Henry: I'm still hungry to progress

For fans of women's football, Amandine Henry needs little introduction. A Lyon player since 2007, she has amassed an impressive collection of medals at the club, both on the domestic scene and in Europe. So much so that her various coaches have all acclaimed her as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, the Lille native having also shone for France since 2009.

It was with France that she raised her profile immensely this year, and no one who watched her at the FIFA Women's World Cup Canada 2015™ is likely to forget her name soon. Awarded the adidas Silver Ball for her performances, Henry scored a superb goal against Mexico and proved that she belonged on the world stage after having been left out of the France side for over two years – during which time she missed the 2011 edition.

Shortly after her displays on Canadian soil, Henry finished second in the voting for the UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe Award, and she has started the new season in fine form with both Lyon and Les Bleues. Henry also finds herself in the running for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year award, one of many subjects she touched on in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com.

FIFA.com: After finishing runner-up in the best player stakes at Canada 2015 and the European player of the season award, are you expecting to be voted runner-up for the 2015 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year prize? Amandine Henry: (laughs) In my wildest dreams, yes. I really didn't expect to be voted second best player at the World Cup because, after being eliminated in the quarter-finals, there didn't seem any chance of finishing among the best players. I was surprised, proud and happy. And then the UEFA vote came right after that. It was fantastic just to be in the top ten, but to finish second was super. I don't want it to end there, but in terms of the Ballon d'Or nominations there's still a lot to do this season, both at club and international level. I'm not thinking about it, but I'm still hungry to progress.

And are you expecting to finish second in the league with Lyon? No, that's inconceivable. That would be our worst nightmare. We're not thinking about coming second. At OL, it's unimaginable to finish second. Last year, we were eliminated by PSG in the Champions League, and that was very tough because the season is very long when you get knocked out early. Luckily the World Cup lay ahead because that kept me in form and motivated to improve and be in top form at the end of the season.

Lyon players tend to forget the meaning of the word 'defeat'. Can that be potentially harmful ahead of your few big games each season? 'Defeat' is a banned word for us. When you play for OL, there's a lot of pressure, which is normal because the President puts a lot of means at our disposal to get good results. It's inconceivable for us to then not succeed. And we have a very good squad with lots of good players, so if we want to keep our place and our spots in our national teams, we have to prove our worth every day. That's why we need to keep proving ourselves and always stay motivated. If you want to improve, you have to be at your best all the time. That means never losing.

We need a little bit of luck and more of a killer instinct. If you watch our match against Germany, we had a lot of chances.

France have never seemed as strong as they do now, but you did less well at Canada 2015 than at the 2011 World Cup and 2012 Olympic tournament. What do Les Bleues need to do to reach the next level and come away with a medal? We need a little bit of luck and more of a killer instinct. If you watch our match against Germany, we had a lot of chances. Sure, we won the Fair Play Award, but that's not the one we were after (laughs).

Do you still have regrets after dominating Germany only to lose on penalties? Was it this year or never in terms of going all the way? You can't have regrets if you give everything. If you look at the chances we had, we can feel a little frustrated. But all of us can look ourselves in the mirror because we did everything we could. Germany used to be on a whole different level, but we managed to cause them problems and surprised them even. It came down to small details, but that game has motivated us for the future because our inferiority complex has gone now and we know we're capable of competing with them. The same goes for USA. We met them several times last season. They're a huge nation, but we no longer have to feel embarrassed about our performances against them. France has become a great football nation, but we need to prove it in competition.

Before the World Cup, there was a lot of talk about stars such as Homare Sawa, Abby Wambach, Celia Sasic, Nadine Angerer and Lotta Schelin – a list that included no French players, even though France were seen as one of the favourites. Do you think that has changed since your adidas Silver Ball and second place in the voting for the UEFA Best Women's Player in Europe award? When a player gets singled out, I can't tell you how much pressure she then feels under to play well. And if everything depends on one player, it becomes easier for the other team – they just have to take care of her. Our game is based on our collective play. That's what's most important in this France team. And what's also true is that we don't just have a good team ethic, we have very good players as well. However, recognition also comes through winning team titles at international level. When you look at all the great players, they've all won trophies and medals. That's what we lack at the moment, and I hope that'll change because there are some very good players in France who deserve more recognition.

Our game is based on our collective play. That's what's most important in this France team.

You have been playing at the highest level for a number of years, but it feels like the world has only just discovered you this year. Are you frustrated that it has taken so long for you to receive recognition? I felt frustration when I was no longer in the France team, so I'm not frustrated by only getting recognition now. It's a kind of revenge for me because I kept working and never gave up and now the world is discovering me, you might say. I'm very happy because maybe it might never have happened at all. I'm still Amandine from Olympique Lyonnais who started out at her little club, but I feel like it's reached a whole new level. In fact, I played three good games at the World Cup and all of a sudden everything exploded. Meanwhile, I played three good seasons at club level but that never had the same impact. It's incredible, and you see how it comes down to very small details. But that's how it is at the highest level. You score a great goal at a World Cup and you become huge, whereas if you score a great goal in the league, no one talks about it. Take Carli Lloyd, for example. People weren't really talking that much about her before the World Cup, but then she scored a hat-trick in the World Cup Final – and it wasn't any old hat-trick either. The day you get a star on your shirt can be the turning point of your career.

Does the fact that a defensive midfielder won individual recognition show that women's football is evolving, with every position now considered important and not just big-name forwards making headlines? For a long time it was only the goalscorers who won awards, but now we're realising that, in women's football too, every position is really important. There's more recognition now and it's a great motivation because you don't necessarily need to score goals to have people say you played a good game. Players in other positions can stand out as well. It began with Nadine Angerer, and it helped a lot that she was voted world player of the year by experts because, often, supporters only remember the goalscorers.

When you were named Player of the Match against Mexico, you said it was a dream come true but that you had others which you would reveal later. Has the moment come to share them? Yes, because unfortunately they didn't happen. They were to qualify for the semi-finals and then win the World Cup. Or, at least, to finish on the podium.  But those are dreams which I haven't totally abandoned and which I hope will resurface in 2019.