Damaris Igorola van Leon speaks four languages and could have played in three countries – he eventually chose to represent the Netherlands and help them defend their European title this summer.
Igorola, 22, was born in the United States to a Dutch mother and a Spanish Basque father.
The midfielder represented Spain at youth level – as well as her solo debut with the Basque Country – before making her debut for La Roja in 2019.
But after years of deliberation and recent conversations with Anglo-Dutch coach Mark Parsons, Igorola decided to switch.
Igorola was named to the Dutch national team on Tuesday to face Cyprus in the World Cup qualifiers, and it will be a friendly match against South Africa next month.
“It was a long process, I think,” she told BBC Sport.
“As the years went by, I had to make a decision. It is a special decision because I have had the opportunity to choose between three nationalities.
“I think in recent years everyone can see that Holland is one of the best teams in Europe. It is a team without borders. I think I fit in perfectly with that and I am very happy with the decision.”
“As a player and as a person I am very demanding. Every player wants to play in the big leagues. The Netherlands somehow came to me and they were really interested and wanted me – that’s why I came to them.”
“My mom is Dutch and I grew up in Holland. We used to go there every summer, so I feel at home there.”
Back to where it all began…
Damaris Igurola made her debut in Spain in 2019, but this was her only appearance
Igorola spent her early years in Florida before moving to her father’s homeland of East Biscay in the Basque Country, Spain.
She traveled to Holland every summer to spend time with her mother’s family and there she started playing soccer.
“I used to play a lot with my cousins and their friends,” she says. “This is how it all began. We just played in the parks in Groningen.”
“It is usual in the Netherlands to have parks in every neighbourhood. We are playing our first match [against Cyprus] Now also in Groningen this is very cool. I hope to make my debut with my whole family.”
But how did Igurola choose between the world champions and the United States and the European champions the Netherlands and Spain – the favorites to win the European Championship this summer?
“I had some conversations with [Netherlands] Fitness coach. He wanted me as soon as possible, but it is clear that changing the nationality is a long process. ”
“I spoke to my Lyon teammate Daniel van de Donk to help me get to know the Dutch team and how it is going. She gave me an overview. It was really helpful.
“I can’t wait to see how they work. It’s a very beautiful country. I’ve been following them for the past few years and really like the way they play. It fits me well with my profile.”
‘I can’t wait to feel the buzz of the euro’
Damaris Igurola played at Wembley in the FA Cup final after the defeat to Manchester City while at Everton, but was behind closed doors during the Covid match.
Egurrola joins a group of players preparing to defend their title at the European Summer Championships in England.
The former Everton midfielder is hoping to play her part – although she admits she will have to work on learning Dutch because she has learned French since her arrival. He moved to Lyon from Merseyside.
“This summer will be very exciting and the European Championships in England will be very interesting,” she says.
“I really felt the fans and the support when I was in England. I think it would be great. The England team is great too. I played against a lot of young players who were really good.
“I think it will be an important tournament for them. I don’t think they have gone past the semi-finals in recent years, but this time I think it will be difficult to beat them.”
The tournament is expected to see a record number of visitors and fans at the Wembley Final on July 31. It could beat the record for any men’s or women’s Euro match, with tickets selling out within an hour.
“I was surprised by this news, but not at the same time,” Igurola adds.
“In my few months in England I’ve seen the fans do everything and they’re excited.
“It’s very good that women’s football is already sold out and Wembley is really full. I didn’t get the chance to play with the crowd there, so I can’t wait to feel that.”
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