Lea Schüller: The goals to lead Germany to glory | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 07.06.2019
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Lea Schüller: The goals to lead Germany to glory

Easygoing and dangerous in front of goal: the young striker is the new hope for Germany ahead of the Women's World Cup in France. Can her goals lead Germany to the title in France this summer?

Lea Schüller always steps onto the pitch with her left foot first. It's a ritual, not uncommon in football. Schüller's shin guards, a present last Christmas, are a little more memorable, though.

Read more: Exclusive interview with Germany head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg

"On the right there's a lion, symbolising bravery and a willingness to fight. On the left is a picture from a game when we scored the winner in the 90th minute and are celebrating together," Schüller explained at a sponsoring event.

German football fans wouldn't mind seeing a similar scene on July 7th in the World Cup final in Lyon. That this year's tournament will take place in France is a funny coincidence for Lea Schüller. After all, it was in France that Schüller discovered her passion for football.

"I took a holiday in France in 2004 and watched the European Championship. After that, I desperately wanted to play football so I joined a club," the 21-year-old said.

Schüller was seven at the time. Today, 14 years later, Lea Schüller is the new great hope of Germany's team at the Women's World Cup.

"Lea is a striker who doesn't need many chances to score a goal," Germany's head coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told DW. "She's a fox in the box, who has plenty of qualities."

Schüller, who plays for SGS Essen, who finished fourth in the women's Bundesliga this past season, can do it all. Her long-range goal against Austria last year was voted Goal of the Year. Against France, she showed her excellent technique by delivering a fine turn and finish with her left foot. She can also score with her head, as she did against the Czech Republic.

"She can shoot with both her right and left foot. She's good in the air. Her size gives her a physical advantage and she brings with her a certain coolness, even though she's still very young," Voss-Tecklenburg said.

"She's a target woman," praised Horst Hrubesch, who was interim head coach of Germany's women's team last year and secured qualification for the tournament in France.

"Bold as brass on the pitch"

Schüller has 12 Germany caps and has already scored an impressive eight goals.

"She has an enormous potential," said teammate Lena Goessling. Goalkeeper Almuth Schult added: "We're excited about what lies ahead. On the pitch she's as bold as brass."

Watch video 02:32

Can Germany's women win the title?

Off the pitch, the engineering management student is more reserved. But she has made herself a part of the team in more ways than one.

"I don't have a specific role in the team," Schüller said. "I can be funny, but also focused and I always try to support my team."

The way she does that best is through her goals. At the last big tournament though, the European Championships in the Netherlands two years ago, those goals were noticeable by their absence as Germany surprisingly found themselves out of the tournament at the quarterfinal stage. It didn't help that Lea Schüller didn't make the final Germany squad for the tournament.

'Control the load'

Two years on, though, only an injury or illness could stop Lea Schüller from taking part in her first big, international tournament. 

"Lea has to work on her physical strength. She's been injured a lot lately," Voss-Tecklenburg said, with a warning: "If you don't have the physical condition, then it's tough to perform regularly at the top level. We have to make sure that we carefully control the load on such a young player."

Read more: "We don't have balls, but we know how to use them"

Perhaps it's fitting then that Schüller's idol is Borussia Dortmund's captain Marco Reus, a player who famously missed the 2010 and 2014 World Cups as well as the 2016 Euros due to injury.

"I like the way he plays the game. With such pace and drive towards goal, he's my idol," she said.

Schüller wants to deliver exactly those qualities in France, and lead Germany to their third Women's World Cup. Three stars on the shirt and the Germany team with the World Cup trophy in their hands - two perfect pictures for a new pair of shin guards.

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