Only a handful of tables were occupied in the cellar bar of the Amman hotel; the atmosphere was muted and the lighting subdued. It was 9.45 pm, one hour ahead of Central European Time. TV screens suddenly flickered on and the UEFA Champions League hymn rang out around the bar. At that moment, the Spanish women’s U-17 squad entered the establishment, hurrying to take possession of vacant chairs and excitedly looking forward to the match of the day, Atletico Madrid versus Bayern Munich.
Lorena Navarro did not know it at that point, but she was about to experience a memorable and joyful few days. The club she supports proceeded to beat Bayern 1-0, and two days later, she almost singlehandedly propelled Spain to victory in their opening match of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup Jordan 2016.
“It’s by far and away the greatest footballing week of my life,” the delighted Spaniard told FIFA.com in the depths of Amman International Stadium, where, earlier on in the evening, she had scored five of La Rojita’s six goals against the luckless Jordanian hosts.
“We all watched the Atletico match together, and we celebrated the goal like crazy. And now, today, I go out and score five goals. I’m so happy; it’s the greatest performance of my life, especially as it took place at a World Cup. It’s my first-ever game at this level, and I scored five. It’s an incredible feeling, but we hope that there’ll be more wins to come, and that we can do even better,” continued the young striker, while firmly clasping the match ball.
Improving on a five-goal haul might seem difficult to imagine, or even to dream about. “Yesterday, I dreamt of simply winning the match,” said the CD Tacon player. “And if I could grab a goal, that would be a good day’s work. All we wanted to do was win our first match. In the end, it turned out much better than we had hoped for.”
So much better, in fact, that she has now joined the elite club of players who have scored five goals at FIFA-run tournaments, which includes legends of women’s football such as Michelle Akers and Christine Sinclair.
The Spanish goal machine, who will turn 16 in November, proved in her U-17 World Cup debut that she already had something in common with the aforementioned North American stars. “I think that, although you can work on it a lot, in the end some players are just born with a natural scoring instinct,” said Navarro, who demonstrated her own theory by opening the scoring with a header, despite being the shortest player in Spain’s starting line-up.
Her nose for goal has been evident ever since she began kicking a ball around at the age of three. “My brother played football, and I went to watch his games regularly. One day, I also started playing with the ball. And now I’ve pretty much become the best player in the family,” she said with a grin.
Would she be interested in one day transforming her passion into a profession? “In Spain, it’s still a bit difficult for a woman to make a living from football, but things are gradually changing,” said Navarro, an admirer of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero. “I hope that one day I can do it. And if I were able to do it in Spain, that would be even better.”
Of course, if she were to continue notching five goals per match, a professional career would become an absolute certainty. And perhaps one day crowds will gather in the bars of Amman to watch Navarro hitting the net in high-profile matches in Europe.