Steffi Jones has been the backbone of the German defence ever since making her debut in a 3-1 defeat against Denmark 12 years ago, and on Saturday became the 14th player from her country to amass 100 caps.
The 32-year-old is strong in the air and on the ground and also possesses excellent passing skills. During her career she has won the 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, although she suffered cruciate damage in the group stage and missed the final, and UEFA European Women's Championships in 1997, 2001, when she was the Player of the Match in the final victory against Sweden, and 2005. Along with a string of domestic titles for Frankfurt, the defender also lifted the inaugural UEFA Women's Cup in 2002.
Saturday marks another milestone for the likeable Jones, as she joined the 100 club in the Group 4 qualifier against Switzerland in Ulm. "It's a real highlight in my career," said the central defender. "I would never have dreamed of reaching 100 caps when I started out. I started playing football at the age of about four but when I was 15 I watched players such as Heidi Mohr, [current Germany coach] Silvia Neid and Martina Voss in action on TV and that is when I decided that I had to make it to international level.
"I was really excited when I was first included in the squad and I still get the very same feeling when I see my name on the list these days." When available, Jones has always been a natural pick in the heart of the best defence in women's football, although she temporarily retired in 2001 to concentrate on playing for Washington Freedom in the fledgling WUSA. Two years later a return to Frankfurt coincided with a return to the Germany fold.
Were it not for that self-imposed break, Jones would certainly have reached her century a year or two ago. Injuries in recent months have also prevented her from celebrating the landmark, with a blow to her knee sustained in a friendly against Canada in September ruling her out of the World Cup qualifying defeats of Russia and Scotland. Now fit and focused again, Jones is already looking to the future.
World Cup goal
"I will do everything I can to make the 2007 World Cup," she said. "I believe I will make the squad as long as I stay fit. I am sure that the coaches know my value for the team." They certainly do, as do her team-mates and supporters.
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