Germany had won the last two UEFA European Under-18 Championship titles in 2000 and 2001 and were determined to complete a hat-trick in the first U19 finals in Sweden. They duly did, their triumph masterminded by Viola Odebrecht.
One of the products of the famed 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam youth system, midfielder Odebrecht was only 15 when she made her Frauen-Bundesliga debut in 1998 and was soon part of the national-team set-up. She made her first competitive appearance in qualifying for the 2001 U18 finals and Germany were to win every match she played in European youth tournaments.
Having scored in their 2001 final success, Odebrecht returned to provide the heart of Germany's 2002 U19 bid. She was superb in the opening 3-2 win against Les Bleuettes, player of the match for that game and again in the 2-0 victory against Spain in which she made the first goal and scored the second. A 1-0 result against the hosts took Germany through but Odebrecht picked up an ankle injury and did not start the semi-final against England.
Although Germany led that game 1-0 at half-time, they lacked their usual midfield dominance so Odebrecht was introduced. It helped Germany improve and hold off their opponents, and so old rivals France awaited in the final. Sandrine Rouquet put France ahead but, inspired by Odebrecht, Germany hit back through Isabelle Bachor and Barbara Müller. With 20 minutes left Odebrecht struck herself, and was yet again voted player of the match by UEFA's Technical Study Group.
Those youth honours were just the start for Odebrecht, who made her senior debut the next year and ended 2003 as part of the winning squad at the FIFA Women's World Cup. That was followed in 2004 by a German double with Potsdam and an Olympic bronze medal, before helping her club to the UEFA Women's Cup. She then left for the United States, becoming a star player for the Florida State University Senimoles and being voted into the All-American squad by Soccer Buzz magazine.
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