Sara Däbritz is a constant in head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg’s squad. Tomorrow’s friendly against Chile (17:45 CEST) in Regensburg (the last one before the World Cup) will be a home game for the Amberg native.
The first time that Däbritz was called up, she wasn’t expecting it at all. She was sitting at her desk in Freiburg, studying for her economics exam. But, all that fell to the wayside since it was Silvia Neid on the phone, then the head coach of the women’s national team.
Alexandra Popp was injured, and unable to go to the European Championship in Sweden. Neid wanted Däbritz to join them—the 18-year-old had yet to play a single minute for the national team. That moment during the summer of 2013 saw Däbritz join the ranks of Germany’s best female footballers, a spot she hasn’t left since.
When her phone rang in the middle of May and head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg was on the other end, Däbritz knew what to expect. Six years after making her debut, the 24-year-old was among those expected to be in the squad for the World Cup in France from 7th June to 7th July. Däbritz has developed into a strong offensive midfielder, one that plays with vision, and is able to stay calm while in front of goal.
Däbritz has scored ten times in 59 appearances for the national team, also making 149 appearances for SC Freiburg and 38 for Bayern München in the Bundesliga. She is a veteran player who can make a difference on the pitch. Unlike six years ago, the only surprise would have been if Däbritz would have had to watch this summer’s World Cup on TV at home.
“The level of excitement is already very high,” Däbritz said ahead of the final pre-tournament test game against Chile in Regensburg. Several of her friends and family members will be watching from the stands. Däbritz was born in Amberg, so for her, it’s practically a home game. It’s the final days ahead of a massive tournament—one at which Däbritz and her teammates could make history. After winning the World Cup in 2003 and 2007, as well as eight European Championship titles, the team is looking to reverse its recent run of trophy-less tournament appearances.
The expectations placed on the German team have always been high. “We also have high expectations for ourselves and want to be successful,” said Däbritz. “I think this World Cup will be bigger and more exciting than ever before. So many teams have the potential to win the title. Everything will have to go as planned.”
Sara Däbritz experienced what it feels like when everything goes as planned during her first big tournament. After making her debut during a 4-2 win against Japan on 29th June 2013 in front of 46,104 fans in the Allianz Arena, Däbritz picked up her second cap during the Euros. In the third group stage match, Däbritz was subbed on for Lena Lotzen in the 80th minute. Eleven days later, she stood under a confetti shower and was holding the trophy in her hands.
That was followed by the unforgettable highlight of the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil. During the opening match against Zimbabwe, Däbritz scored a header to make it 1-0, as well as halving the deficit against Australia (2-1), before making it 2-0 against Canada in the semifinals. Finally, after the 2-1 win in the final against Sweden, she was an Olympic champion. But, just a year later Germany bowed out in the quarterfinal at the Euros against the Netherlands—her first real low with the team. Däbritz remained professional while processing the massive disappointment.
The reason why it will all be different this time around? “We all grew from it, and the 2017 Euros helped us all to scrutinize everything,” said Däbritz. “We’re on a really good path with Martina and the rest of the coaching staff—we’re continuing to improve ourselves and are playing good football. But, it’s difficult to say what the result will be.” Däbritz thinks the team has a good mix of veteran and young, talented players. For Däbritz, the team’s strengths lie in their passing game, the ability to maintain accuracy at a high tempo, and their strong spirit. Strengths that Däbritz also supports through her personality and way of playing.
From SpVgg Weiden via SpVgg Ebermanndorf and JFG Vilstal Rieden where she had always played with the boys, Däbritz joined Bundesliga side SC Freiburg and made her debut at just 16 years of age against Bayern München. In 2015, she joined München, the side against which she made her debut in a 3-0 loss. That Bayern had chances to take home a title in the league, the DFB-Pokal, and the Champions League that year but ended up leaving empty-handed is something that she’s put behind her by always focusing on the next challenge ahead.
This is the start of a new chapter for Däbritz, who has developed into a seasoned player. As of next season, she will play for Paris St-Germain in France. “I was looking for a new challenge, and I think spending time abroad will be beneficial to me,” said Däbritz. “That’s always been a dream of mine, one that I’ve managed to achieve.” And, just maybe, one dream will be followed by another—this time at the World Cup in France.