Spain full-back Celia Jimenez is a qualified aerospace engineer
La Roja face USA in last 16, the nation where Jimenez plays club football
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Everyone had a preferred game or toy during their childhood, but not all enjoyed designing and dismantling things as much as Spain’s Celia Jimenez. “When I saw a cereal box I would envisage a car, and I always wanted to know what a tumble dryer looked like from the inside, including its microchips, cables and stuff,” she said. “Rotary-dial phones were my favourite.”
It was a hobby that often had repercussions, however. “I took apart a lot of things at home, and while I did put some of them back together, I must admit that others, well… let’s just say that my mum and me often had a row!” she continued, laughing.
At Christmas time, Santa Claus would bring her battery-powered motorbikes, telescopes, or a remote-controlled plane that crash-landed on its second flight.
“I promise I can make them fly now,” said Jimenez with a smile, coming closer to the FIFA.com tape recorder to emphasise the point.
Because, despite having recently just turned 24, the reliable right full-back has managed to channel both her passions and exercise them at the highest level: she is not only an aerospace engineer, but a professional footballer in the NWSL (USA).
As a full Spain international since 2014 and a starter in the Seattle Reign rearguard, where she rubs shoulders with Megan Rapinoe, she is well placed to talk about the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ last-16 duel between her country and the defending world champions on Monday.
“It’s likely to be a great battle against the world champions. It’ll be tough, but we’re a team that, when faced with daunting challenges, steps up a gear. We tend to elevate ourselves in difficult situations, and the fact we’re playing such a vastly experienced and successful USA team will only provide us with extra motivation.”
“We’re going to fight for every ball and every blade of grass, but we’re also going to be hungry to score goals. It’ll be an intriguing match. The most important thing is that we focus on maintaining our usual style of play. If all of our players can give 100 per cent, we could end up having a big say in this game.”
Will there be a friendly exchange of text messages with Rapinoe? Jimenez laughed. “I’m sure I’ll hesitate to do it, and she’ll be exactly the same.” The two players enjoy a good relationship, and the Spaniard is an admirer of the US star’s commitment and refusal to conform.
“She’s helped me a lot during video sessions, offering me advice. She’s always been there for me. She has a huge amount of experience and although she has proven that she’s one of the best in the world, she continues to try to improve her game, which is both ground-breaking and different.”
Every year, the NWSL, which is made up of just nine teams, drafts in 40 players from the thousands of students who play football at university level in the USA. In 2018, Jimenez made history by becoming the first University of Alabama attendee to make the list.
“I was at home watching the ceremony, and I wanted them to say my name, but I didn’t have any idea because it’s completely secret,” she explained. “When I heard it, everything went a bit hazy, and I had tears in my eyes. It was a very special moment!”
Fans interested in attending the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 can still purchase tickets for the tournament via www.fifa.com/tickets, as well as via ticket booths located at stadia for remaining matches still available to the general public.