Renate Lingor delivers the corner from the left-hand side and Simone Laudehr rises high in the penalty area, directing an unstoppable header past Brazil goalkeeper Andrea from six yards out. Unable to contain her emotions, the scorer wheels away, shouting with joy and tugging furiously at her shirt. This strike sealed Germany’s 2-0 win in the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007™ and the images of this celebratory sprint were soon being beamed around the world, helping to make it one of the most iconic moments in Women’s World Cup history.
Eight years later, Laudehr is still part of the national squad and is currently playing her part for Germany at the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™. While she may now be one of the team’s top performers rather than their rising star, she is still responsible for creating some special memories. This was the case once more in the Round of 16 match against Sweden when the 28-year-old chased after a long ball on the right wing but was unable to catch up with it.
The midfielder was carrying so much momentum as she sprinted after the pass that she could not stop herself when she reached the advertising boards around the edge of the pitch. Instead she tumbled over them before reappearing on the other side a few moments later, prompting loud applause from the delighted fans inside Ottawa’s Lansdowne Stadium. “I thought they’d enjoy that, but I just couldn’t stop myself and hung for what felt like two minutes with my legs in the air because I really didn’t want to fall over the top. It didn’t quite work,” the 2007 world champion later told FIFA.com with a laugh.
It is no surprise that she was not so relaxed about the incident, as it was about the only aspect of her appearance that did not go to plan. Capped 91 times for her country, the German international delivered an outstanding performance against the Scandinavians, contributing significantly to her country’s 4-1 win and their progression to the quarter-finals. Laudehr worked industriously down the right wing for the full 90 minutes, helping to win the ball at the back and getting involved in practically every attacking move up front.
“I wouldn’t have expected such a clear result, but I had a good feeling before the match, both for me and the team as a whole,” the 1. FFC Frankfurt player reflected. It was an intuition she was right to trust as the Swedes struggled to halt the midfielder’s forays into their half. “I’m always motivated to do my best,” she added afterwards, “but form on the day is definitely a factor. I generally want to be bold and push forward and create opportunities for my team-mates, but also make some moves of my own. It was a lot of fun and I was really happy with how the game played out.”
Her enthusiasm was clear to see and will doubtless be equally evident against France in the next round, but despite her excellent performance, Laudehr still managed to find areas for improvement. “We’ve still got to work on our defence and positioning, and we’ve also got to make sure we convert our chances more clinically in the next match,” she explained, qualifying her comments by admitting that it is a “luxury” to be worrying about such issues.
There is no doubt that Germany controlled their match against the Scandinavians and imposed their style of play on their opponents – something the French will need to be ready for. Although a series of positional changes made Laudehr and her team-mates unpredictable and enabled them to create one opportunity after another, they failed to convert many of these chances. The 28-year-old was similarly unlucky in front of goal as her two attempts were foiled by goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.
“She got to the first-half shot well, just as she did before the 3-0 [Celia Sasic netted with the rebound – editor’s note]. I got the feeling today that the goalkeeper was dead set against me getting a goal,” the midfielder said in frustration, before quickly adding: “But if it’s not me, then somebody else just needs to score instead. What matters most is that we win.”
No matter how unselfish a player is, every single one of them would ultimately like to find the target themselves – and that includes Laudehr: “Obviously I’d have nothing against scoring an important goal, in the quarter-final or perhaps one of the games after that.” If she does, will another of her famous celebratory sprints be beamed around the world once more? We may not have to wait long to find out.