Ten months after Maite Oroz suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in her left knee, the Athletic Club of Bilbao midfielder says she has “learnt a lot”.
Last September, in the third match of the season against Atlético de Madrid, in what shouldn’t have been a dangerous move, Oroz felt something she had never felt before.
“I didn’t know what the symptoms of a knee injury were,” Oroz told the Sports Gazette. Nevertheless, she wanted to hope for the best.
After nearly a whole season without playing, Oroz has been able to focus on her own goals, but she says it has been “a tough time, having to learn to live outside the team.”
“My day to day was basically going to Lezama – Athletic Club’s training grounds – and putting in a lot more hours than my team mates; I have also been able to attend more lectures at university,” Oroz, a student of Sports Science at the University of Deusto in Bilbao, reveals. Andrea Esteban, ex-football player for Valencia FC who retired at 23 due to five ACL injuries, confessed that recuperation was something you had to do alone, and the Basque player confirms this: “In the end you get used to it and you make friends with the physiotherapists who treat you every day.
“My friends and my family, especially my parents and brother, have supported me the most,” Oroz says. “They have always been there for me and I really appreciate it.”
Maite Oroz started playing aged six, “like lots of little girls” in a mixed team in her town – Huarte – in Navarra, the Basque Country. When she began playing for a women’s team, she received a call from C.A. Osasuna, and recalls that “being the city’s team, it was really nice to defend the colours”. C.A. Osasuna is based in Pamplona, just 6km away from Huarte and now plays in the ‘Segunda Division Pro’, the women’s Second Division professional category.
When Oroz’s current team – Athletic Club of Bilbao – signed her at the age of 14, she had to leave her family. “It was hard, but all the girls on the team were really helpful and made me feel very welcome,” Oroz told us.
Back in 2016, they called her “the new pearl”, and today she warns she’s “coming back with a vengeance and to do my very best.”
Check out Athletic Club on Sunday against Deportivo Abanca at 3pm.