Nadine Angerer's apprenticeship as Silke Rottenberg's back-up Germany goalkeeper lasted a decade. It also left her in good stead when it came to taking over as first choice.
Angerer's senior Germany debut was on 27 August 1996, a 3-0 defeat of the Netherlands, and she did not concede in her four appearances that year. However, the presence of Rottenberg meant that, although Angerer went to the 1997, 2001 and 2005 UEFA Women's EUROs and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup – all of which Germany won – she did not play a minute, just as in Germany's runs to 2000 and 2004 Olympic bronze.
However, prior to the 2007 World Cup, with only six competitive outings to her name, Angerer was promoted thanks to an injury that would eventually end Rottenberg's international career. Angerer took her chance with aplomb, setting a record by not conceding a goal as Germany held onto their title. She was automatic No1 by the time she got her opportunity at UEFA Women's EURO 2009, where they won once again.
However, the build-up to Sweden 2013 was not so smooth. Germany had exited the 2011 World Cup as hosts in the quarter-finals, and Angerer – now captain – was sidelined for much of 2012 with cartilage damage. There were doubts, yet she put them to rest once at the 2013 finals.
Germany started slowly but made it through the group stage with a game to spare after drawing 0-0 with the Netherlands and beating Iceland 3-0, though they did lose 1-0 to Norway with progress assured. That was to be the only goal Angerer shipped on her way to matching previous skipper Birgit Prinz's record of five European crowns.
In the quarter-finals Italy were overcome 1-0 though it was in the last four where things stepped up a gear as hosts Sweden awaited, many people's favourites to oust the holders. Germany, however, had other ideas and clung on for another 1-0 victory, Angerer and her defence unbreachable under massive pressure.
They would get better still. The final ended 1-0, yet that hardly tells the story as in both halves Angerer saved a penalty, first from Trine Rønning then from Solveig Gulbrandsen, the 36-year-old – winning her 124th cap – galvanising her team-mates with exuberant celebrations after each stop. Angerer was named player of the match and later the first official UEFA Women's EURO player of the tournament, and coach Silvia Neid explained how her custodian's return to fitness had been hard-earned.
"I met Nadine Angerer in November and we had a long conversation," Neid said. "We said that fitness is important if you want to be a good goalkeeper and we both agreed on that. We met in February and she had worked hard during the winter break. You could see she was much better when it came to her ability to jump and physical flexibility. This tournament and this match are reward for the hard work she did over the winter."
As for Angerer herself, she pointed to some soul-searching after the loss to Norway, the first she had experienced in the competition, even as a substitute. "We sat down together and said we couldn't continue like that," she revealed. "We had a lot of young players who were thrown in at the deep end. They didn't get a chance to enjoy the tournament and just play for maybe ten minutes. They had to take responsibility from the beginning and that helped us to improve and thankfully it ended positively."
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