She is young, she is cheeky and she is blonde… And she is a talented footballer! Alexandra Popp has made it to the headlines in the recent weeks during Germany’s preparations for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011. The 20-year old girl is one of the most promising female footballers Germany has ever seen and she could replace countrywoman Birgit Prinz as the flag bearer of women’s football.
The FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup last year opened the door to the big football world for the young girl. Popp impressed the experts with her bracing style of football and goals, which helped her team to win the World Cup. The young German was also named “Player of the Tournament” and she won the “Golden Boot Award”. And it seems like this girl is having big plans for this year’s senior World Cup…!
Popp was nominated to the final senior squad by German coach Silvia Neid and the young striker left a mark on and off the field during the preparations for the finals! Popp scored five goals in three international friendlies and increased her impressive record to nine goals in twelve senior international caps!
Popp, nicknamed “Alex” or “Poppi” by the coaches and teammates, was born in the city of Witten and learned her football basics at a small club called FC Schwarz-Weiß Silschede. She grew-up in a football-crazy family with her father and brother being active footballers. Her father is also a die-hard FC Schalke 04 fan, while her brother supports arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund. Alex shared the passion of her brother and pledged alliance to Borussia Dortmund.
Alex grew up playing football with boys and almost quit football at the age of 14, when she had to join a girl’s team. She felt that the girl’s team of her club couldn’t play football properly as she was used to play with boys throughout her childhood. But Alex got used to it and she finally found out that the girls played decent football.
It seems like a strange twist of fate that Alex joined the comprehensive school (Gesamtschule) Berger Feld at the age of 17. The school is located next to the grounds of FC Schalke 04, with whom it co-operates to groom and nurture football talents. The list of prominent alumni includes the likes of Mesut Özil, Manuel Neuer, Julian Draxler and many more. Alex was the only girl in the school and it took her some time to adjust to the conditions. Life was not too easy for her as a Borussia Dortmund fan along with the youth players of FC Schalke 04.
Popp signed a contract with Bundesliga outfit FCR 2001 Duisburg a few weeks before joining the Gesamtschule Berger Feld. The talented youngster rejected an offer from French giants Olympique Lyonnais in favour of the Germans. It was the start to a quite promising career for the young Alexandra Popp, who names former Czech international Pavel Nedved as her idol.
Alex made her debut in the German Bundesliga in a match against Herforder SV on September 7, 2008 and scored her first goal at senior level a few weeks later against TSV Crailsheim. Decent performances in the league and the junior national teams earned her a call-up to the German senior national squad in February 2010. Popp earned her debut senior international cap on February 17, 2010 against North Korea.
German football fans and coach Silvia Neid feels that Alexandra Popp has the potential to fill the gap, which will be left by star skipper Birgit Prinz. Prinz is set to retire from international football very soon and the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 will be her last international tournament.
Popp is still very young and it would be too early to crown her the new virtual superstar of German women’s football. One has to wait, if the young girl from Witten can continue to deliver at national and international level.
Alex herself is a down to earth girl and she recently stated in an interview that she felt “honoured and delighted” to be part of the World Cup squad. She looks at the World Cup as “a learning experience and has no demands” to get a place in the starting eleven.
Alexandra Popp could turn into the surprise package of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2011 and I have a feeling that the upcoming finals will end in a fairytale story for her. Just remember the men’s World Cup last year and a certain Thomas Mueller…!
So let’s wait and see, how the career of the new princess of German football continues…
Official Website of Alexandra Popp: