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Goodbyes and great expectations

MUNICH, GERMANY – APRIL 21: Sandra Paños of Barcelona gestures during the UEFA Women’s Champions League semi final first Leg match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Barcelona at FC Bayern Campus on April 21, 2019 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Getty Images)

Not even beating the Blues (Chelsea) could take away our current blues. Time flies when you’re having fun, especially when fun includes triumphing with titles, mounting up medals, topping league tables, rending unbroken records, growing the game, finding the faith, and bleeding Blaugrana. Regarding Sandra Paños, whose impact over nine seasons with the FC Barcelona Femeni has proven to be immeasurable with influence, the goal sized hole that has crashed down upon Culers like a crater will certainly take a long time to heal. Two UEFA Women’s Champions League trophies, five fantastic Copa de la Reina feats, four Supercopa de España first place finishes, four Primera División dominating drives, not including individual and international accomplishments with her home country of Spain, Paños is a diamond in the rough.

Finding her footing at FC Barcelona after leaving Liga F’s Levante in 2015 aged 22, Paños has managed to maintain a measurable amount of minutes in net throughout many monumental managers, starting with Xavi Llorens, leading to Luís Cortés (who shepherded the squad to their first ever Champions League success in 2021) and darling “lil Jona” Jonatan Giráldez, who announced his approaching departure as well. Her statistics and superiority at Barcelona can be studied for days, but most notably as of the date this article is published (not yet having terminated the 2023-24 season), the list begins with 270 official matches, 24,154 minutes played, only conceding 12 goals in the 2017-18 season, a claimed UEFA Women’s Champions League goalkeeper of the season 2020-21, and Ballon D’or nominee. Another honor for the Barcelona badge is not just hardware, but bearing your brand as captain. Within the past nine seasons, legendary leaders such as Vicky Losada, Melanie Serrano, Alexia Putellas, Marta Torrejón, Patri Guijarro and Sandra Paños herself have held the highest standard as “Capitana.” In the 2023 UEFA Women’s Champions League final, Paños was the first goalkeeper to captain a winning UWCL side. Even better, Barcelona beat VfL Wolfsburg that game.

Left to Right: Sandra Paños, Alexia Putellas, Marta Torrejón, Patri Guijarro / Google

Both friends and followers found the news through social media on February 2nd, perhaps co-workers and colleagues knowing beforehand as part of the organizational plan. In a heartfelt, real and raw open letter, Paños made the decision to diverge her path from beloved Barcelona at the end of this year’s campaign at 30 years old. This includes pursuing other professional endeavors afterwards, perhaps playing overseas or in another league, perhaps restarting with a football role away from the football pitch. Only time will tell, but her time with FC Barcelona went extremely well, a legacy to last a lifetime. Always one of us. (Post translated below)

“After nine years defending the goal of the best team in the world, the time has come to end this stage.” Instagram