It is exactly 138 days since Germany were knocked out of the FIFA Women's World Cup 2011™ on home soil by eventual winners Japan, and for some of the team, the scars have not yet healed.
In the case of Melanie Behringer, though, the time has come to look forwards rather than backwards. "I obviously expected the World Cup to turn out differently," she said in an interview with FIFA.com. "We were all disappointed and frustrated about getting knocked out at such an early stage. But it's over now and I'm looking to the future. We can't change what happened. Japan were deserved World Cup winners in my opinion, so far as I'm concerned, that's the end of the story."
Recent results prove that Behringer and her team-mates have indeed managed to move on. They won 1-0 in a friendly against Sweden (who finished third at Germany 2011) before re-writing the record books in their UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 qualifying match against Kazakhstan, running out 17-0 winners and making sure that the rest of the women's international football scene sat up and took notice. The affable midfielder was one of the players who managed to get on the score sheet in that game, in what was an incredible all-round team performance.
Though Germany have not lost a UEFA Women’s EURO qualifier since 1996, 26-year-old Behringer will not be dismissing her group opponents (Spain, Kazakhstan, Romania, Switzerland and Turkey) lightly or taking qualification for granted. "We can be totally happy with our group. It was important for us to get our campaign off to a winning start after our World Cup defeat, and we did that against Switzerland, which I was really pleased about. We're not just going to cruise through to the EURO, though. Nothing can be taken as read and qualifying's not guaranteed. We need to be focussed on every match and play as a team. We're obviously the favourites to win our group and we want to live up to that billing. We want to win every game!"
Given that Behringer has already won the UEFA Women's EURO and the FIFA Women's World Cup, it is amazing to think that she has never won a German Bundesliga title. She came second with Bayern Munich in the 2008/09 season before moving to 1. FFC Frankfurt in July 2010 and getting another runners-up medal last term. This season Frankfurt are currently third in the table behind Potsdam and Duisburg.
"What we're aiming for is obviously the Champions League final in Munich and the DFB Cup in Cologne," said Behringer. Once we lost to Potsdam we knew the league title would be tough, but I still haven't given up hope that we can catch them. I've never won the German league or the Champions League, so if we managed that, it would be a real dream come true."
Behringer began playing football as a child, representing SpVgg Utzenfeld, FC Hausen im Wiesental and SC Freiburg, before joining Bayern Munich in 2008. "Growing up as I did with four brothers who are all mad about football and with a local pitch for the kids just 100 metres away from where we lived, I was always going to end up playing. Every day after kindergarten or school all the local kids would meet up and play there for hours," she said of her earliest footballing memories.
'Women's football is on the right track'
Behringer is one of the more experienced members of the team both for Frankfurt and Germany, and she already has a storied career to look back on, having experienced the recent rise of her chosen sport first hand.
"Women's football has come on in leaps and bounds – not just in Germany but abroad as well. Women have become more athletic and skilful, and the teams are tactically better set up now. You've also got the fact that many more women can actually play football for a living without having to hold down another job at the same time, meaning that they can focus on their game 100 per cent. That obviously improves the standard of the various teams. I think women's football is definitely on the right track."
And with the success of this year's FIFA Women's World Cup and the enthusiasm it generated, you cannot help but agree with the 26-year-old midfield dynamo.