Nadine Angerer is undoubtedly one of the more interesting characters at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011™. Honest, humble and unpretentious, she has never been one to crave the limelight, dreaming instead of owning a hostel for backpackers once her playing days are over.
Having just earned her 100th international cap, the Germany goalkeeper’s experience will be vital as the hosts bid to make it three wins out of three with victory over the highly acclaimed France in Monchengladbach on Tuesday.
“We’re under enormous pressure to succeed,” Angerer told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview. “But I’m able to feed off the energy from the stands and I think the rest of the team can too. There’s a lot of energy directed onto the field, it’s amazing!"
The two-time world champion, who shot to prominence at China 2007 by managing not to concede a single goal throughout the tournament, considers the wave of euphoria generated in her homeland by the showpiece event as a dream come true.
Still, the German No1 is aware of the dangers of getting caught up in the hype and recognises that claiming a third straight crown will be no walk in the park, even on home turf: “We’ve won the World Cup twice in a row and it would be very, very naive to assume we’ll win it a third time. Still, our best chance of doing so is here in Germany in front of our absolutely fantastic fans.”
‘Natze’, as she is known by her team-mates, also understands the importance of patience at the highest level. For 11 long years she waited in the shadows of her predecessor Silke Rottenberg, remaining second-choice keeper at seven major tournaments before finally getting her big break at the FIFA World Cup China 2007. When her frustration boiled over in 1999, former Germany coach Tina Theune gave her a simple choice: “Listen Natze, either you give 100 per cent and become the best goalkeeper in the world – or we don’t need you here anymore.” Angerer elected for the former.
‘A fiery contest’
Since then she has gone on to become one of Germany’s most reliable performers alongside the likes of Birgit Prinz, Ariane Hingst, Kerstin Garefrekes and Inka Grings. Taking things one step at a time has become her mantra, which is why she is still confident despite less-than-convincing displays in the 2-1 opening victory over Canada and subsequent 1-0 success against Nigeria.
“There has definitely been an improvement in our all-round defensive play – in defence, midfield and up front. We’ve hardly set the world alight in attack, but that’s good in some respects because it means we still have room to improve.”
Germany are now determined to hit top gear in their final group match against France: “I think we’ll be able to play with more freedom now,” said Angerer, who is aware that a third victory would secure top spot in their section and a supposedly less dangerous opponent in the quarter-finals.
Standing in their way are a French side in the form of their lives. “The French won very convincingly against Canada, but I think their game suits us,” said Angerer to round off the interview. “We’re focused on the task and certainly won’t be underestimating them. It’s going to be a fiery contest.”