After a few years in the job, experience tells you what the right course of action is, but it takes time to get to the point where you can trust your instincts to say the right things. After a while, I felt as if I had experienced every situation before and was always ready to react.
Still, every tournament was a new challenge. You can’t make any generalisations. All you can do is prepare your side as best you can for all the different things that might happen.
In the 2007 World Cup final, we were up against Brazil. It was my first tournament as national manager, after being promoted in 2005.
At 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go, Simone Laudehr, one of our best players, told me she couldn’t go on. She had to come off. I said: “Simone, you can’t come off. We still need one goal.”
Sixteen minutes later, she scored with a header.
We won the World Cup for the second time in a row.
“Nothing has really changed. I don’t think a woman would be accepted in the Bundesliga”
It was even more of a wild ride at the 2013 Euros. Two years earlier, we had been knocked out in the quarter finals of the World Cup, so the pressure was on. Six regulars were injured and we had to plug the gaps with young players, but the public didn’t really care about that.
We started quite poorly. Something had to change ahead of the quarter final against Italy.
We had this ritual in training: young against old in a shoot-out. I told the losing side they would have to give a series of talks on topics such as courage, passion, togetherness and honour. Young lost, but they really embraced the task.
“It’s an honour to play with you,” they said to one of our experienced players, Nadine Angerer. Others took apart a ballpoint pen and explained how the different parts worked together. I was totally taken aback.
We won against Italy, and that was the turnaround we needed to go on and win the tournament.
After winning the 2016 Olympics, I stepped down to work as director of scouting and the junior teams for the German FA. Do I want to go back to coaching? Right now, I’m not really sure.
If I did, coaching a women’s team or a men’s team would be of equal interest. But I don’t think a woman would be accepted in the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2. When I was asked about the chances of that happening 10 years ago, I thought the time might be ripe in 10 years’ time. But nothing has really changed.
We need someone to break the mould and trust a woman in such a position. We’re still playing catch-up when it comes to positions of power. Not just in football. We earn less, too.
As I said before: the battle continues.