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Austria playmaker Knauseder aiming for the stars

Austria schemer Teresa Knauseder discussed with UEFA.com her aspirations, Monday's final group game against Italy and the state of women's football in her country.

Teresa Knauseder would be open to furthering her career abroad
Teresa Knauseder would be open to furthering her career abroad ©Sportsfile

There were plenty of positives for Austria to take from their matchday two defeat by England, not least the outstanding performance of playmaker Teresa Knauseder.

Pulling the strings in midfield, the 16-year-old dazzled with aesthetic qualities. Her elegant touch and magical feet are complemented by a steely core of endurance, making her a coach's dream. "I feel so proud when I'm wearing the shirt," enthused Knauseder, who quickly set about fine-tuning her gift after falling in love with the game from a tender age.

"I started playing when I was five or six with my uncle and joined a club with the help of some relatives. I developed my game at a number of academies. We've got a fantastic women's national football centre in St Polten and that's where raw diamonds are cut," she told UEFA.com.

Teresa Knauseder after her interview
Teresa Knauseder after her interview©Sportsfile

As well as being very much her own person, Knauseder is impressively self-motivated and fiercely ambitious. "I don't really focus on any particular player, I just concentrate on doing my own thing," she said. "I'm trying to go as far as possible, break into the Austria national team. I hope to earn a living playing football, which is difficult in Austria. Playing abroad, perhaps in Germany or America, where they have football colleges, would be great."

Having taken significant strides in recent years, Knauseder believes the conditions are in place for women's football to flourish in Austria. "Football in Austria is getting bigger. We're the first team to qualify for a European championship and we're doing well. With our national centre, players are being pushed and encouraged more and more. There are more girls playing football and things are moving on," she said.

Two points shy of second-placed England with one to play, Dominik Thalhammer's side must overcome leaders Italy on Monday to stand any chance of advancing. The thrill of competing on this stage for the first time ensures that their petrol tank is never likely to run dry, meanwhile.

"We were happy with our performance [versus England]. We fought right to the 80th minute and dominated the game at times. We just lacked the finishing touch," Knauseder explained. "We've done well considering we're one of the underdogs. We still have a small chance and we're going to give it everything against Italy. Everyone is highly motivated and will be well prepared going into the game. The medical staff will make sure we're ready."