Doris Fitschen may have worn the No5 shirt and played as a libero, but surprisingly her idol was not German legend Franz Beckenbauer. "When I was young there weren't any women's football stars. I always liked Klaus Fischer, so I wanted to be like him."

There was no local football club in Zeven, the small German town where Fitschen was born on 25 October 1968, so her only option was to practise her skills in her parents' farm with a couple of friends.

"German footballers have a reputation for being physically fit, technically accomplished and very disciplined," said one of Fitschen's former coaches. "Doris was the perfect example of this." Indeed, the cultured defender began to demonstrate her exceptional power, pace and skills very early on.

At the age of nine, Fitschen joined FC Hesedorf before going on to play for five different clubs over the next 18 years, enjoying plenty of success along the way. As well as three German national titles and three German Cups, she also lifted the Supercup in 1992.

Fitschen made her international debut on 4 October 1986 against Denmark and subsequently took part in four UEFA Women's EUROs and two Women's Olympic Football Tournaments. At her first FIFA Women's World Cup™ in 1991, she was part of the Germany team which finished fourth and was rewarded for her excellent displays with a place in the FIFA All-Star Team. She was unable to participate in Sweden four years later owing to a knee injury, but returned in 1997 to help her country to further European glory.

The now 42-year-old also made the All-Star Team at USA 1999, and she returned to the States in early 2001 to compete in the inaugural campaign of the WUSA league. As captain of the Philadelphia Charge, Fitschen scored the first goal in the history of the competition and was later voted Defender of the Year. "Playing in the USA was a great experience," said the talented sweeper looking back.

Fitschen finally hung up her boots in the wake of a fractured wrist sustained in a 2-1 victory over New York Power on 30 July 2001. She was later given a special award by UEFA for her services to women's football, and now works as Team Manager of the German women's team.