Torrejon: I hope we can host a World Cup one day
Record cap holder with Spanish women's national team
Will play in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals with Barcelona
Spain face Serbia (on 24 November) and Austria (28 November) in France 2019 qualifying** **
Much has changed for Marta Torrejon since she started kicking a football around in the school playground, with the Spain captain now preparing to lead her side out in a FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019™ European qualifying double-header against Serbia and Austria.
The Barcelona player already has her name in the record books with La Roja, but is nevertheless determined to continue to "grow", a term she uses often in this exclusive chat with FIFA.com.
Marta Torrejon fact file
Clubs: Espanyol (2001-2013), Barcelona (2013-present)
Honours: Spanish championship (three times), Copa de la Reina (five times), Copa del Algarve (once)
Education: Degree in biology
"The World Cup in France will be a great tournament," she said ahead of her team's upcoming qualifiers. "Irene says they're all happy over there and the preparations are going really well. We want to be there too. It was amazing to go to Canada 2015 and it whet our appetite to go back and do better.
"France will be really well prepared," Torrejon continued. "They've got some of the best individual players in the world in every position, but they haven't gelled collectively at big tournaments. That said, as hosts they'll be eager to make an impression. It must be wonderful to experience a World Cup in your own country. I hope we can host one here one day. It'd be wonderful."
Spain learned a vital lesson at the UEFA Women's EURO 2017, where they lost to Austria on penalties in the quarter-finals: "We didn't score. We played well and dominated possession but we couldn't put our chances away. We weren't single-minded enough, as I always say. But I think we're on the right track and we have to keep working hard and believing in what we're doing."
There are still two more years before the finals are held and given the rapid pace of development in the women's game, it is difficult to make predictions. For instance, ten years ago who would have guessed that Torrejon would set a new record with the women's national team?
With 78 international caps to her name, she has made more appearances for Spain than any other player.
"It's an honour," she said of the achievement. "I'm very happy and proud. I couldn't have done it without the support of my clubs and the trust of my coaches. But that record will soon be broken. It took me ten years to get there because when I started out we didn't play very many international matches. But that's good, it's a sign that the game is growing."
Indeed, it has grown to the extent that the Spanish league has become an attractive destination in just a few years, with Barcelona making some of the biggest signings this season - including Lieke Martens, winner of The Best FIFA Women's Player 2017 award.
"She's a very down-to-earth, laid-back and charming girl," Torrejon said of her club-mate. "And out on the pitch, what can I say? She's very young and possesses an incredible ability to take on and beat an opponent. And she can still achieve so much. It's a pleasure to have her in the team. On top of that, I go up against her in training and have to try and stop her. Facing a player who causes you problems is a good thing because it makes you grow and learn a lot."
Local players improve when foreign stars are signed. It sets off a chain reaction, as their arrival makes the league better and more attractive to fans, while national teams develop as they have more complete and competitive players to choose from. All of which is a far cry from the backdrop that existed when Torrejon made her Spanish Superliga debut at the age of 14 with Espanyol.*
"I find it all incredible," she said. "Things are completely different now to when I started, in every sense. The national team gets better every year: there are more coaching staff, better physical training, more friendly matches. There's also more media attention, more publicity and more interest. We have to keep moving forward, even it's only little by little. Women's football is constantly developing and nothing should slow it down."
**Congratulations little sister! Keep going because you've got to get even more. Marco Torrejon, Marta's brother, who currently plays for Union Berlin following spells at Freiburg, Kaiserslautern, Racing Santander and Espanyol.