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Long Reign The Queen

A tribute to Kosovare Asllani.

Real Madrid v Sevilla FC - Primera Iberdrola Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Dreams always come with unforeseen challenges and sacrifices, but the problem with Kosse’s was that it was fictitious. Real Madrid did not have a women’s team.

However, as is the case with most pioneers, they challenge the hierarchy and call out the negligence.

She did so not just once but multiple times:

Asllani was always a vocal figure and, like a true viking, her pursuit for her dream was relentless.

When Madrid announced its decision to have a women’s team on June 25, 2019, the wheels for that dream were set in motion. That’s all it took for the Ballon D’or nominee to drop everything and be a part of this project. The hope of realizing her ambitions was bigger than anything.

She swiftly became the club’s first ever signing. The first Gálactica. The face of the club that would go on to become Real Madrid Femenino. Ardent fans quickly termed her the “Queen of Madrid,” a moniker that stuck and aptly touched on her widespread appeal.

But Asllani’s desire didn’t just end at playing for the club — at Real Madrid you never settle and she understood that better than most. She arrived with an intention to steer Las Blancas to the apex.

Nevertheless, dreams don’t come that easy. The Swede knew that. There were challenges: from building a winning team, to adapting to a new culture and way of football, and to the management itself.

The story of Real Madrid on the pitch began with a soul-crushing 9-1 defeat at the hands of Barcelona — a defeat that marked the front pages of all newspapers; a defeat that is impossible for a winner like her to digest.

She would have to toil hard and dig deep with the team for survival that season. The task at hand was not an easy one, but she already knew that. She embodied the club’s ethos and never-say-die attitude from way before she joined the club.

The second season came with its own new challenges. Now, officially Real Madrid, the club dreamt of Europe. It was a season of complete overhaul and our first avenger got reinforcements, although those never arrived in the form of a striker.

Undeterred, the natural #10 led from the front, finishing the season as the team’s top goal scorer and helping quench Madrid’s thirst for European football in their first attempt. In no time, Real Madrid was where it had always belonged.

Injuries, coaching decisions, and the media never went easy on her. After all, she was the most distinguished name on the squad. She was scrutinized for not scoring in a couple of games and her vocal nature rubbed people the wrong way, but she stayed true — not just to herself but to the club of her life.

The final act of her stay with Madrid was plagued with injuries and she couldn’t impact proceedings as much as she’d liked. Her play style invited hard challenges all throughout her career — she was the 2nd most fouled player at the FIFA WWC 2019 for a reason — and, this season, those challenges got the better of her. She could only make 10 starts in the league, scoring just 3 times.

Asllani’s story at Madrid is one of sacrifices, with different ones each season.

She sacrificed trophies and glory elsewhere to play for a club that had a different badge and name than Madrid in her first season. She let go of her preferred position for the needs of the club and followed that up by forgoing the opportunity to make more money in her final year.

Asllani was quick to learn Spanish to assimilate with club and country, which only increased Madridistas’ fondness of her. Her bond with Athenea was that of a guardian angel and a mamá to her hija.

Asllani did everything to create unforgettable firsts with the club of her life. From scoring the first goal in the first official official season of Real Madrid Femenino to scoring the first brace and then scoring the first hat-trick, which was also the fastest hat-trick in Merengue history, Asllani has etched herself all over Madrid’s folklore.

Her impact cannot be reduced to goals and assists — she transcended that. Her passion on the field was infectious, she wore her heart on her sleeve, and she never backed off from a good challenge.

While the club is an entity that goes on forever, that “forever” is made meaningful by such players. Girls growing up today will dream of following in her footsteps and making history with the club of their dreams.

Some love affairs are eternal, some bonds are timeless, and some things complete each other. But they say: part of the journey is the end.

For the next generation, the dream of donning the Royal Whites will not be non-existent. That generation has been handed the baton that Asllani carried from day one. The club now stands on its own with an allure that attracts the best. The Viking superhero conquered Madrid at last.

The tree of Real Madrid will bear fruits again; there will be goal scorers, record breakers, trophies, and successes — but there won’t be another Kosovare Asllani.

What started unknown has finished unforgettable. Long reign la reina!

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