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Something rather unusual happened two years ago – Germany, as hosts, did not win the FIFA Women's World Cup. It was the first time since 1999 they had gone to the final tournament of that competition or the UEFA European Women's Championship and not lifted the trophy, and their last-eight loss to Japan meant they also missed out on competing at the 2012 Olympics.
Goalkeeper Nadine Angerer has been involved in all those events, initially as Silke Rottenberg's understudy and then, from the 2007 World Cup, as first choice. She will captain Germany at UEFA Women's EURO 2013 in Sweden this July as they aim for a sixth straight continental title, and the 1. FFC Frankfurt custodian spoke to UEFA.com about instilling the "arrogance" in the new generation that served previous squads well.
UEFA.com: Is there still disappointment from the World Cup?
Nadine Angerer: Well, we should come to terms with the World Cup but you can't deny it was a little setback for us all. It was certainly also frustrating not to participate at the Olympic Games, but it was nice to hear the foreign players at Frankfurt say, "Luckily Germany are not participating," because that shows the reputation our team still have.
UEFA.com: Usually, though, Germany are a 'tournament team' – why?
Angerer: I don't know. Maybe it is our mentality, that we have a lot of respect for each other, and that we are honest to each other and open to each other, so everybody knows where he or she stands. Of course you get along with some better than others, but in general there is a great honesty and openness, and this shows you have to respect each other. So maybe this could be a reason.
UEFA.com: Germany have won every European title since 1995. Does this mean extra pressure?
Angerer: You can feel it in a way – that the streak could end – but I see it differently: that it's great we have the chance to extend this streak. So you go to a tournament eager to continue the run. I would like to extend our winning streak, but we have great competition from France, England and Sweden, so it's not going to be easy.
UEFA.com: Your qualifying form was excellent, though ...
Angerer: Well, we have incorporated a lot of new young players and this happened parallel to EURO qualification – and of course it doesn't work overnight. The draw in Spain put us under a bit of pressure, but then we won at home against the Spanish – a match which could have ended differently – and that was like a turning point.
UEFA.com: Did that restore your confidence?
Angerer: We have to prove ourselves in every game and we still don't have that consistency, the routines in the team, that positive arrogance. But it will come – it's not something you can demand overnight from young players. They also need time to settle into the team. And they have to adapt quicker than we did in the past, so it's important that each player works hard to be confident, and then to bring this confidence into the team.
UEFA.com: Which of the young players could come of age in Sweden?
Angerer: I can't give any names, but I can say we have some really great young players who are all very talented and can have a great future. I'm thinking about Dzsenifer Marozsán, Leonie Maier, Luisa Wensing, to give a few examples. They are all great talents. But they are all pretty young. It's a great generation – though for me they are a bit too nice. They could be more insolent, but that's normal when you are new to the national team. Yet when this generation develops, there is a lot of potential.
UEFA.com: What do you think of your Group B opponents, Norway, Netherlands and Iceland.
Angerer: Well, I know Norway have a new coach [Even Pellerud] with whom they became Olympic champions in 2000. They went through a little down period in the last couple of years, but worked their way out of it and just won against Japan. They are very strong physically, strong in the challenge, they fight hard, and are always good at scoring goals.
The Netherlands have developed well too. They have been playing in a combined Belgian and Dutch league, which is a great challenge for players to develop well individually and then bring that to the national team. So the development there is positive. And Iceland are like all Scandinavian teams – physically strong, strong in duels – so you don't beat Iceland 4-0 or 5-0, those days are over.
UEFA.com: You have been to many of these final tournaments – do you relish them?
Angerer: I'm totally crazy and can't even lose in training, so yes! I have my own personal ranking and for me a World Cup or EURO means more than the Olympic Games – because while it's nice to be at the Olympics, I feel it's different because you live somewhere outside and don't really experience anything of the Games. At a EURO or World Cup the focus is clearly on us and that's why it's a different highlight. It has a different intensity compared with the Olympics, but I would like to win Olympic gold one day.
UEFA.com: In the past the biggest criticism of women's football was the goalkeeping – was that fair and has it improved?
Angerer: First, I have to say the goalkeepers were criticised fairly. There is still a lot of room for improvement, and there are certain reasons why. In Germany it was only me and Silke, and we didn't have a goalkeeper coach. Yes, we could be happy that Silke and I had a lot of talent, but at the end of the 90s and beginning of the millennium we didn't have any goalkeeper coaches and so learned everything by ourselves.
In other countries – in South America or Asia for example – the role of the goalkeeper was not as important as here in Europe, and then you had certain performances based on that gap. But I think the reason has been that goalkeepers haven't been promoted and trained well enough. But in Germany we don't have to worry – we have many great talents.
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