Two years on from winning the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, Germany's Martina Müller joined VfL Wolfsburg, who were promptly relegated.
Eight years later she is still there and preparing for Thursday's UEFA Women's Champions League final against Olympique Lyonnais at Stamford Bridge, with Wolfsburg already having clinched their first German double. The 33-year-old midfielder spoke to UEFA.com about her time at Wolfsburg and the Lyon encounter.
UEFA.com: You have been at Wolfsburg for a long time now, since 2005, and when you arrived the club was about to go into the second division. Can you speak about the journey from there to here?
Martina Müller: When I hear eight and a half years it sounds very long, but it doesn't feel that long for me. When I hear it I cannot believe it, but, of course, we have been on a long journey that started in the second division. From the start we played as a team and we were promoted right away. We must congratulate the club because they made it possible for the team to stay together. That helped us with the promotion.
UEFA.com: Did the love for Wolfsburg grow with time?
Müller: It was great here in Wolfsburg right from the start. I started to work in the office of VfL Wolfsburg and it is like a family, like a big family, you always have that impression from the moment you arrive here. That is why I could imagine myself staying here. And the second division was the right step for me because it was a lot of fun and we were able to celebrate some success, and the biggest success was the promotion right away. What followed afterwards showed that it was the right decision.
UEFA.com: How have you developed since?
Müller: We have developed year by year. It doesn't work if players give only 60% week in week out. I had only played for teams that were in the middle of the table, or battling against relegation and needing to fight week in week out. That influenced me a lot as a player, that is why I always gave my best with the national team even though I wasn't the first choice. I always tried to give my best and I always gave everything for VfL Wolfsburg and for the national team. The years here in Wolfsburg really influenced me.
UEFA.com: Why are German clubs so dominant in this competition?
Müller: I cannot speak for the other teams, I can only talk about VfL Wolfsburg. There is so much work done in the background, the club does so much for us and makes sure that we move forward, and we have seen that in the last few years. We can now reap what we sowed in the last few years, and that is also the case for other clubs. It starts with the work within the clubs and is transposed to the national team with the work that the German FA does. The cooperation works really well and that is why German football is this successful.
UEFA.com: Has Wolfsburg's immediate European success surprised you?
Müller: We knew that we had a quality squad, but we didn't expect things would work out so quickly. That is why it is even more enjoyable that we found ourselves so quickly as a team and that we are getting more mature and can start celebrating our success.
UEFA.com: Lyon are clearly strong opponents but you will not be hiding ...
Müller: No. If we are going to hide then we can stay here in Wolfsburg. We know that Olympique Lyonnais are a strong team who have won a lot of titles, and they have great players in their squad, but they have to play at their best in that game, and so do we. I hope it will be an interesting and even game and I hope that in the end the winning team will be the one which makes the least mistakes. And I hope that will be us.
UEFA.com: Against Arsenal in London in the semi-finals, the fans were supporting the home team. Now, in the final, do you think they will be on your side as underdogs?
Müller: First of all, there will be a lot of fans coming from Wolfsburg who will support us. All the fan trips are fully booked. I know that a lot of family members have booked their trips. The second advantage is that we will have an all-German men's Champions League final and many of the fans will already be in London – I hope a few of them will come to watch our game and support us. That will give us a boost.
UEFA.com: How important would a European title be? A domestic title is different because it rewards a whole season. One game, one final is different. Can you compare them?
Müller: It is completely different. You need to be ready and play at your best on that day. It can happen that you are not at the right level on that day and do not win the trophy, but for us it is important to be in the final and that we play a good game. What happens in the end we will see, and then we will either celebrate the win or celebrate what we have achieved during the whole season.
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