A certain elegance and grace filled each and every stadium around the world where Renate Lingor worked her magic with the ball. Her silky and lithe movement, combined with finely-honed technique, great vision, deceptive feints and deadly direct free-kicks meant Lingor was repeatedly compared with her male counterparts Mehmet Scholl and Thomas Haessler, two of the finest and most authentic playmakers ever produced by the German men’s game. Indeed, even though the trio have long since hung up their boots, the standout 1.66 metre schemer sticks in the footballing memory just as much as her male equivalents. Lingor and admiring applause were never far removed.
Now 39, she will forever be thought of as the last true No10 in the women’s game, although as she once revealed in a FIFA.com interview, she is not entirely comfortable with the label. "I was only a playmaker at the start of my career. The position disappeared soon afterwards. Later on, I moved back to what you might call a ‘No6’, a holding midfielder. I remember it very well. Our coach Tina Theune approached me one day and said: ‘If you don't want to end up as an unfulfilled talent, you'll have to learn about hard work in football.’ Fortunately, I worked that one out a little while later."
Skill and so much more
The former player who finished third in the vote for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in 2006 was an undisputed figurehead in a truly Golden Generation in German women’s football. A FIFA Women’s World Cup™ winner in 2003 and 2007, she earned a total of 149 senior caps in an illustrious international career between 1995 and 2008.
Idgie, as she was nicknamed by her team-mates, boasts a glittering medal collection. Alongside her two World Cup triumphs, she is a three-time European champion, seven-time German champion, seven-time German cup winner and two-time UEFA Cup winner. She also has two Olympic bronze medals to her name. In 2014 she was named best indoor player of all time in an online poll conducted by the German FA (DFB). "Renate has everything you need as a No10, but it’s not all tricks and flicks – there’s a great deal more besides," enthused her former team-mate and current Germany U-20 coach Maren Meinert.
The Karlsruhe native was renowned for match-winning moments of inspiration, as she demonstrated at the Women’s World Cup 2003 in the USA with two crucial assists in her team’s push for glory: she took the corner for Kerstin Garefrekes to head the opener in the semi-final showdown with the hosts, and served up the free-kick for Nia Kuenzer to nod home the trophy-winning Golden Goal in the Final against Sweden.
A life for football
Lingor took up the game in the first place thanks to her 18-month older brother. At club level, she spent more than 11 years with FFC Frankfurt from 1997 to 2008, acting as the central pivot and distributor for the then serial champions. She has always been unreservedly passionate about the game: "Football is my life. That’s how it’s always been up to now and I guess that’s how it always will be. I grew up with football and I’ve always spent every spare minute out on the pitch. Football is the chief influence on my life."
Renate Lingor was forced to give up playing in 2008 due to injury but has remained in the game and is currently on the DFB staff, where her responsibilities included heading up a new schools football section.