Title hoardersWomen’s football enjoys great awareness and popularity in Germany, not least because it has a great ambassador for it in the form of the women’s national team. Not only have the DFB Women developed into one of the most successful teams in the world with two World Cups and eight European Championships under their belt, but they also gain a great amount of recognition and respect.
Women’s football reached a new dimension with the 2011 World Cup. Never before had the interest in the sport been as high – and the big crowd puller was the Germany team. As many as 19 million people tuned in to watch the DFB Women’s games, the stadiums were sold out, the news outlets were providing more coverage than ever before and everyone was behind the DFB Women and crossing their fingers, hoping that they could celebrate a third straight World Cup win.
Unfortunately, the dream didn’t become reality. Nevertheless, the Germany women’s national team were still winners at the end of the tournament: Even though Silvia Neid’s side were knocked out after extra time in the quarterfinals to eventual winners Japan, the world was left astonished by the huge interest in women’s football, something that Germany had triggered over recent years with great performances and a long list of successes, something they added to in 2013: The DFB Women claimed their eighth European Championship, despite taking a newly formed and rejuvenated squad to Sweden following an injury crisis. The final against Norway in Solna entered the history books of women’s football: Captain Nadine Angerer became the hero after saving two penalties, as Germany went on to win 1-0 thanks to Anja Mittag’s goal. It was the happy ending that the DFB Women were hoping for after a difficult tournament that a young team with an average age of just 23.5 years old found success in thanks to team spirit and perseverance – a tournament full of drama that will stick in the memories of many for a long time.
The same applies to tournaments past. The team’s popularity has manifested itself in moments that so many people will look back on. Around twelve million people watched on television when Nadine Angerer saved Marta’s penalty against Brazil in the World Cup final on September 30th 2007, when Birgit Prinz scored the opening goal, when Simone Laudehr showed off her six-pack after making it 2-0 and when the team lifted the trophy.
There were similar scenes four years earlier that stick in the mind. On October 12th 2003, it was Nia Künzer who scored the “golden goal” with a header in extra time to beat Sweden 2-1 in the World Cup final – a goal that was seen in news programmes around the world and as a result increased the publicity surrounding the Germany women’s national team.
The 2003 and 2007 World Cup triumphs are the biggest successes in the still relatively short history of the women’s team, but they didn’t happen by chance. The DFB Women have been writing a unique success story ever since their 5-1 win over Switzerland in their first international match on November 10th 1982 in Koblenz.
The Germany women’s team had hardly existed seven years before they immortalised themselves in the list of winners of a prestigious tournament for the first time: Coach Gero Bisanz led Germany to a surprise title-win at the 1989 European Championship. The players did much more than add to the trophy cabinet at the DFB headquarters in Frankfurt am Main – they had received major public awareness for the first time.
The semi-final against Italy in Siegen was the first women’s international match that was aired live on German television. It was a thrilling encounter that caught the attention of football fans. The tension of the game was clear to see when Germany goalkeeper Marion Isbert broke down in tears after emerging as the match-winner in the penalty shootout.
The response from this footballing feast was overwhelming. The ‘Stadion an der Bremer Brücke’ was sold out for the final in Osnabrück. Countless fans ended up watching the game from the ticket booths as they could no longer get tickets for the match. Yet another entertaining game ensued and Germany ended up beating favourites Norway 4-1.
It was the first chapter of the story that has followed. Over the years, the Germany women’s national team has developed into one of the dominant forces in Europe and has now won a total of eight European Championships. The team continue to receive recognition: Birgit Prinz has been voted FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year on three occasions, while Nadine Angerer also received the award in 2013. The national team’s success story is completed by three bronze medals at the Olympic Games: 2000 in Sydney, 2004 in Athens and 2008 in Beijing.