Nadine Angerer achieved everything there is to achieve during her playing career. A European champion on five separate occasions, she became a world champion in 2003 despite never stepping onto the pitch, and lifted the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ trophy again in 2007 as Germany’s first-choice goalkeeper, having kept clean sheets throughout the tournament.
Her crowning achievement followed when she was named FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year in January 2014. “I still can’t believe it, but I’m totally calm and can’t really take it all in,” she said after receiving the award. “I’ll have to sleep on it for a couple of nights until it finally all hits me.”
Two years after her triumph at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala, the 37-year-old returned to Switzerland to mingle with the beautiful game’s current crop of stars at Zurich’s Kongresshaus, this time as a spectator.
FIFA.com caught up with Angerer, who recently announced her retirement after a 20-year professional career in Germany, Sweden, Australia and the USA, for an exclusive interview with a difference. We gave her 11 key phrases and asked her to respond to each one in turn.
FIFA.com: Your greatest success?
Nadine Angerer: "There are so many! I can’t name just one, but there’s no doubt that our Women’s World Cup wins in 2003 and 2007 as well as our European triumph in 2013 are right up there. Having said that, there were also smaller successes like the first German championship with Turbine Potsdam. Obviously I’m particularly proud that I didn’t concede a single goal during the 2007 Women’s World Cup in China and was able to save that penalty from Marta during the final against Brazil. That was important for me because it was my first major tournament as first-choice goalkeeper, but let’s not forget that football is a team sport and I also know that the awesome team we had back then were sensational."
Your toughest challenge?
"The strange thing about a career in professional football is that you constantly have to overcome obstacles; everything comes to a standstill if you don’t try to improve. I always pushed myself to get better. After the two World Cup wins or my FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year title, I could easily have said: ‘What now? Why should I carry on?’ But there’s always more out there, and the curiosity to find out what’s around the next corner keeps me motivated. Continuous development is the greatest challenge of all.”
Your greatest adversary?
"I’ve had different rivals at various stages of my career, but you can often end up standing in your own way. I certainly never let a single clanger go unnoticed [laughs]. Although I was often my own worst enemy, that was probably a good thing in the end, because otherwise I’d never have got to where I ended up."
Your best team-mate?
"Again, there are so many. I could list at least ten off the top of my head. I don’t really want to single anyone out here; I’ve just played alongside too many fantastic, nice players."
Your most emotional match?
"Before the 2007 Women’s World Cup, I was very vocal about wanting to be Germany’s No1 – and then suddenly I reached a point where I had to prove I deserved it. That’s why every single match in China was very, very emotional for me right from kick-off. I put an unbelievable amount of pressure on myself; that’s also why I say I was sometimes my own worst enemy. But like I’ve already said, who knows where I’d have ended up if I hadn’t done that?"
Your proudest moment in the spotlight?
"Of course I was delighted to receive the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2013 at the Gala in Zurich, especially as I was the first female goalkeeper to collect the award. While I’ll gladly admit that was something to be proud of, I stand by what I said on the stage that night: that title was testament to the entire team. Although there’s no doubt that saving two penalties in the EURO final six months earlier was amazing, I’m not so presumptuous as to think that would have been possible without the players in front of me."
Your most influential coach?
"Silvia Neid! I was all over the place, as I’m a real hedonist and very independent [laughs]. Where others probably would have let me fall by the wayside long ago, she understood me. She realised what makes me tick and how I operate, which meant we developed a great deal of mutual trust. In the end she was always able to count on me when push came to shove."
The best club you’ve played for?
"There are so many of those too. I spent time in Sweden, Australia and the USA as well as Germany. Mind you, I’ve got to say that the last two years in Portland really left their mark on me. We had a fan base of between 14,000 and 17,000 supporters there, which I think is probably unique anywhere in the world. The city itself is fantastic. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m a pleasure-seeker and everything has to be perfect. It was incredibly impressive – where else can you play in front of a crowd like that?! It was the most professional club I’ve ever played for. I certainly don’t want to belittle the other clubs I was able to play for; I’m just extremely grateful to have had that experience for two years at the end of my playing career."
Your favourite outfit?
"Casual, just casual! The cap’s always got to be part of it – or the hat! The funny thing is that I’ve been doing that for 15 years, but after the 2007 Women’s World Cup everyone was suddenly saying: ‘Wow, she always goes around wearing a cap!’ I’m not trying to make a statement – I’m just much too lazy to do my hair every morning. That’s all it is!"
Your perfect day without football?
"[laughs] That could be any day since 4 August 2015! No, joking aside, I called time on my playing career in the USA that day and that was a very deliberate decision. To be honest, I don’t really miss my playing days any more. Now I’m totally looking forward to becoming a coach and I’m loving life exactly the way it is in the meantime. It’s such great fun. As for whether I’m sleeping in or going out in the evening, I was doing that before anyway [laughs]!"
"I’ll now be working as a goalkeeping coach in Portland and have been getting up to speed on personal training, fitness training, functional training and CrossFit over the past few months. Although I’ve got plenty of experience in all those areas, I want to familiarise myself with them and understand them much more thoroughly. I’m also a qualified physiotherapist. I think I can incorporate all of that into my goalkeeping coaching, because limiting yourself to teaching the core skills is no longer enough. I’m hugely excited about working with the club’s two goalkeepers, Adrianna Franch and Michelle Betos!"