The Spurs star opens up on her early transition to English football and her goals for both club and country.
As a young teenager, Lucía León uprooted her life and moved from Madrid to London in a bid to follow her dream of professional football.
Since then, Tottenham Hotspur has been her only senior club during a journey that has seen the Spaniard rise from amateur to the world stage.
After her move, the physicality of English football wasn’t the only change León had to adjust to.
“I didn’t speak any English when I first came here,” the defender told Her Football Hub. “The transition was very tough, but football is a worldwide language, people understand that anywhere.
“Training was my relax time. I didn’t have to think about barriers, I could just focus on my football. But it was quite tough. I couldn’t communicate with anyone apart from when I was on the pitch with the ball.
Football is a worldwide language.Lucía León
It’s globally accepted that Spanish football is a fast-paced passing game compared to it’s sometimes brutal English counterpart. As a young player soaking up the game, León found herself learning a different way to her compatriots.
“The game is a lot more physical [in England], with more running. In Spain, We tend to concentrate on the passing and making the ball move rather than us as a player.”
Whilst representing Spain U23s, it became evident that León’s development in London had set a different style of football to her native country.
“The work with the ball was intense, I think I was the most aggressive in terms of physical contact but obviously that’s what I’ve picked up. You have to be strong – strong in tackles, strong off the ball, strong with everything.”
“We [Tottenham] played two Spanish teams last year in the summer, they were really physical and looked aggressive too and that surprised me, so maybe the Spanish women’s game is changing and growing now too.”
Becoming a Professional with Spurs
León’s story of growth and progression mirrors that of Spurs. When she first joined the club, the London outfit were in the National League with just one goal in mind.
Both club and player wanted to turn professional and fight their way into the Women’s Super League. They achieved this together following Tottenham’s promotion in 2019.
The 22-year-old described how it felt when she was given her first pro contract.
“Huge. Massive. In terms of training, workload and field training. I can’t explain the difference,” she reflected.
“The strength and conditioning this season has been so much more of a focus than in previous seasons now we can train full-time.”
“My body was in shock at first. Now though, I’m mentally and physically stronger. The team changed a lot and the new players that came in were really experienced and they knew I could do more so they would push me.
“I’ll always push myself but when someone else is pushing you it’s different.”
The Ultimate Dream
León makes no secret of her desire to pull on the jersey of the senior Spanish national side, and it’s evident she knows how to make it happen.
“That’s my dream, apart from my club dream which is to get as many WSL minutes as I can with Tottenham.
“Obviously, I’ve seen the club grow, everything that we’ve achieved since I came here has been amazing and the men’s side has been very helpful in terms of that.”
Looking forward, no one can deny the progress made at Tottenham Women has been anything short of magical. However, it’s all be down to hard work and determination.
“We’ve got so much more to offer and we’re very excited for the seasons ahead,” León reflected. “Everyone that comes to the club can feel the vibe that we have here around us and I think that’s key to being successful.”