Germany's Schuller goes full circle 

  • Lea Schuller discovered her passion for football in France

  • She scored six goals in as many qualifying games

  • Being described as a "beacon of hope" serves a source of motivation

France is a place of great significance for Lea Schuller - and not only because the country will host the FIFA Women's World Cup™ next year. In a way, it is where her career started, the setting where she discovered her passion for football.

"We went to France on holiday in 2004 and I watched the European Championship on television," the 21-year-old with a smile. "I evidently liked it so much that I signed up for the team in my village straight after the tournament. I don't have any siblings and my parents never played football, so I can't explain it really."

Nevertheless, Schuller clearly has talent in her genes, as she regularly demonstrates at club level for SGS Essen and also in the German national team. She scored six times in as many games during France 2019 qualifying, and even netted every goal in a 4-0 victory over Czech Republic. Interim head coach Horst Hrubesch also played an important role in that achievement.

"For me personally it was fantastic that Horst became our coach," the striker said. "He put his faith in me from the very start and gave me game time. I played the full 90 minutes in a lot of matches and then there was that game where I scored four. He always believed in me. In the first match he called me over to the touchline and said, 'now get another two or three', after I'd already scored one. He saw something in me that I perhaps hadn't even seen myself. He always got the best out of me."

The 5'7 (1.73m) forward's displays did not go unnoticed in the media either and she was described as a beacon of hope in the national team. "Obviously it's a huge honour to have something like that written about me," she said.

"When you read something like that as a relatively young player then it sort of stays in the back of your mind, but I wouldn't say that it puts me under pressure. It motivates me even more so that maybe I can have a part to play at the World Cup and help the team."

That is her chief objective: to be part of the Germany squad seeking a third Women's World Cup title to go with the country's successes in 2003 and 2007. "Being at a World Cup one day is something you constantly work towards," she said. "But I don't want to think about it too much. I'd be over the moon if I'm in the squad when it's announced. Then the excitement would start to build. It would be amazing."

Schuller also stated that Germany's two previous title triumphs serve as inspiration to her: "It's our aim to be in the running to win it, so we should be looking at those as examples to follow."

Before then, however, Germany will discover who they will face at the tournament when the France 2019 Draw is made on Saturday. And Schuller will be following it keenly: "I also watched the press conference with our new coach. I'll watch the draw – I watch them when the men's team are involved. It's part and parcel of it all, especially when you're a player and might be there yourself."