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Spain's Olga Carmona learned her father had died after she won the Women's World Cup

Spain's Olga Carmona points to the message she had written on her undershirt to honor the death of one of her best friend's mother after scoring what would be the only goal in the match against England on Sunday. Carmona later learned that her father had died before the final match.
William West
/
AFP via Getty Images
Spain's Olga Carmona points to the message she had written on her undershirt to honor the death of one of her best friend's mother after scoring what would be the only goal in the match against England on Sunday. Carmona later learned that her father had died before the final match.

Olga Carmona scored the only goal in Spain's win over England in the Women's World Cup final. She found the net with a perfectly placed shot in the 29th minute on Sunday, giving Spain its first ever Women's World Cup championship.

Just after scoring, Carmona, a 23-year-old fullback for Real Madrid, lifted her jersey to show a word scrawled on her undershirt: "Merchi." She later explained that the message was in honor of the mother of one of her best friends who had recently died, and she dedicated the team's victory to their family.

Unknown to Carmona was that her own father had also died.

"And without knowing it, I had my Star before the game started. I know that you have given me the strength to achieve something unique. I know that you have been watching me tonight and that you are proud of me. Rest in peace, papá," Carmona wrote on social media on Sunday.

For each World Cup title, a star is added above the crest on a national team's jersey.

The Spanish Football Federation said that Carmona learned the sad news after the game, but offered no details of her father's passing. "We stand with you, Olga; you hold a significant place in the history of Spanish football," the federation wrote.

Relevo, a Spanish news outlet, reported that Carmona's family and friends had not told her the news before the match, in order to not influence her state of mind. Her mother and siblings were present for Spain's victory in the final in Sydney, Relevo reported; they had previously returned to Spain after the group stage.

A spokesperson for Spain's federation told Reuters that Carmona's father died on Friday after a long illness.

Carmona also blasted in the game-winning goal in Spain's semifinal win over Sweden.

The Spanish team will revel in its victory with a public celebration on Monday in Madrid, at the same esplanade where the country toasted its victorious men's team after the 2010 World Cup.

On Monday, Carmona reflected on her win and her loss.

"Yesterday was the best and the worst day of my life," Carmona wrote on social media. "I know that you would like to see me enjoy this historic moment, that is why I will be with my teammates, so from wherever you are know that this star is also yours, papá."

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Laurel Wamsley is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She reports breaking news for NPR's digital coverage, newscasts, and news magazines, as well as occasional features. She was also the lead reporter for NPR's coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup in France.