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Belgium's Tessa Wullaert on statistics, Women's EURO motivation and her pet hate

"My favourite thing about football is winning," the Red Flames' all-time top scorer told the official UEFA Women's EURO TikTok team as she prepared to return to England for the finals.

Tessa Wullaert with the Belgium masterplan
Tessa Wullaert with the Belgium masterplan BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

Belgium's all-time top scorer with 65 goals, former Wolfsburg and Manchester City forward Tessa Wullaert sat down for a chat with the @womensfootball team, and explained how important confidence is, how much she hates losing and why she called her dog Jean-Marie.

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You won the Belgian title with Anderlecht and were the league's player of the season: how does that feel ahead of such a big summer?

Meet the teams: Belgium

I think I’ve done well. My team did well as well – we won the double, which is always nice. So, yes, I think that gives us an extra boost, an extra boost of confidence, going into the EURO. Confidence is one of the biggest things, as an attacker. I really need it in my game because I’m a girl that dribbles a lot and is in the box a lot. If you have confidence, you shoot at goal and you try to score, so it’s a huge thing.

[Lots of the team have grown in] confidence this season, but I don’t think that’s anything compared to the level we will have at the EURO, so I think we'll really need to step up our game.

What is your favourite thing about football?

My favourite thing about football is winning. I hate losing, even besides football, I hate losing: when I’m playing a game with my boyfriend on holiday, or anything like that – I hate losing. It’s something inside me; I can’t help it.

Wullaert celebrates winning the FA Cup in 2019 with Manchester City
Wullaert celebrates winning the FA Cup in 2019 with Manchester CityGetty Images

How do you feel about facing Iceland, France and Italy in the group stage?

There are no easy groups at the EURO. So, we’ll just have to give it our all. The first game will decide a lot; it’s against Iceland. I think if we lose that game, then I think we can say that we will be out of the tournament. So, I think the main goal is to win the first game, and give everything against France and Italy. We’ll see how we do but I think reaching the second round is our goal because in 2017, we didn’t manage to get there. So, yes, that’s our ambition for this tournament.

Who is the best player in the Belgium side?

In my team? Can I say myself? I am all about statistics and I think I’m doing quite well.

We’ve got some young players too. But I think Sarah Wijnants from my [Anderlecht] team is getting really strong and physical. She’s the best long [distance] runner I’ve seen. She can run marathons. I think she’ll be good, and will surprise us. Other than that, we have some youngsters: Hannah Eurlings, Sari Kees – who I think is a really good defender too. I’m excited to see how they will cope with all the pressure, the crowd, and the noise as well.

Jean-Marie Pfaff, namesake of Tessa Wullaert's dog
Jean-Marie Pfaff, namesake of Tessa Wullaert's dogPopperfoto via Getty Images

What is your dog's name?

My dog’s name is Jean-Marie. I don’t know if any of the followers know Jean-Marie Pfaff. He was a well-known, famous Belgium goalkeeper, who played at Bayern. Actually he’s got blonde curls, and my dog is a Goldendoodle, so he has blonde curls as well.

How do you prepare for a big game?

I’m not really superstitious because I always say [that] if anything happens and you can’t do your ritual, then you are maybe out of your focus and that’s not a good thing. So, I don’t try to be really superstitious but what I do before training and every game is eat a banana because it gives me a good feeling, and it fills me up really well, and gives me good energy.

Who’s your favourite player to play against?

I enjoy playing against England because there are some girls that I’ve played with [at Manchester City] and I now play against them, so like Kiera Walsh and then Georgia Stanway, and Stephanie [Houghton]. They are really nice girls and I think they are really good footballers. I miss playing with them.

I played with [Iceland's] Sara [Björk] Gunnarsdóttir at Wolfsburg, so it would be nice to see her back as well, and maybe have a little chat after a game, not before a game.

Wullaert with her nails painted yellow (for now)
Wullaert with her nails painted yellow (for now)BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images

What do you think of the Belgium shirt for the finals?

It’s actually the first time that we have our own shirt, which is really nice. I really like the black one, but the yellow one is also really nice. It’s got a pattern motif in it, so I like them both. I think I’m going to paint my nails red so that I’ve got all the colours of Belgium.

Is there any other sport that you’re also great at, other than football?

Before I [started] playing football when I was five, I [used to] dance, but I was so bad at it, so I stopped. I played tennis, I was really good at tennis too, but if I’d have [broke] through in tennis, I’d [be] too critical of myself, so I’d destroy myself if I lost a game!

So, that’s why it’s better to play a team sport, where you can just discuss with other players, share the win or the loss, and don’t blame anyone for it.

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