• Frauen | 26/05/2019

    European Champion, Pauline Nelles

    “The biggest game of my life”

  • Frauen | 26/05/2019

    European Champion, Pauline Nelles

    “The biggest game of my life”

1. FC Köln have a European Champion. FC goalkeeper, Pauline Nelles saved four penalties in a row against the Netherlands to secure glory in the under-17 final.

It was a meaningful moment in her young career. FC shot-stopper, Pauline Nelles managed to save four penalties in a row during the under-17 European Championship final against the Netherlands to bring yet another title to Germany. The first and last were of a good height, but any senior goalkeeper would be happy to have the second and third in their highlight reel.

As Turbine Potsdam’s Mieke Schiemann hammered home the final German penalty, it was finally time to celebrate. Pauline Nelles, not only with her saves from 12 yards, but a world-class reaction stop as the game headed towards penalties, had more than her share in the win. After the game, Nelles couldn’t hold back the happiness. “On a scale from 0 to 10, that was a solid 11,” she laughed.

No stress

From the 5th to 17th of May, the under-17 championship ran in Bulgaria. The group stage saw a 4:0 win over England and 3:1 triumph against Austria sandwich a close 2:3 defeat to the Dutch. Despite that, Germany still went on to top the group. In the semi-final, a comfortable 2:0 win over Portugal was secured as Nelles continued her good form throughout. Then, it was a trip to Albena for the final.

After normal time, the game ended 1:1 and Germany and the Netherlands were headed for spot-kicks. In the under-17 championship, there is no extra-time. Despite going straight into the pressure situation, the 17-year-old was calm throughout. “I knew that I had nothing to lose in the moment,” she commented. “I wanted to save the penalties to win the trophy, of course. But also for my team-mates. I didn’t want them to feel bad because they’d missed a penalty,” Nelles explained.

That was just how it went. The FC goalkeeper calmly went about her business and saved four penalties in a row. Afterwards, the team celebrated through the night and into the early hours of the morning before heading to the airport. “We danced, we celebrated and we shouted. We almost had no voice left the next day,” Nelles beamed. “The final was the biggest and best game of my life – I will never forget it.”

Back in Germany, the team were welcomed at the Football Museum in Dortmund. The families of the players had made their way to Dortmund, too. “It is unbelievable, that we’re actually European Champions. We had such an incredible team spirit and the defeat in the group stage only brought us more together. We didn’t want to lose, again, against the Dutch in the final at all costs,” she commented. “We played the tournament with a lot of courage and passion, we deserved the title.”

Future at FC

For the goalkeeper, it was a year with lots of highlights. With FC, she was a part of the team that secured an immediate return to the Bundesliga. “I’m looking forward to my future with FC,” said Nelles. “I want to keep developing here, show good performances in training and put myself in a position to play in the Bundesliga.” First of all, the 17-year-old must concentrate on school once more. She’s currently heading into a phase of exams, of which FC wish her all the best. 

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