Euro 2022: 'Lifting the trophy sounds like a good plan'
DW: Three games, three goals, you can't do much better than that. How are you feeling?
Alexandra Popp: I'm very happy, regardless of my personal start, but above all about our start as a team, which we achieved with a lot of conviction, with a lot of self-confidence, which I don't think many people expected. That we were able to do so well makes me very happy and proud.
Ahead of the tournament, when you thought about the preliminary round matches, did you ever think that you would score three goals in your first three games?
That's what I was hoping for, let's put it that way. Of course, you can't predict that it will work out. It depends on what happens in the games. I didn't know whether I would be a starter. Sadly, I also benefited from Lea's [Lea Schüller] COVID-19 infection. This was kind of nice for me on the one hand, but it's not nice when it happens under such circumstances. In the end, it's what's suddenly in the net that counts: That was the ball. So of course, I'm glad that it worked out the way I'd hoped, and I showed myself that I can still get it done.
The Euros obviously suit you. Has your strong start made you wonder what might have been in 2013 or 2017, when you missed both tournaments due to injury?
Not now, to be honest. At the time, I did of course. In 2013 we became European champions, so maybe I would have had that on my CV already. That would have been nice. It's no use thinking about it for years, dwelling on it, so to speak. I have to accept things as they are. I have also met it head on with a fighting spirit by standing right here and being able to play in this European Championship. I'm very proud of this at the moment.
A lot of things are going right for you at this tournament. You're now 31 and the next European Championship is still some way off. Does this mean that it's now or never for you in terms of winning the European title?
The fact is, of course, that I'm no longer the youngest. I can't say now whether this will be the end or whether I'll carry on. This would also be the wrong time to think about it and make a decision. What counts for me is the here and now. This is my first European Championship, which I also fought for. Now I'm here and it's going extremely well for me personally, but also for the team. I just want to help the team, whether it's with goals or by creating space or providing assists. In the end, I don't give a damn how I do it. As long as we get our hands on the trophy as European champions, anything is fine with me.
You scored all three of your goals with your head: If that were to happen again against Austria, would it be their own fault? Shouldn't they be forewarned that you can't leave Popp alone with high balls in the penalty area.
I don't think that's anything new. I've always been strong in that area, but I also went quite a while without scoring a goal. Maybe that's why I wasn't really on the radar anymore. That's good for me of course, it's my specialty. The nice thing is, if everyone focuses on my head, maybe they won't focus on my feet.
So far, seven different players have scored for Germany at these Euros. How many do you think there will there be in the end?
I don't care, the main thing is that we win.
There are also some youngsters on this team. How do you see your role as captain regarding these players. How can they benefit from your experience?
Of course, we have to support them in certain situations. Yesterday, for example [at Milton Keynes], there were a few more spectators than there were in Brentford. You could tell that the players were very nervous. We are there to give them a certain amount of security. But when you see how the younger players like Jule Brand or Nicole Anyomij have been playing in their first tournament, you wouldn't think they were nervous at all. That makes you want to do more.
What are your plans for July 31?
How about raising the trophy in the air? That sounds like a good plan.
Alexandra Popp, 31, is playing in her first European Championship after missing the 2013 and 2017 editions of the tournament due to injury. The striker, who plays her club football at VfL Wolfsburg, has won numerous titles including the Champions League and the Bundesliga. She was also a member of the German team that won gold at the Rio Olympics in 2016. Including the group stage of Euro 2022, she has 56 goals in 117 appearances for Germany.
This interview was translated from German.