Denmark defender Line Røddik Hansen is aiming to help Barcelona to their first UEFA Women's Champions League final, and she spoke to UEFA.com about life as a professional at the club.
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Barcelona's men may have gone out to Juventus on Wednesday, but the club are ensured one UEFA Champions League semi-final this season.
For the first time, Barcelona have made the UEFA Women's Champions League semis and they welcome Paris Saint-Germain for Saturday's first leg. Unlike the cosmopolitan men, Barça's female squad is largely Spanish with the notable exception of Brazilian Andressa Alves and versatile Denmark defender Line Røddik Hansen.
Røddik Hansen, 29, joined Barcelona last summer having spent the first half of 2016 at Lyon, and after helping the Blaugrana eliminate her former side Rosengård she told UEFA.com how the move came about and about life as a full-time professional.
On reaching the semi-final ...
It means everything [for us] to reach the semi-finals. As people say here, it's a historic moment because Barcelona women’s have never made it further than the quarters. Reaching the semi-finals is special and history-making. It means a lot for the club because the women’s team have got more and more attention recently and are becoming more professional. This will carry on and on. Perhaps reaching the semi-finals was not our primary objective but, having done so, we’ve shown the team can continue developing.
On joining Barcelona ...
I was at Lyon and was very happy there, but then Barcelona contacted me and they said they were interested in me. Lyon understood and agreed that it was probably a good move and a better place for me if I wanted to improve, because I would have the chance to play a bigger role and have more responsibility on the pitch, and therefore grow as a player. On top of that, Barcelona appealed to me.
Spanish women's football has grown, and I had a feeling it would be exciting to be part of that. They had a good team and good facilities. There were many things that convinced me that Barcelona would suit me.
On settling in Spain ...
When you come to a new country, with a new language and a new culture, both in terms of football and in general, you grow a lot as a person. You face brand-new challenges that you've never faced before.
I played in Sweden before and that was far away from home, but this is even further. On the other hand, it's a new playing style, which I believe has forced me to develop as a player. It's faster and more technical, and because I experience that every day now, it's made me faster and made me play faster. At least that's what I've been told.
On going fully professional ...
One of the biggest problems in Denmark is that players have to have a full-time job away from football. They play for the national team and they should be professionals and focus on football, but they need another job in order to get by. Or they have to finish their education faster because their student grant won't last. These things shouldn't be a concern for a professional footballer.
I don't know if you can call yourself professional; you can't focus 100% on your career. That's one of the main things that needs improving. Players require the opportunity to focus on their careers. I'm happy that I took the plunge and went abroad where I could focus, although I studied too, but it wasn't as stressful because I knew that my making a living didn't depend on it. So that needs improvement. And we need more attention – the more the media showcase us, the better visibility we will have.
On playing for Lyon ...
Although I was only there five or six months, so many things happened. It was so cool to be part of a club like that and to try to break into the best team around. Maybe they are still the best now. Unfortunately I wasn't able to play in the Champions League [having already represented Rosengård] and it felt strange when the club won the tournament and I couldn't play. But being part of a team that won everything was just wonderful.
Having said that, once again I felt under pressure because I'd moved from Sweden and had to adapt to a new playing style that's also faster and more technical. I really had to work hard every single day, in every training session, because otherwise I had no chance of getting selected for the team.