Mandy Islacker credits her father's for the fact that she is chasing a medal with Germany at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament at Rio 2016. After all, he was the one who introduced her to the game.
"I like playing," laughed the 5'4" (1.64 metre) striker in an interview with FIFA.com. "But how did I get started? Yes, it was definitely him. My father was a coach back then and he would always take me along with him. I enjoyed playing football and then at some point he signed me up at a club."
Her career has taken an upward trajectory ever since. Islacker was just 16 when she made her Bundesliga debut for FCR 2001 Duisburg against VfL Wolfsburg in 2004. She subsequently had spells at Bayern Munich, where she finished as league runner-up, and BV Cloppenburg. She has been at 1. FFC Frankfurt since 2014 and it is there that she enjoyed her biggest success to date. In the UEFA Women's Champions League final against Paris Saint-Germain, the Essen native scored the winner in a 2-1 victory.
It was therefore only a matter of time before Germany national team coach Silvia Neid took notice of her. Islacker made her debut on 10 October and now, just ten months later, she is part of the team in Brazil.
"The fact that I'm here now is a dream come true," said the 28-year-old. "I'd never have thought it would happen. I'm delighted to be here and am enjoying every moment. Brazil is a beautiful country and you see the other teams because they stay in the same hotels. We're playing in big stadiums and there are a lot of spectators there. It's really cool."
Islacker's first appearance at the tournament was against Canada, although she is not entirely satisfied with her own performance: "I can definitely do more. I'm always very self-critical and I can definitely do better." Germany lost the game 2-1 and had to settle for second place in their group. In their previous match the two-time FIFA Women's World Cup™ winners could only manage a draw with Australia. "I don't think we had enough movement ahead of the ball," said Islacker by way of explanation, before sounding a combative note: "We're in the quarter-finals and those games are irrelevant now. We're in the knockout phase and now it's all about reaching the semis."
Germany face China PR in the last eight. The teams have met 29 times previously, most recently at the 2015 Algarve Cup where Germany won 2-0. "China play well and are a technically strong team, " Islacker said. "It'll be pretty tough against them, but obviously we want to get into the semi-finals. We'll definitely have to keep the ball circulating well, have a lot of movement ahead of the ball and try to use the flanks."