Not many people have won major honours as both player and coach but Silvia Neid is in that select band.
Appointed Germany coach in 2005, having previously assisted Tina Theune-Meyer and led the youth team to the 2004 world title, Neid triumphed in her first major tournament at the 2007 FIFA Women's World Cup without conceding a goal. She repeated that feat at UEFA Women's EURO 2009, though she had already lifted the continental trophy as a player.
Neid was part of the first West Germany side in 1982 and competed in the first two editions of the European Competition for Women's Football when she captained them on home soil in the 1989 finals and led them to a 4-1 win in the final in Osnabruck in front of 22,000 people. "Winning the European title was a key moment for German women's football," Neid said.
"It was kind of a breakthrough because eventually the tournament gained great attention in Germany. The semi-final against Italy was the first women's game ever to be broadcast live on German television. And this game was a thriller. We won the game on penalties. It is one of the most memorable pictures of my career seeing our goalkeeper Marion Isbert scoring the winning penalty. She was so relieved to put that ball in the back of the net. All our tension came out in a blast and we were celebrating.
"The game drew a lot of attention, as we realised a couple of days later when we arrived at the stadium in Osnabruck for the final. So many people gathered around the stadium that the game was quickly sold out. There were even people standing outside the stadium who could not get a ticket. Because of the large number of spectators the game was delayed to give the spectators a little more time to get in. And the final itself was also a memorable game. We were the underdogs against Norway, but we had another great day and landed a sensational 4-1 win. I will never forget it."
Two years later a united Germany team, again skippered by Neid, showed it was no fluke in the first UEFA European Women's Championship. The midfielder, still only 27, helped Germany to the final in Denmark, where they were to take on Norway. Gero Bisanz's side fell behind, but two Heidi Mohr goals turned the game and with four minutes left Neid struck to clinch a 3-1 win. No nation other than Germany themselves have ever claimed back-to-back European Championships. "Defending the title two years later was proof [of the development], Neid said. "It made us really proud and you cannot give enough credit to Gero Bisanz – he masterminded the success."
Neid eventually retired in 1996 with more than 100 caps to her name but, having been marked out early by coaching guru Bisanz as a potential future trainer, she had already been learning her trade. Neid joined Theuene-Meyer's coaching team, aiding and then leading the continued dominance of the Germany squad.
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