A television camera films the action Bristol City Women v Brighton and Hove Albion Women WSL football match, Stoke Gifford Stadium, Bristol, UK - 10 Feb 2019 Photo: Kieran McManus for The FA

What happened to Bristol Academy and Arsenal’s ‘Michu’ after life in England?

In 2013, Bristol Academy boss Mark Sampson brought a Spaniard to the FA Women’s Super League 1 when he acquired the services of Rayo Vallecano captain Natalia Pablos.

The striker was labelled ‘a female Michu’ by manager Sampson and she certainly did not disappoint in the English game.

Pablos’ first season at Bristol Academy was a hugely successful one. She scored nine of her side’s 30 goals as they pushed Liverpool all the way in the title race before eventually being named the runners-up. She added four more league goals to her tally in 2014 before leaving the Stoke Gifford Stadium for Arsenal.

The forward continued to find the back of the net for The Gunners, netting seven goals in 2015 as Arsenal finished third in FA Women’s Super League 1 before scoring four times in 2016. She left Meadow Park with FA Women’s Continental Tyres Cup and Women’s FA Cup winners’ medals to add to her personal trophy cabinet.

Upon leaving Arsenal, Pablos returned to former club Rayo Vallecano where she was regarded as something of a legend. Her goals in her first spell had helped the Spanish club win no less than three league titles as well as the Copa de la Reina, the Spanish equivalent of Women’s FA Cup. She had also represented the club in the UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Her return to Rayo Vallecano saw Pablos play the final season of her career. The Spanish league had changed a lot in her time playing overseas and Rayo were no longer a dominant force. Her final campaign did not end in silverware, her side finished 11th of the 16 clubs participating in the Primera Division Femenina, but she built on her legendary status at Rayo Vallecano by scoring another 15 goals.

Despite ending the season as the sixth-highest scorer in the Spanish top flight, Pablos hung up her boots at the age of 32, a real shame given that she was still performing at a very high standard. Had she have continued to play, the striker would have undoubtedly added to her sizeable goal tally for Rayo Vallecano.

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