Aitana Bonmatí, the shining star in the heart of the Barcelona Femení midfield over the last twelve months, has been recognised by FIFA as The Best Women’s Player in 2023, at an awards ceremony in London.
Born less than fifty kilometres from the world-renowned Camp Nou, it was perhaps written in the stars that Bonmatí would join the likes of Lionel Messi and Alexia Putellas as the only Barcelona players to have ever lifted this illustrious award. With Putellas’ recent dominance brought to an end by an ACL injury that caused her to miss out on the majority of the 2022/23 season, Bonmatí’s success ensures the trophy remains in Catalunya for a third consecutive year.
The trophy room
The midfielder lifted almost every accolade possible last year, only missing out on the Copa de la Reina after Barcelona fielded an ineligible player. With her club, Bonmatí celebrated winning the Liga F title, alongside the Supercopa de España and the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
With the Spanish national team, Bonmatí played an influential role as la Roja lifted their first FIFA Women’s World Cup title. Her international colleague, Jenni Hermoso, was also nominated for the FIFA The Best Women’s Player award – ultimately falling short.Embed from Getty Images
But it should come as no surprise that it is Bonmatí being heralded in Hammersmith, lighting up a dull and dreary evening in West London as she claims yet another personal accolade to add to her ever growing collection.
After a sensational 2022/23 campaign that saw her step into the void left by Alexia Putellas’ ACL injury, Bonmatí was named by UEFA as both their Women’s Player of the Year, and also as the UEFA Women’s Champions League Player of the Year.
On the global stage, she lifted the FIFA Women’s World Cup Golden Ball, awarded to the best player at the tournament, before then being awarded the Ballon d’or Féminin by France Football in October.
Alongside being hailed as the world’s best, Bonmatí dedicates time to fighting for sociopolitical change in her native Catalunya and across the world. Taking inspiration from her parents who worked as professors of Catalan language and literature, the Barcelona midfielder works alongside Plataforma per la Llengua, campaigning for her mother tongue to be recognised as an official working language by the European Union.
It is clear that Bonmatí has never forgotten her humble roots, hailing from the small town of Vilanova i la Geltrú in the depths of Catalunya. Her parents were notable figures in the fight against enforced Spanish naming standards, and in her Ballon d’Or acceptance speech, Bonmatí said that she carries ‘that fight and resistance’ in her blood.
Bonmatí is also remarkably well-equipped for when the time comes to draw the curtains on her incredibly successful career, having graduated from one of Barcelona’s most prestigious universities with a degree in Sports Science. She has since gone on to commence a masters degree in Sports Management, as she seems set to remain in sport beyond her retirement from playing.
‘I am proud to be part of a generation of women who are changing the rules‘
Accepting the award, Bonmatí said: ‘A couple of weeks ago when 2023 came to an end , I was nostalgic because it’s been an exceptional and unique year that I will remember for all my life. Starting out 2024 by collecting this award is something I’m very proud of but as I’ve said before, I owe this award to all the teams I’ve played with.’
‘I will always be thankful for those of you who never fail me: my family, my friends and everyone who has supported me. Finally, I would like to congratulate all the nominees and I am proud to be part of a generation of women who are changing the rules of the game and the world.’