- Natascha Honegger made her debut for Brazil at the Tournoi de France
- A dream come true for the keeper, who was born in Uster, Switzerland
- Nati coach Nils Nielsen advised her to follow her dream
Everyone has heard of A Seleçao and Brazilian legend Marta, but what about Greifensee?
We are not referring here to the lake in the Swiss canton of Zurich, but rather the historic town of the same name on its shores. It happens to be the town where Natascha Honegger, the Brazilian goalkeeper who realised her international dream in March, grew up. But let's start at the beginning...
Honegger was born near Zurich and holds dual Swiss and Brazilian nationality. However, since she was a child, she has dreamed of wearing the famous Seleçao jersey and representing the homeland of her mother. As a teenager, she displayed such prowess between the posts that she was selected for Switzerland at under-age level, even participating in the UEFA European Women’s U-19 Championship in 2016.
In early 2019, she was called up to the Swiss senior squad, with whom she enjoyed training get-togethers. At the same time, however, she had come to the attention of the Brazilian football federation, who made contact with the player. After getting the call, Honegger thought long and hard before making the difficult decision to declare for Brazil.
"It was a case of following my heart," the 1.81m goalkeeper explained on Le Parisien's website. "There’s a bit of both countries in my personality. I’m proud to have grown up in Switzerland, which is a country that has given me a lot. But ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been wearing Brazil football shirts [smiles]. I always told my mom I wanted to play for the Seleçao."
After announcing the decision with an Instagram post, she received a message from none other than six-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta:"Seja bem vinda (Welcome) 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻," the Brazilian wrote.
For the 22-year-old, who has been playing for Paris FC since the start of this season, the big moment finally came on 4 March. At the Tournoi de France, Honegger impressed on her Canarinha debut after coming off the bench to replace Aline in their clash with 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup™ runners-up the Netherlands.
"When the goalkeeping coach told me that I was going to play the second half against the Netherlands, I thought he was joking," Honegger told footofeminin.fr after her debut. "I was very nervous and excited with it being my first appearance for Brazil, not to mention playing such a great team with really good players like [Shanice] Van de Sanden, who I’ve seen many times and rate very highly. I still can't believe it, but I feel relieved and happy."
Brazil coach Pia Sundhage was also delighted with the player’s first appearance. "I entrusted our goalkeeping coach Veludo with the task of finding the best keeper and training her. He’s done a great job so far and it was he who recommended Natascha.
"If you look at her, you’ll see she is big and imposing but also composed. I was impressed with her level in that game, because it usually takes several matches to develop an understanding with your defence. However, she assimilated very well today and was very important in that game."
The prospects look very good for Honegger to continue impressing in the colours of A Seleçao and to realise her dream. "I’m young – 22 years old – and the other Brazilian goalkeepers are over 30. Being there was a great opportunity for me. I wanted to play to show the coach that she’d done the right thing in calling me up. This will help me grow."