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FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup

Mexico’s Perez looking nowhere but forward

(FIFA.com)
Nicole Perez of Mexico poses with adidas Silver Ball Award
© Getty Images
  • Nicole Perez speaks after loss to Spain
  • Mexican reflects on final defeat but is already looking forward
  • Perez: "We need to work to win trophies"

Nicole Perez’s eyes might be red but she has not lost her composure. Her words convey the same sense of clarity and vision that she displayed on the pitch throughout the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Uruguay 2018.

Though defeat to Spain was all too fresh in the memory, Perez, who picked up the adidas Silver Ball as the tournament’s second best player, was still able to analyse the reasons why Mexico came up short: “We gave the first half away and we knew it. In the second we were more like the Mexico of previous games but it wasn’t enough.

“When all’s said and done, though, you have to realise who we were up against,” added the Tri captain, in conversation with FIFA.com. “It was a great Spain side and we have to congratulate them.”

© Getty Images

The pain of having come so close did not prevent Perez from seeing the glass half full: “Everyone’s feeling pretty down right now, but we know we’ve done some good things in this tournament.”

Recalling a few of them, she added: “We managed comebacks against some big teams, we gave a good account of ourselves, and we made history for Mexican women’s football.

“I’m very proud of all the girls, though I know that we have to work harder to get back into this situation and deserve a trophy.”

Praising the work of head coach Monica Vergara and her backroom staff, she said: “They’ve made us better people on and off the pitch. All we can do from here on in is keep looking forward.”

And in doing just that Perez is setting her sights on the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2020: “Football does give you payback, I’m certain of that. In a couple of years’ time I think we’re going to be in a much better position to reach a final and win it.”

© Getty Images

Nicole’s numbers

  • 540: Perez was one of four Mexico players who spent every single minute of their Uruguay 2018 matches on the pitch
  • 4: with three goals and one assist, she was involved in four of the six goals that El Tri scored (66.66%)
  • 3: she won three player of the match awards out of Mexico’s six matches

Nicole and…

The adidas Silver Ball: “I’m delighted to be walking away with it, but I’m going to share it with all my team-mates.”

The bandage on her left wrist: “It says ‘Pali’. It’s for a friend who made the squad but couldn’t come in the end. And here it says ‘M.M.G’, and it’s for a friend who died a little while ago and who was very important to me. I dedicate all of this to them and my family.”