Birgit Prinz won five UEFA European Women's Championship titles in as many attempts in her career. And it was in the first in 1995 that the striker announced herself to the world.
The 1. FFC Frankfurt player made her Germany debut aged 16 in July 1994 and on her first competitive appearance two months later scored twice in an 8-0 qualifying win against Croatia. She added another in the second leg of the semi-final against England, taking her goal tally to five despite not having yet started an international. Indeed, the 17-year-old was a substitute in the final in Kaiserslautern against Sweden, but when she was brought on after 61 minutes the score was still 1-1. Three minutes later, Prinz had put Germany into a lead they never relinquished in a 3-2 win.
"I was very excited being part of the team that made it to the final of the European Championship in 1995," Prinz told UEFA.com. "It was my first final with the national team. At the age of 17 I was one of the most inexperienced players in the squad. Nevertheless the situation was not brand new to me since I had ten caps already. Like in all the previous games I was sitting on the bench at kick-off.
"Our coach, Gero Bisanz, used to use me during the second half. So he did in Kaiserslautern against Sweden. I was sent into the game for Patrizia Brocker. I was so happy to get the chance to play in such a big game. I felt that this was a huge opportunity for me. And as the young player I was at that time I was totally optimistic that this was a winning situation for me. When I entered the pitch the game was 1-1. Two minutes later I scored the goal which put us in front. Bettina Wiegmann decided the game six minutes from time. Although the Swedish team scored a second goal we won the game 3-2.
"I was absolutely delighted, not knowing just how well the European Championship would develop in the upcoming years. In 1995 even the semi-final was like a play-off, with home and away games against England. Through time the EURO has grown not only to a full-scale tournament but to a great event in European football calendar."
Prinz, of course, grew into a full-scale star. She won 214 caps and scored 128 international goals, secured victories in the five European finals including scoring in the 1997, 2005 and 2009 deciders, and lifted the 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women's World Cups. Not to mention three Olympic bronze medals, three FIFA Women's World Player of the Year awards plus manifold honours with Frankfurt including three UEFA Women's Cups, and the WUSA championship in her short spell in the United States with Carolina Courage. She retired in 2011, the only European male or female to have won more than 200 caps.
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