As women’s soccer soars worldwide, Colombian professional player Leicy Santos is shining in Europe. As a midfielder at a leading team in Spain’s women’s league, she inspires other women in Colombia in soccer. Read on to discover more about her and her stellar career.
From humble beginnings to playing abroad
Leicy Santos was born on May 16th, 1996, in Lorica, Córdoba, in northern Colombia. She used to play barefoot on the street because her family could not afford proper soccer shoes. However, she always dreamed of being a professional player (ESPN, 2021; Garzón, 2021).
When she was 12 years old, she convinced her parents to let her move to Bogotá to pursue her dreams. She then became a member of the local soccer club Besser. Later on, she went on to play at the American college league with Iowa Central Community College (Salazar, 2021).
In 2016, Colombia’s women’s team drafted her to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. That caught the attention of the top Colombian soccer club Santa Fe. Over the next year, they called upon her to play for them at the first-ever women’s national professional tournament. Santos became the event’s shining star by scoring 11 goals in 16 matches for the team, which would end up champion.
Such success and promise landed Leicy Santos at Spain’s Atlético de Madrid women’s squad in 2019 (Garzón, 2021).
Leicy Santos at Atlético de Madrid
During her first year playing for the team, Santos was recognized as the most valuable Latin American player in the Spanish league. Her performance has also earned her a regular spot in the team during matches as a midfielder. With only a few years in European soccer, she got her first title there when her team won Spain’s Supercup in 2021 (Garzón, 2021).
Furthermore, playing in Europe has allowed Santos to work with some of the world’s greatest female soccer players. She deems that experience as invaluable for her and other Latin American athletes (ESPN, 2021).
Her take on Colombian women’s soccer
Leicy Santos believes her country’s women’s soccer scene needs to grow and improve. After playing in Spain, she sees that Colombian players need to improve their training and preparation.
Soccer is becoming more and more physical. For her, there are still many problems with women’s soccer in Colombia. She says very few players can support themselves with their salaries. Additionally, Santos thinks the national professional tournament is too short (ESPN, 2021).
In fact, she believes the lack of constant competition hinders Colombian women players despite their talent. “A player that performs in many matches a year is not the same as a player that performs in 14”, she points out (Barrios, 2021). Santos’ career is still on the rise. Her dedication and talent continue to earn her a place among Colombian female athletes like María Isabel Urrutia and Mariana Pajón.
Barrios, I. (2021). “En talento no tenemos que envidiarle nada a nadie”: Leicy Santos. El Heraldo. https://www.elheraldo.co/deportes/leicy-santos-cree-que-colombia-no-debe-envidiarle-nada-ninguna-seleccion-850391
ESPN. (2021). Leicy Santos expuso las dificultades que viven las jugadoras en el FPC. https://www.espn.com.co/futbol/nota/_/id/8815358/leicy-santos-entrevista-balon-dividido-colombiana-jugadora-dificultades-fpc
Federación Colombiana de Fútbol. (n.d.). Leicy Santos. https://fcf.com.co/index.php/player/leicy-santos/
Garzón, F. (2021). Leicy Santos jugaba fútbol con los pies descalzos y ahora triunfa en Europa. El Espectador. https://www.elespectador.com/deportes/futbol-mundial/leicy-santos-jugaba-futbol-con-los-pies-descalzos-y-ahora-triunfa-en-europa-article/
Salazar, D. (2021). La futbolista colombiana Leicy Santos se juega un partido aparte en los negocios. Bloomberg Línea. https://www.bloomberglinea.com/2021/11/26/la-futbolista-colombiana-leicy-santos-se-juega-un-partido-aparte-en-los-negocios/