Women's Euro 2022

Women's Euro 2022: Ann-Katrin Berger on first major tournament in her second home

Ali Rampling
Ann-Katrin Berger is preparing for her first ever major tournament
Ann-Katrin Berger is preparing for her first ever major tournament / Handout/GettyImages

How far do Germany want to go at Euro 2022?

"That shouldn’t be a question," replies a deadpan Ann-Katrin Berger. "The question should be, does Germany win the Euros?" 

The 30-year-old has played in a Champions League final, lifted league titles in England and Germany and been nominated for the Best FIFA Women's Goalkeeper award, but remarkably is preparing for her maiden major tournament with her national side this summer.

Fittingly for Berger, the tournament takes place in England, where she has played her football for the past six years.

"Sometimes when I talk to friends and say: ‘oh I’m going home now’ and then they’re like: ‘what, to Germany?’ And I’m like: ‘no, to England.’ I have to actually start saying ‘Germany home’ or ‘England home’," Berger told 90min. "I feel like England is my second home."

The Chelsea goalkeeper is talking to 90min a stone's throw from Carnaby Street, which has been spectacularly decked out like a foosball table to celebrate the 100-day countdown until the Euro 2022 festivities kickoff.

"I’m really looking forward to showing the girls how big the football is here in England," she added. "English people are just crazy about football and I like the fact it’s not just men’s football anymore."

Representing her country is a lifelong dream for Berger. Growing up, she stuck a picture of herself over the top of the goalkeeper on a poster of the German national side. It acted as a source of motivation whenever she trained or played.

"My mum was actually talking about it a couple of weeks ago. She was like: ‘I just can’t believe that picture’. She wished that she kept that picture. She can’t believe that I put my picture there and now I don’t actually have to stick myself on top of someone else; I’m actually in the picture, so it is crazy.

"I don’t know why I did it; I put my picture on the goalkeeper because at that point I was far away from the goal - I was the striker - but apparently it helped."

Millie Bright, Ann-Katrin Berger, Jess Carter, Kenza Dali
Millie Bright, Ann-Katrin Berger, Jess Carter and Kenza Dali at the UEFA Womens EURO England 2022 general sale launch / Handout/GettyImages

How did her transition from a striker into a goalkeeper come about?

"Simple answer: I was just getting lazy with running."

Euro 2022 represents unfamiliar territory for Germany: it is the first time since 1995 that they will not go into the competition as defending champions.

Die Nationalelf
have a proud history in the Euros, winning six successive tournaments between 1995 and 2013. They boasted squads overflowing with legends of the game - from iconic goalkeeper Nadine Angerer to the formidable strike force of Inka Grings and Birgit Prinz.

"That’s why I think I always wanted to play for Germany because they just had a different mentality and I quite liked it," said Berger. "You just saw that every single player who played for Germany at that time was really, really professional. And it was even harder because obviously it was not even a full-time job back then.

"But that’s what’s inspired me the most; because they played top level for years and years and they won all the trophies but also had other work to do or studying. I think that’s what I like the most; almost like the background behind it, how good you can be even if you’re doing it part time."

Germany find themselves in daunting Euro 2022 group alongside Iceland, pre-tournament favourites Spain and beaten 2017 finalists Denmark, but Berger believes negotiating such a challenge will stand them in good stead for the rest of the tournament.

A potential meeting with hosts England could await in the knockout stages - and Berger is relishing playing in front of a partisan crowd.

"I can’t wait for it! It would be really nice, For me as a player, I get more motivation playing against a team who has the twelfth man in the fans but it’s even more exciting to win against them in their home territory." 

Tickets for UEFA Women's EURO England 2022 are on sale now. Visit:www.uefa.com/womenseuro/ticketing. The tournament takes place across nine cities in England from 6-31st July 2022.