Reflecting on Sonia Bermúdez's Legacy for Club and Country
As of last week, Sonia Bermúdez's goalscoring records have been broken for both the Spanish women's national team and for FCB Femení. Jennifer Hermoso's hat trick against Moldova in November pushed her ahead of Bermúdez to become the second-highest Spain women's national team scorer. The following week, a poker against Santa Teresa last week propelled Jenni up to 125 goals for Barcelona in official competitions, making her Barcelona’s all-time top scorer and passing Sonia's record of that had been held for half a decade.
Bermúdez celebrating a goal
Out of Sonia's two-decades-long senior career, she spent four of those years at FC Barcelona. In those four seasons, Bermúdez was at the forefront of one of the most dominant, trailblazing eras of FCB Femenís history so far, in what could be considered their first Golden Era. Her 38 league goals in the 2011-12 campaign set the stage for Barcelona to win their first league title in the club's history, only a few years after they were relegated to the Second Division. This first league title win also prompted the club’s entry to the UEFA Women’s Champions League in which Sonia scored one of Barcelona’s first goals. Overall, she scored a staggering 123 goals in official competitions for the club, and ended up winning the Pichichi as the league's top scorer in every season she was at Barcelona. That record of four Pichichis also ended up being tied by Jenni Hermoso only a few months ago upon the completion of the 2019-20 league season.
Jenni and Sonia celebrating their 2014-15 league title
For Spain, the forward has a dissimilar story. She made her national team debut in 2008 when Spain’s women's national football team was in a situation nothing close to ideal. La Roja were victims of poor planning and deprioritization, complete with an inadequate coach and neglect from their federation. It was her generation of footballers that turned around Spain's luck in major international competitions and ushered in these new accomplishments despite innumerable roadblocks.
Bermúdez was a frequent starter in the Spain national team squad of 2013, who made history by qualifying for Spain's first EURO in 16 years, and the 2015 squad where Spain qualified for their first ever Women's World Cup. Although each of these campaigns were short-lived, they set a new precedent for women's football in Spain that they were ready to prove themselves on an international stage.
Like most of Spain's internationals of this era, most if not all of her international goals came in qualifying matches. This may not seem like much, but considering the players of her era had never qualified for any major international tournament before 2013, these goals were invaluable to the team's progression. One of her most notable goals includes a 2-0 World Cup 2015 qualifying win against Italy that pushed Spain three points ahead to the top of the table. Bermúdez is also a free-kick specialist, with one of her most memorable national team goals being a 30-yard curler against Macedonia.
Off the pitch, Sonia continued her trailblazing career by being open about her working conditions as a female footballer. After Spain's heartbreaking group-stage exit in the 2015 Women's World Cup, she was only one of the few players to individually speak to the media about ousting former national team manager Ignacio Quereda.
After the Spanish women's national team unified to oust Quereda, Sonia told AS:
"The time has come. We’ve been in fear for many years and holding a lot back. We have nothing against the RFEF or the President but we asked for a change because we needed it… we hope the Federation will listen to us and find a solution. It’s not in our minds that he might stay. At least, that’s the hope we have.”
Her national team career essentially ended in 2017, when she failed to make the cut for that year's Euro squad. Bermúdez retired from the national team with 34 goals, the second-most of all time behind Veronica Boquete until Jenni passed her in qualifying against Moldova.
Luis Rubiales presents Bermúdez with a shirt commemorating her national team caps
Her retirement from the national team coincided with the downswing of her career. After Sonia left Barcelona, she went to Atlético Madrid where she picked up another two league titles and a Copa de la Reina. The forward ended her career this past May at 35 years old after spending two seasons at Levante. The Spaniard retired with a trophy cabinet of nine league titles and four Copas de la Reina under her belt, alongside an array of records, milestones, and accomplishments. Bermúdez may not hold any more scoring records for club or country, but her achievements will make her go down as one of the most monumental women's footballers in Spain's history.