Linda Caicedo: From cancer to World Cup

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Colombia´s forward #18 Linda Caicedo celebrates scoring her team´s second goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women´s World Cup Group H football match between Colombia and South Korea at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney on July 25, 2023.—AFP
Colombia´s forward #18 Linda Caicedo celebrates scoring her team´s second goal during the Australia and New Zealand 2023 Women´s World Cup Group H football match between Colombia and South Korea at Sydney Football Stadium in Sydney on July 25, 2023.—AFP 

Linda Caicedo has emerged as a breakout star of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. While her on-field talent has garnered widespread attention, her remarkable journey off the pitch is what truly sets her apart. 

At just 18 years old, Caicedo has already experienced a professional and international debut at 14, a cancer diagnosis at 15, and a move to one of the most renowned clubs in the world, Real Madrid.

Caicedo’s latest triumph came during the tournament in Brisbane, where she delivered a skillful goal from the left wing, securing Colombia’s victory against South Korea in their opening match. At 18 years and 153 days, she became the second-youngest South American player to score a goal in the Women’s World Cup history, following in the footsteps of the legendary Brazilian player Marta.

Her journey to success has been marked by resilience and dedication. Hailing from a humble background in Candelaria, Colombia, Caicedo never forgets the sacrifices that have brought her to this point. Recently, she returned to Candelaria to donate 100 grocery bags of food to those in need, emphasising her commitment to giving back to her community.

Caicedo’s promising career took a detour when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the Covid-19 pandemic at the age of 15. After undergoing surgery to remove a tumour and enduring six months of chemotherapy, she bravely fought her way back to the field, determined to continue her football journey. Supported by her family and national coach Nelson Abadia, she made a remarkable recovery and reclaimed her place in Deportivo Cali and the Colombian national team.

Her talent and dedication have earned her a spot at Real Madrid, where she joined a league of experienced players. Despite her young age, Caicedo recognises that she still has much to learn and grow in her career. She embraces the opportunities to gain experience and improve her skills, mainly as she competes in her first senior World Cup.

Recently, there were concerns about her health during a training session when she appeared to experience discomfort. However, she was later confirmed to be in good spirits and will continue to showcase her extraordinary talent on the field.

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