When her representative, Carlota Planas, told her in January “you are going to play in the World Cup”, Cata Coll laughed, as she always does, and replied: “What do you say? You are crazy?”. She hadn’t played for eleven months, due to that ‘cursed’ injury that is already a nightmare in women’s football, the rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament. She ended her contract with FC Barcelona in June and her future was a mystery. Sandra Paños was having a great season, Gemma Font was more than fulfilling as a substitute and in the national team Misa Rodríguez had taken over the goal. Although she was in the final stretch of the recovery process, which lasted until March, she did not know when or, above all, how she was going to return.
It was then that, in a cafeteria in Sant Joan Despí, near the Sports City of the Barça club, Carlota asked him: “What do you want?” “I? To be the first goalkeeper for Barça and the national team,” Cata replied. “Well, it’s now or never.” And they made a plan together.
It is difficult to motivate a footballer at a time when she knows that she is not going to play almost nothing with her team. Neither the League, almost, much less the Champions League, which were already quarterfinal times. If she set herself a long-term goal, she was going to lose focus. It was a plan of small objectives. To go step by step to reach the final goal. First, the renewal with Barcelona, which came at the best moment and was a shot of confidence. “When they told me ‘we want to renew you, we want you here’, and I still hadn’t returned, I saw that they were betting on me, that they wanted me to stay and that meant something,” says the goalkeeper, “I had to work hard to restore their confidence ».
It was key, for Barça, to see a Cata with more ambition and desire to win the position than ever. «She began to take care of her diet, with a nutritionist, to work on her mind with the help of a psychologist, to train on days off… Basically, to work to control everything that is in her hands», Carlota explains, « because, in the end, the decision of a coach cannot be controlled.
On March 17 he played again. He played a few minutes against Valencia. Later he completed two full matches, against Alhama and Sporting Huelva. And, with 196 minutes played throughout the season, the call came from Jorge Vilda, who already knew her well from the lower categories -with the under-17s she was World and European champion in 2018 and Gold Glove-.
Cata landed in New Zealand assuming that she was not going to play, that she was behind Misa Rodríguez, along with Enith Salón, and she took it as “a personal preseason to get to the top of Barça.”
Until, overnight, one day everything changed. Without notifying anyone, or any of those involved, Jorge Vilda decided to make a change in goal for the duel against Switzerland. Cata Coll made her senior debut and did it in a big way, in the round of 16 of a World Cup.
She conceded an own goal -great goal- by Laia Codina, who did not notice that she was too far ahead. Far from sinking, and on the day of her debut, she brought out all her character and starred in a great performance under the sticks, which was repeated against the Netherlands, in the quarterfinals, and against Sweden, in the semifinals. Against the Scandinavians, in fact, she was one of the great protagonists. She, then, took out her saving hand on three occasions to avoid a very different outcome. And Carlota sees her on television and gets excited as if she were a daughter. “The plan, huh!”
When Cata dedicates herself to playing the ball with her feet under pressure from a rival striker and dribbling it, she can drive those who don’t know her crazy. Those of us who do know that she has always done it, that she is very calm and confident, and that she will continue to do it, “of course.”