1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

How tragedy drove a US defender to the Bundesliga

October 31, 2022

Following the death of her younger brother, Turbine Potsdam defender Adrienne Jordan was determined to reach the Bundesliga no matter what.

Adrienne Jordan winning the ball off a Werder Bremen player
For Adrienne Jordan (centre, red) playing in the Bundesliga is the realization of a special dreamImage: Oliver Baumgart/foto2press/picture alliance

"I look at the sky, take a deep breath, and just think about Gian-Luc for a little second before the whistle blows, just reminding myself that I'm playing for more than just myself and just to enjoy it."

Adrienne Jordan does this before every game. The 28-year-old Turbine Potsdam defender takes a moment to remember her brother and that 11 years after his death, she has realized his dream.

A dream is passed on

Jordan had just started her final year of school when her brother Gian-Luc, 12, tragically passed away.

"It was incredibly devastating for myself and my family," Jordan told DW. "We all lost a special person that day and that person meant something different to each of us."

Before he died, Gian-Luc had always dreamt of playing in the Bundesliga. His dream quickly became a driving force for Adrienne, who at the time was only 17 and having to decide which university to attend.

"He always talked about buying my mum a nice house and a fancy car and doing all these nice things," Jordan explained. "When he passed, I made a silent promise to him that I was going to do my absolute best to fulfil his dream to the best of my abilities. At that point I didn't know how it was going to happen, I didn't know if it was going to happen, but I knew it was something that I wanted to try to make happen."

A long journey

A talented multi-disciplined athlete, Jordan's childhood in the US state of Colorado was littered with success, but the Bundesliga was a long way away.

After a scout told her she wasn't good enough to play for a top-tier university, Jordan was undeterred. She joined the University of Northern Colorado and twice won defensive MVP (most valuable player). It was here things clicked.

"Before I was a good player, and after I was a great player," Jordan said. "That's when I started taking serious steps towards furthering my career after college and becoming professional."

After emails to Bundesliga clubs went unanswered, Jordan entered the 2016 National Women's Soccer League (NWSL) draft, the primary route to being selected to one of the US professional football teams, and was selected by the Chicago Red Stars. Jordan never played for the club, but ended up signing for Swedish side Ostersunds DFF, and so began a journey to Germany via six different clubs in four-and-a-half years.

Adrienne Jordan smiles to the camera
Adrienne Jordan realized her brother's dream when signing for Sand in 2021Image: Eibner/IMAGO

After a move to IB Vestmannaeyja in Iceland, Jordan signed with her roommate's agent with the understanding that playing in the Bundesliga was the aim.

"Even though it involved going from Iceland, to Italy, to England, each one of those was a steppingstone to getting to Germany, which ultimately was my number one goal."

In 2021, Jordan finally realized her brother's dream when she signed for SC Sand during the winter transfer window. The enormity of the moment when she finally stepped onto the field wasn't lost on her.

"I'm stronger and better for it and see life differently now. It took a lot of years to look back and sort through everything," Jordan admitted. "I'm still working on it."

Different year, new club

This summer, Jordan was one of 12 new players to join Turbine Potsdam.

Turbine have had a challenging start to the season, losing five of their first six games and parting company with their head coach this week. Concerns linger about a club that had established itself as a top-four regular in recent seasons, but Jordan believes better days lie ahead.

"It is always on the players," Jordan admitted. "We're the ones on the field and we have to perform as best we can but at the end of the day that's what we're trying to do and there is always more going on in the background."

"We're trying to do our best and stay positive and enjoy the game because it's so easy to get down and negative and too frustrated. Then we miss out on actually being able to enjoy the game that we love to play."

While clearly frustrated at her team's poor form, Jordan is not missing out on the enjoyment of playing the game she loves. After all, every time she steps out onto the field she knows she's playing for much more than just herself.

Edited by Jonathan Harding

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

A bombed out building in Mariupol
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage