An hour had passed since she collected the 2013 FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Award and still Nadine Angerer could not believe her eyes or ears. The fact was, however, that even though the 35-year-old German goalkeeper was struggling to take it all in, it was no surprise that the accolade should have gone to her.
After all, she had enjoyed an outstanding year and was one of the engineers of Germany’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2013 triumph in Sweden last summer. Fulfilling her role as the most capped player in the side, she urged her young team-mates on and then stood tall in the final, stopping two penalties in normal time to help the Germans seal a 1-0 victory against Norway.
“There was a fantastic atmosphere in the stadium,” she told FIFA.com, recalling the final in Gothenburg. “I had the feeling in the dressing room that we were up for it. Right from the kick-off I could sense this amazing spirit in the team.
“To be honest, I never felt for a minute that the title would slip out of our grasp. Obviously I did my bit by stopping two penalties, but I knew that my team-mates were strong enough to make the difference in that game.”
Highs and lows
Even before setting foot in Sweden, Angerer was convinced Germany’s young side had what it took to follow in the footsteps of their distinguished predecessors, despite the absence of six first-choice players.
“I could see how much potential we had during our warm-up games,” commented the German custodian. “I said to myself that we’d be able to settle our nerves if we put two good games together. I knew that if we got a little confidence, we could go on and win the tournament. We had our ups and downs and it was a very challenging tournament. We took some criticism along the way, but we fought for each other and came out on top in the end.”
A veteran of 127 internationals, the vastly experienced Angerer played down her contribution to the team’s success: “We had a very good side and I’m not the only one responsible for our achievement. With Saskia Bartusiak, Annike Krahn and Celia Okoyino da Mbabi, who’s now Celia Sasic, we have a very solid core.
“We all pulled in the same direction. When things are going well you don’t need leaders in a group. Unfortunately it wasn’t all plain sailing though, and when things get tough it’s good to be able to count on some strong minds, especially for the younger members of the side. We contributed with our experience. The senior players spoke with each other and we did what we could to relieve the pressure on the others.” As the results in Sweden showed, their approach worked.
Since making her debut in 1996 Angerer has grown into her role in the national team. As the captain of the side it is her job to throw a protective arm around the newcomers and pass on her experience to the younger players.
“You need to make your presence felt, on and off the pitch,” she explained. “I’ve developed over the course of these 17 years, and not just on a personal level. I’ve worked on my game, and the training I’ve done with Michael Fuchs (Germany’s goalkeeping coach) has helped me improve an awful lot.”
Discussing the changes that goalkeeping has seen over the last few years, she said: “Keepers were often seen as the weak link, and it was a kind of neglected position in a lot of teams. The outfield players got all the attention and the goalkeepers were forgotten about to some extent. These days, however, coaches are well aware of just how important a position it is, and you now see a lot of ambitious projects that give the better keepers the coaching they need.”
Angerer also experienced a number of changes on an individual level in 2013. In September she teamed up with Brisbane Roar for the start of their Australian W-League campaign, and then announced that she would be embarking on a new adventure in the USA this coming April with reigning National Women’s Soccer League champions Portland Thorns.
“After two weeks I knew I’d made the right choice in signing for Brisbane. The standard is excellent in Australia,” she said. “I’m expecting the American league to be even more competitive. I want to play in a new continent and to see how they train there and how teams gel as a unit. Every country has its own mindset and I can’t wait to see for myself how they play the game in the United States.”
There are some things, however, that do not change, and when asked if she expects to be between the posts for her country at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™, Angerer had no hesitation in answering: “Right now there’s absolutely no doubt about that.”