- Jovana Damnjanovic enjoyed great success at VfL Wolfsburg
- * * 2014 Champions League winner, 2014 German champion, 2015 DFB Cup winner
- * * Believes German mentality could benefit Serbia * *
During her time at VfL Wolfsburg Jovana Damnjanovic won every trophy available, helping Die Wolfinnen to the UEFA Women's Champions League, German championship and DFB Cup titles. Now at SC Sand, the club she joined in summer 2015, the striker is preparing for another cup final and has the next piece of silverware in her sights on Saturday.
The Serbia international has played in the Women's Bundesliga for four years and is eager to take one quality in particular back to her national team: the German mentality. "Of all the experience I've gained, if I could take just one thing with me into the national set-up, it's to never give up," the 22-year old said in an interview with FIFA.com. "There's a different mentality in Serbia and people quit easily. In Germany I've learned that in football – as well as in life – you should never give up.
"In the Champions League final we were 2-0 down at half-time and in the end we won," she continued. "Last year with SC Sand we were 1-0 down against Bayern Munich in the DFB Cup semi-final and ended up winning."
While the 5'7" (1.71m) striker has been hugely successful at club level she has never participated at a major tournament with Serbia. Yet dreams exist so that one day they might come true. "Every player can win the Champions League, the cup or the league title with their club," she said. "But it's different with the national team. I'd like to experience what it's like to be at a big tournament with Serbia. That's my dream."
*"In Serbia, a lot of people have no idea that women's football actually exists"
The Belgrade native will only be a spectator when the UEFA Women's EURO kicks off on 16 July. She will have another chance to fulfil her dream, however, with qualifying for the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019™ just around the corner - even if it is not her top priority at present. "I'm not thinking about the national team very much at the moment," she said. "On Saturday we've got the cup final and then I'm moving to Bayern Munich. I saw the [World Cup qualifying] draw and was delighted. It's a good group with strong opponents. We'll be able to show what we can do against these good teams. I don't know if that'll be enough to beat Austria, for example. And if we don't win then we can gain experience for the next round and for the future."
Those experiences will be important in raising the profile of the women's game to bring it into sharper focus, with many people unaware that women's football is even played in her homeland: "When I tell people in Serbia that I'm a footballer they say: 'Really? That exists?' In Serbia a lot of people have no idea that women's football actually exists." Damnjanovic is a likeable figure eager for greater media exposure for her team, be it on television or in print, as the attacker, who made her senior international debut at the tender age of 15, insists the potential is there.
"We've got really talented girls and players, it's unbelievable," she said. "But unfortunately we don't have the German mentality and the girls don't work as hard. In Germany some players perhaps aren't as talented but with hard work and good coaches they can become very good. We've always played well and we've got talent but we're not consistent and don't do it every match. We have one or two good games followed by one or two bad ones. In Germany they always work hard. I'd like to take that attitude to Serbia."
And given the success of Germany's women's national team, that is not a bad idea at all…