Having now acclimatised to top level football, Alexandra Popp’s athleticism and dynamism make her a fearsome opponent. Furthermore, her ability to shoot with either foot, her aerial strength and all-round determination have helped her make the step up into the senior German side seamlessly. She is well on her way to following in the rather large footsteps left by one Birgit Prinz.
Popp followed up winning the UEFA European Women’s U-17 Championship 2008 with the FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup on home soil two years later. There she rounded off a superb tournament by collecting both individual awards - the adidas Golden Shoe for finishing as top scorer and the adidas Golden Ball for best player.
And she is eager for more success with the seniors. “Of course it’s our aim now to win the group and travel to the Women’s European Championship 2013,” Popp told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “We still have a very young team and therefore we need to keep working hard in order to win the title. But I’m positive and am looking forward to the Euros optimistically.”
As an 18-year-old, Poppi made her full international debut on 19 February 2010. She hit the ground running and scored her first goals at the Algarve Cup a few days later. In 2012 she was part of the Algarve Cup winning side that gave Silva Neid her first title as Germany head coach.
Popp has a simple explanation for why she was able to make the transition from junior to senior so smoothly. “As young players we’re incorporated really well here. We come up from the junior teams and are integrated straight away. Both the coaching staff and the other players constantly give you tips, which is very important and also helps build team spirit. Everything’s gone really well so far and us younger players feel great.”
Popp’s accomplishments to date are not only down to her extraordinary talent, but also have much to do with her attitude and ambition. “You can always get better. Not just us young players, but the experienced ones as well,” said the striker. “There is still a lot of room for improvement. We’re just getting started and I’m very confident that we will still get better.”
It is easy to see why she has become so feared in the penalty area, given the strength of her resolve off the pitch: “We never think about giving up or letting our heads hang. That’s just not our way,” Popp added.
Still only 21, Popp already plays like an seasoned professional. 19 goals in 29 appearances for the German team tell their own story and of course make her one of the key members in the side. Yet she is not content to stop there.
“I still feel like I have a lot of potential. I constantly need to practice with my weaker foot. I can shoot with it, but I can definitely still improve my accuracy and power,” Popp said.
“On top of that I still need to control and fight for the ball better in certain situations. I need to use my body more cleverly to get between the ball and the opponent in order to link up the play.” If Popp continues to work hard on her game and becomes shrewder on the pitch, there is no telling where her talent could take her.