially declared cancer-free in September 2020. Since then, she’s gone on to compete in the 2022 Copa América Femenina, where she was named the best player of the tournament, the U-17 World Cup & U-20 World Cups (for players under 17 and 20 respectively), and the 2023 FIFA World Cup. Having been present and scoring at all three tournaments, the Colombiana is the tournament’s first woman to play all three Cups within a year

“I’m still growing, and that pressure is difficult sometimes, but that’s why you need to find physical and mental balance. I try to see everything that has happened to me as a good thing and try to have fun, because playing football is my passion,” Caicedo said in an interview with FIFA.“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of representing Colombia… I have many expectations and I want to give my best.”

Colombian fans have been enthralled with Caicedo and her fellow players’ performances, with social media posts celebrating the historic wins. Four years ago, Colombia failed to qualify for the World Cup, and the closest they had ever been to victory was during the 2015 tournament when it lost to the U.S. national women’s team in the round of 16. As the tournament continues and Colombians around the world celebrate their historic success, many are excited to watch Caicedo and well-known players like Ana Guzman, Manuela Vanegas, Maria Catalina Usme, and Daniela Montoya use their talents to hopefully secure more victories in the future. 

“When we qualified for the World Cup, the first thing I said to my team was we are not here just to spend time [at the World Cup],” Colombia coach Nelson Abadia told Fox Sports via interpreter. “We want to make history. It’s better to make history than tell history. This is something very special for us. This is national pride.”

Next up, Colombia will play against England on Saturday’s quarter-final at Stadium Australia.

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2023 FIFA Women's World Cup Afro-Colombian Ana Guzman Colombia Colombian history colombiana Copa América Femenina Daniela Montoya Featured futbol Latin American soccer latinas making history Linda Caicedo Manuela Vanegas Maria Catalina Usme soccer trending
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