A creative force with the finishing ability to match, Spanish international Verónica Boquete became a Damallsvenskan champion with Swedish team Tyresö FF in 2012 and on-field success has been supplemented by a distinct connection to her surroundings.
The former Philadelphia Independence standout can play in an attacking midfield role or further forward and at 25 she has already sealed her status as one of the very leading lights in the Spanish national team. Santiago de Compostela-born ‘Vero’ as she is known, kindly gave this interview in English despite not feeling 100% confident yet in her ability in this language, but she did a very commendable job.
When we discussed music we talked about how it can help to bridge the gaps that are created by linguistic differences and as much as the songs of Jennifer Lopez, Big Pun and one from the Scarface soundtrack (Maria Conchita) have helped me with my Spanish, Vero has found similar learning possibilities in English-speaking artists’ material!
“I like the songs in English and I try to understand and find the lyrics. Coldplay, U2, James Blunt – they help me with the English!’’
Any method that can be used to help someone to successfully immerse themselves in an unfamiliar language is surely a positive step to take. Significant areas of the world communicate in English and Spanish of course and besides music, Vero was able to improve her ability in the former during the time she spent in the United States with Philadelphia Independence in 2011 who were then competing in the Women’s Professional Soccer league before it went on to fold. She had also previously represented fellow WPS team Chicago Red Stars as well as Buffalo Flash in the W-League where she won the division in 2010.
Her stay in Philadelphia would arguably be the most memorable and noteworthy of her time in the US though and while turning out for the 2011 WPS finalists she impressed many, so much so that she was named the Michelle Akers WPS Player of the Year (named after the FIFA Female Player of the Century). That individual accolade and chapter in her career preceded her move to FC Energiya Voronezh in Russia of the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
Last year also saw her make the switch to Sweden with Tyresö FF and it would prove to be a shrewd move as Vero won the Damallsvenskan, rated as one of the world’s leading female football divisions, in her first season with the club. The success was secured in November as Swedish international Madelaine Edlund’s late goal away to previous champions Malmö was enough for a 1-0 win. It was Tyresö’s first Damallsvenskan title and the culmination of a rise through the divisions in the last few years.
For Vero the glory was magnificent to enjoy with her teammates but she had already stumbled across the perfect way to impress them when taking on the ever-popular task of singing in front of them!
“One time I did sing and it was amazing – in pre-season with Tyresö. I sang the Swedish national anthem and I still remember the words today!’’
Tyresö have US players in their ranks with forward Christen Press (a new signing from Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC) and defender Meghan Klingenberg, and it was certainly an all-American choice for Vero when she looked back on the first record she ever bought!
“It was Backstreet Boys and I was around nine maybe. I don’t remember exactly but in this moment they were the best!
“I really listen to all kinds of music now, but especially international and Spanish pop and Spanish songwriters. I like La Fuga, Coldplay, Quique González, Iván Ferreiro, the songs that are in vogue at that moment, I just listen and if I like, perfect!’’
As she said, Vero gave her own rendition of the Swedish national anthem and when the conversation reached the subject of her Tyresö colleagues’ individual music tastes it was the homegrown players she gave mentions to, for good and for bad reasons!
“I liked the songs that Lisa Klinga put on; sometimes they were in Spanish language. Also, Caroline Seger has good music taste, and the worst… maybe Karin Lissel!’’
The top scorer in the Spanish Superliga in 2010/11 with an outstanding 41 goals in 29 games with Espanyol, Vero made her international debut in 2005 and was the hero as Spain beat Scotland in October to qualify for Euro 2013. She offers an insight into the mood and music of the Spanish dressing room and how these two elements can connect with each other.
“We can’t be in the locker room without high music – reggaeton, Spanish songs, international. Also we dance; not so much if we lose, but if we win, sure!’’
There was also one of Vero’s Spanish teammates, a defender, who she remembers for one of her off-field displays during their time together at club level for all the right reasons.
“Olga Moreno in the RCD Espanyol, she sang so good. It was a Spanish singer Monica Naranjo who she sometimes sang and she was amazing!’’
Vero is undoubtedly a star in the Spanish national team and she will be lining up against England, France and Russia in the group stage of Euro 2013 in Sweden in July. Her goal after an earlier missed penalty was the winner for Ignacio Quereda’s La Roja as they defeated Scotland right at the end of extra-time to win 3-2 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate in Madrid to seal qualification.
It will be Spain’s first time at the European Championships since 1997 and despite the huge success of the men’s national team it has been much more difficult for the women’s team who have never qualified for the World Cup or the Olympics. While their male counterparts are Euro 2008, World Cup 2010 and Euro 2012 champions, there is no fair comparison to be made with the women’s team due to the lack of resources and Vero gives her view on the struggles. She also looks forward to the chance to pull on the Spanish shirt in a major tournament this year and names the Rayo Vallecano midfielder / forward who she thinks will catch the eye in Euro 2013.
“It was our dream and we will be in the Euros but women’s football in Spain is in a very precarious situation. Socially we do not have the respect we deserve and we cannot compete economically with other countries.
“It is step by step and slowly, but we will continue to advance. Jennifer Hermoso can play a great Euro 2013, she is very talented and you will see.’’
Two Spanish names that have featured in the FA Women’s Super League here in England are forward Laura Del Río of Bristol Academy and Adriana Martín who came in to join Chelsea Ladies last season. If Vero happens to seek a new challenge one day I am sure the English game could benefit significantly from her talents, but what does she think to the idea at some point in the future?
“I would be delighted! I always liked how you live for football in England and each time the women’s league is getting better.
“Maybe in the future bring me to England. I was just in London and Bristol, I need to go back and to visit more!’’
It should be said that they will want to hold on to Vero in Tyresö after the team success of 2012 which also saw her receive the recognition of Damallsvenskan Midfielder of the Year. It always helps to have quality in the team like five-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta, but it was a collective effort for Tyresö to lift the title last season and Vero looks back on that as well as how she has settled in to life in Stockholm County.
“In the beginning of the season we had a clear goal, to fight for all the titles, but winning the league was the most important. Personally, I came here to do that, to win titles, to win the league and to go to the Champions League.
“Both for me and for the team, winning was a liberation and a satisfaction. We really needed to win.
“To live here is good, I like the people, and the country, but not in winter! I have a quiet life focused on soccer.’’
Away from her immediate on-field duties, Vero runs her own football camp back home in Galicia and she continues to help the women’s game in Spain move forward despite certain constraints. Her list of career trophies also includes two Spanish Cups (Copa de la Reina), the Copa de Catalunya and the UEFA European Women’s Under-19 Championship in 2004, and as always I asked her to choose the best players she has worked with in the game so far.
The way this works is for her to select a team of five players including herself and she went with two US internationals for her backline. In front of this duo she chose a prominent Swedish midfielder mentioned earlier as well as a forward that nobody will be surprised to see in there!
“Goalkeeper – Nicole Barnhart, because she was the keeper that most impressed me.
Defender – Whitney Engen, I loved to play and practice with her in Chicago.
“Midfielder – Caroline Seger, we see and understand the same about football. We just need a look and to play with her is a pleasure.
“Striker – Marta, she was always my reference and playing with her is a unique opportunity.’’
Follow me on Twitter and catch each of these interviews: @chris_brookes