As Germany resume their campaign, Simone Laudehr talks to UEFA.com about their results so far, Silvia Neid's forthcoming departure and their Olympic dream.
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Simone Laudehr's Germany playing career has run in parallel with Silvia Neid's time as coach.
In 2004 under Neid, Laudehr was in the Germany team that reached the final of the UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship then won the FIFA U-19 Women's World Cup. Neid subsequently stepped up to the senior team and gave Laudehr her debut in 2007, when they lifted the FIFA Women's World Cup, followed by UEFA Women's EURO titles in 2009 and 2013.
Versatile FFC Frankfurt midfielder Laudehr, 29, remains crucial to the Germany side, but Neid will be bowing out after the 2016 Olympic tournament. Laudehr took 2008 bronze under Neid and together they will aim for Germany's first gold, but first come UEFA Women's EURO 2017 qualifiers in Turkey on Friday and against Croatia on Tuesday.
Germany have won all four Group 5 matches so far with 22 unanswered goals; Laudehr spoke to UEFA.com about the campaign thus far, Neid's forthcoming replacement by Steffi Jones and her own development.
UEFA.com: How would you assess UEFA Women's EURO qualifying?
Simone Laudehr: The good thing is that we have maximum points, winning every match and picking up all 12 points. There have been some matches, like against Croatia, which was pretty close, where we just didn't take advantage of the chances we created. But if you look at the results and the points, we are doing pretty well in top spot. And we plan on continuing that way.
UEFA.com: The next big tournament is the Olympics in Brazil. Germany's women have never won Olympic gold, so is that extra motivation?
Laudehr: It would certainly be nice to win an Olympic gold medal, but I have to say it was already a big achievement to win Olympic bronze and, in general, to have participated at the Games, experienced it and lived with other sportsmen and women in the Olympic village, including the other German athletes of course. And just to watch the other sports. Winning a medal was one of my greatest experiences, so it would be nice to achieve that again. It makes you want more.
UEFA.com: It will be the farewell tournament for your coach since 2005, Silvia Neid, and then Steffi Jones, already with the team as assistant coach, will take over. What do you think will change? Will there be a lot of changes or not many?
Laudehr: Well, Steffi Jones is with us already, but not as head coach. I think things will become clear when the change takes place. At the moment we're focusing on the ideas and objectives Silvia has. She is very ambitious, she wants to be successful and she has been showing that. We still have challenges ahead and we have been working on things according to her ideas. That is the focus right now. Then, when the change takes place, we can reassess. But at the moment she [Steffi Jones] is taking part in training, which is certainly important. But we're completely focused on Silvia as head coach.
UEFA.com: Looking at your own personal development as a player over the last few years, where would you say you have developed, or gained more experience?
Laudehr: I'm now among the more experienced players. I think the last year, six months before the World Cup, I took a big step forward. And the World Cup itself was pretty OK for me personally, although I think we deserved more with the team than we achieved [fourth place] – or more precisely, than we didn't achieve in the end. But I think the first six months of 2015 were a period where I took another step forward in my development and reached new levels. That's when I learned some things I didn't know or understand when I was younger.