Silvia Neid was recently crowned FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football for the second time. After initially winning the award in 2010, she was honoured once more in 2013 for her exceptional performances as coach of the German women’s football team. The former world-class player has been Germany’s coach since 2005 and has won one world title, two European ones, an Olympic bronze medal and two Algarve Cups with her team.
“The most important thing is to have a functioning team," said Neid. "An individual like me cannot achieve anything alone, so you need good staff who work extremely well with you and are loyal too. Naturally, you also need players who do what you ask of them. A strong structure is also incredibly important, and we have that at the German Football Association. Last but not least, our league is among the best in the world,” she explained.
“There’s also our national youth teams, who are steered expertly through the ranks by coaches who were all once international players themselves. The thread that runs through the youth sides all the way to the women’s first team is very important and served us extremely well after we suffered so many injuries ahead of the European Championship. Despite travelling to the tournament with some very young players, every single one knew what was required of them. Ultimately, you need a certain amount of luck. Without that you can’t win anything,” she added.
'Natze, do it again'
It was precisely this bit of luck and one Nadine Angerer in the form of her life that led Germany to their eighth European title. Germany could hardly have made their final against Norway any more thrilling, with the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year making two penalty saves that sent her coach’s blood pressure soaring.
“The final was a rollercoaster of emotions. The referee blew for the first penalty and I just thought: ‘Was that really a penalty? Natze [Nadine Angerer – editor’s note], you’ve got to save this’. And she did. Up until that point we had settled really well into the game, the first 20 minutes were all Germany and the spot kick put us off our stride a little. Although the penalty had been saved, you could see the players were a little unsettled, so it was good that half-time soon arrived and we could discuss a couple of tactical issues,” the 49-year-old recalled.
“Norway started the second half so brightly, but our goal came at the right time. Then the second penalty was awarded. I just thought: ‘Natze, do it again’, but it’s not normal for a goalkeeper to save two penalties in one final like she did. After that, it became clear to me that it would be very difficult for Norway to score another goal against us. Nadine seemed invincible that day. Ultimately, one goal was enough for us; we were overjoyed and so proud,” Neid said with a smile.
Favourites for Canada
Germany’s women carried their momentum from the European Championship into qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™ in Canada. Neid’s team continue to ride a wave of success in Group One, with five wins from five matches and an impressive goal difference of 40-0. Germany are the undisputed leaders of their group, with qualification all but certain. Nevertheless, Neid does not feel that expectations are rising, as they are already extremely high.
“Expectations are always sky high when you coach the German women’s national team. It’s simply a fact that Germany will always be among the favourites at any tournament, but with two World Cups, eight European titles and three Olympic bronze medals, we’ve earned those expectations. In light of that, I’m glad we’re considered favourites,” the 2007 World Cup winning coach explained in calm anticipation of the tournament in summer 2015.
Before that, Germany’s national coach’s attention is focused on two further competitions this year. First up is the Algarve Cup from 5-12 March, where her team will face China PR, Iceland and Norway, followed by this summer’s 2014 FIFA World Cup™ in Brazil, which Neid is particularly looking forward to.
“It’ll be a fantastic event. I think our men’s national side has a good chance of going all the way. I’ll have my fingers crossed and hope for my colleague Jogi Low that he makes it to the final. If they do that, anything is possible.”