At just 17 years of age, Lena Oberdorf is the youngest member of Germany’s Women’s World Cup squad. Head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has put a lot of faith in the young talent and Oberdorf started the group game against Spain. In an interview ahead of the DFB-Frauen’s quarter-final against Sweden on Saturday (18:30 CEST), Lena Oberdorf spoke about her first start for the senior team and her role models in the squad.
DFB.de: You have enjoyed some very successful weeks recently. How are things going today, Miss Oberdorf?
Lena Oberdorf: The whole team had a day off on Tuesday to recharge their batteries ahead of our return to training at full intensity today. The atmosphere in the camp is good and we feel very comfortable ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final. I’m also feeling good as a result.
DFB.de: This is your first tournament with the senior national team. How have you found settling into the setup with your new teammates?
Oberdorf: The team integrates new players very quickly and I have found my place in the team very quickly. Everyone speaks to everyone and we share a lot of laughs together. Although I am the youngest player in the squad, you can barely see the difference in age between me and the other players.
DFB.de: How does this correspond into matches?
Oberdorf: I have received clear instructions from the head coach (Voss-Tecklenburg) for every match situation. I should bring composure onto the pitch and break up the play with fewer touches of the ball. This is something I have done well at my position so far. As I have played in multiple positions for my club, it certainly wasn’t a problem to take up less of an attacking role for the national team.
DFB.de: You made your debut start for the Germany senior team in the group stages against Spain? How did you find taking on such a high amount of responsibility as a young player?
Oberdorf: I said to myself before every match that it is the same scenario as it has been for several years now. It is just a normal football match. I simply only think about giving the best possible performance I can in my position during matches. I also say to myself and I shouldn’t let my head drop if things do not go to plan. I continue to run and work hard as well as not putting myself under pressure if things do not work out.
DFB.de: At the current Women’s World Cup, you are playing with a lot of experienced players. Do you have role models in the squad who inspire you?
Oberdorf: I don’t have any role models as such. I don’t strive to have a player’s full personality, instead individual characteristics to improve my game such as Alexandra Popp’s heading ability, Dzsenifer Marozsán’s technique or Svenja Huth’s pace. I can learn a lot of things from my teammates when we train together. However, I also learn a lot off the pitch too. This includes how to give interviews (grins).
DFB.de: You helped Germany became U17 European Champions in 2017 before playing at the U20s World Cup. What differences are there between these tournaments and the Women’s World Cup with the senior team?
Oberdorf: There is a lot more interest in the senior team and a lot more journalists wait to interview us at press conferences or in the mixed zone. The pressure and interest grows at a major tournament and expectations are higher than what I’m used to. However, there aren’t many differences within the squad across the age groups. As previously mentioned, I may be the youngest player in the squad but I have welcomed into the squad very well by my teammates.
DFB.de: You started playing football at a very young age and developed through the DFB’s youth teams? What made you start playing football?
Oberdorf: My brothers always used to play football with my dad in the garden and from a young age, I wanted to play with them. As I grew up, my parents signed me up to my first team: TuS Ennepetal. I then joined TSG Sprockhövel before joining Bundesliga side SGS Essen last year.
DFB.de: How much support do you still receive from your parents?
Oberdorf: They have been at every match so far this World Cup and they will also be in France for the quarter-final. If I have to coordinate my way between training and school, they pick me up to take me to or from school. Even if there are unexpected or unscheduled matches or meetings planned, they are there to support me.