Not many players choose to leave Barcelona on multiple occasions.
Vicky Losada has done just that – three times to be precise – with each of her exits marking a symbolic step in the growth of Barcelona's women's team.
After progressing through the club's esteemed La Masia academy, Losada first left Barcelona in 2007 following their relegation to the second tier.
They bounced straight back and Losada returned the following season. However, with the club not becoming a professional outfit until summer 2015, Losada left to join Arsenal in March of that year. She came back for her third bite of the Barca cherry 20 months later.
"I went abroad to be professional and I came back to a club that was professional," Losada told 90min.
The midfielder emotionally announced her departure from Barcelona for a third time in June 2021; a little over a fortnight after she had captained the club to their maiden Champions League title.
"I think it was the perfect way," she explains. "Winning the Champions League helped me because it was my dream to do it defending those colours. As a footballer and with such a long career you know when you’re [at] an end of a cycle.
"I think that was my time to go, and I was never expecting that good bye and all the love from all the fans, and I was never expecting how much women’s football was going to grow. I actually still look at photos and feel so lucky that I’ve lived through that in my career."
Some of the most iconic pictures from that famous night in Gothenburg are of Losada; Champions League trophy clasped in her hand and nets draped around her shoulders like a scarf.
"When I was growing up I couldn’t watch women’s football because they weren’t showing it on TV, so my dreams came from the men’s football," Losada says. "So I always remember [Gerard] Pique taking the nets with Barca, and you just want to be like that when you win.
"It was a great moment to take a bit of the net – I mean I think we nearly took all of it… I have just a little piece at home. I feel so lucky how everything ended and everything that Barca has given me."
A post shared by Vicky Losada (@losada_vicky)
Barcelona's achievements during the 2020/21 season had been years in the making. Since turning professional, the club's philosophy has been to invest in their crop of first team and academy players; Losada was one of nine La Masia graduates in the squad for Barcelona's 2020/21 Champions League triumph.
This approach did not garner success overnight.
Barcelona finished as league runners up to Atletico Madrid four years on the bounce, and were beaten 4-1 by Lyon in the 2019 Champions League final.
But the club stormed to the treble in 2021, securing European glory with a devastating 4-0 victory over Chelsea. And all while playing the Barcelona way.
"Even at the very start we used to play against Wolfsburg, Lyon, all the big, big teams in Europe. And we never lost our identity of that loving the game, showing the beautiful football, but we were just not ready," Losada says. "We had dreams that then on the pitch we couldn’t achieve.
"In the end we [went] from a team with dreams to a winning team. Just a machine of winning games, and the way we were doing it, for me, I think is what made it very special.
"It didn’t really change when we were making substitutions, the style was there. A lot of players were from La Masia and it was just an amazing moment; I think it is really, really hard that that happens again the same way."
Losada had previously voiced her intention to retire at Barcelona, but she was tempted away from her childhood club by Manchester City and the challenge of the WSL.
"When I left Arsenal, I never wanted to leave because I was giving really good performances and I knew the league was going to make me better because of the players," she adds. "The commitment and everything that was going on here was amazing. But I wanted to come back to my home and be part of that process that I believed was going to take us to win the Champions League – and that’s what happened.
"I think life in the end brought me back here and I can say again now that the investment from TV, marketing revenues, everyone – the women’s football is just amazing."
Losada's uniqueness in football extends beyond her multiple departures from Barcelona.
The 31-year-old doesn't eat meat, and her diet is 90% plant based. She initially made the change in 2019 to aid her recovery from injury. With the help of a nutritionist, she progressively made this diet permanent.
"Definitely now even in my numbers in performance [improve]; the weights, everything I do every day," Losada explains. "And my body feels way nicer. Going plant based just makes me feel way better."
The wider benefits of a plant based diet also appeal to Losada. You can't help but draw comparisons between her and another environmentally conscious, Spanish, former Arsenal player.
"I remember watching a documentary of Hector Bellerin and he had a big injury and he changed his diet, and his life in general changed completely," she adds. "I think he was one of the first footballers to speak about plant based.
"It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life because also now you realise that this helps the environment, and makes the world happier and better.
"I actually think when I retire I will still be plant based. But for me I’m conscious about animals, the change we are making in the world with all the impact we’re making with wrong habits. If I can be a small help, I’m proud to be part of it."
Vicky Losada was speaking as part of her work with American Pistachio Growers. Pistachios are a convenient snack, with a high antioxidant capacity, that make up a complete protein. They are also portable and don’t require any preparation. Vicky incorporates pistachios into her training diet to fuel her active lifestyle, and to help refuel and recover before and after a match.
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