Nearly three years removed from overcoming a battle with cancer, 18-year-old Linda Caicedo grabbed the spotlight on her FIFA Women’s World Cup debut on Monday with an inspiring goal against South Korea.
The teenage phenom stepped onto the pitch representing his native Colombia on the sport’s biggest stage for the first time in his young career and quickly delighted the fans inside Australia’s Allianz Stadium.
Caicedo, who rose to fame after an ovarian cancer diagnosis at the age of 15, showed his blazing speed with an impressive individual effort to put Colombia up 2-0.
Caicedo’s goal to double Colombia’s lead added an impressive stamp to the star forward’s World Cup debut. Monday’s match also carries further historical implications for Caicedo as she is now the first woman in the tournament to play in the U-17 World Cup, U-20 World Cup and FIFA World Cup in one year.
Fantastic individual effort by Linda Caicedo to score her first FIFA Women’s World Cup goal 🇨🇴 pic.twitter.com/CLzCwG2DXq
– FOX Soccer (@FOXSoccer) July 25, 2023
A child prodigy who started playing at the age of five, Caicedo’s journey to the World Cup included a stunning debut at the age of 14 for the Colombian professional team América de Cali. However, in early 2020, his career appeared to be in jeopardy following his diagnosis. After a seven-month battle, Caicedo was declared cancer-free and finally resumed playing.
A member of the Colombian senior national team since 2019, Caicedo is now aiming to lead his country to glory after producing a Golden Ball-winning effort to help Colombia secure a World Cup after Brazil’s final loss in the Copa América.
“I’m an example that you can take from that and overcome it,” Caicedo said of his journey ahead of the World Cup.
With efforts like Monday’s goal, it’s easy to see why Caicedo, a player known as the “Colombian Neymar,” is being touted as one of the young stars to watch at this year’s Women’s World Cup. And, judging by the reactions from soccer fans online, the new star has already gained more than a few more supporters:
18-YEAR-OLD LINDA CAICEDO SCORES IN HER WORLD CUP DEBUT 🤯🇨🇴
HE HAS ARRIVED! pic.twitter.com/LaWMBvDY6s
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) July 25, 2023
— Sarah Spain 💙 (@SarahSpain) July 25, 2023
Me at 18: burned a potholder because I left it near the stove
Linda Caicedo at 18:
— Lesley Ryder 🇵🇷 (@RyderReally) July 25, 2023
– DAZN Football (@DAZNFootball) July 25, 2023
The 18 year old 🔥😤 https://t.co/9aSkM20wZH
— Reagan Gomez (@ReaganGomez) July 25, 2023