One of Germany’s most recognizable faces at the Women’s World Cup will be Dzsenifer Marozsan. The forward spoke to DW about overcoming a health scare that threatened her career, and shouldering more responsibility.
If 18-year-old World Cup debutant Klara Bühl is the "chick," as she describes herself, then Dzsenifer Marozsan is the mother hen. After the pair appeared together at a pre-tournament press conference, Bühl got a reassuring pat on the back from Marozsan. Sometimes the media can feel more scary than the match itself.
As Germany's Women's World Cup opener against China draws closer, Marozsan, despite still just being 27 years of age, has assumed the role of elder stateswoman, exuding an air of quiet calm and authority in a team that is blooding several new faces at this tournament. She has clearly embraced the responsibility.
"I just help to show them [their way] on the pitch and give my maximum, to really create and win for the team," Marozsan told DW at Germany's training camp near Rennes. "I want to go forward. I hope the young players look at me and follow me."
Germany's number 10 may no longer serve as captain, a position she held under former coach Steffi Jones, but she commands plenty of respect. As Bühl explained to DW after the press conference, "You can take a leaf out of how she handles herself and how calm she is." For the teenager, it's a lot to take in.
Although Marozsan has been there and done all that, she can still appreciate what the younger players are going through. She remembers how she felt when she made her international debut in 2010, also aged 18, taking to the pitch against Australia alongside two legends of the German game in the shape of Birgit Prinz and Inka Grings.
"It was hard because a lot of great players were in the team, so I was really shy," Marozsan said. "I looked up to them, I wanted to be just like them. But it was also amazing because like this you can improve your game. It helps a lot for the young players."
Born in Hungary but naturalized as German, Marozsan has experienced quite the journey since she pulled on the storied Germany jersey for the first time. Three years before helping her country to Olympic gold in Rio, she was part of the team that won the 2013 Women's Euros in Sweden.
The forward's achievements on the domestic front aren't to be sniffed at, either. She has lifted the Champions League trophy four times, first with FFC Frankfurt and then the next three with Lyon. Her success in France is such that she is more widely recognized here than she is in Germany.
"It's cool because I've been here for just three years," Marozsan said. "I'm in another country and I meet a lot of new people, so that improves you as a person. I'm really proud of myself, now I speak a little bit of French as well."
However, the career of arguably the best playmaker in the women's game came to a shuddering halt in 2018. Marozsan suffered a pulmonary embolism, which is caused by a blocked blood vessel in the lungs. She missed three months of the season, and at one stage it wasn't clear if she would ever be able to play football again.
"The whole family was shocked," Marozsan reflected. "It really was not a nice situation. I'm happy that I got a lot of support from my club and country, my family and my teammates. That was really important. Now I'm just happy to be back on the pitch."
For a while, Marozsan was reticent to open up about her health scare. She now needs to be a lot more careful about what she eats and drinks, and must wear compression tights on long journeys. The entire experience has changed her perspective on life.
"When you are in this situation you just realize how important it is to enjoy every day, because it can happen every day," Marozsan said. "So I'm really calm now. If I get a little injury, I say to myself, 'There are a lot of worse things. Be calm and you will be fine soon.' Now I just enjoy every moment."
And enjoy every moment she has. Marozsan's season culminated in a fourth Champions League title, and her summer isn't over yet. This Women's World Cup is set to be the most eagerly watched in the tournament's history.
At the end of it, maybe Marozsan will get her hands on the one major trophy her collection is lacking, in front of nearly 60,000 fans in a place she now calls home. "Hopefully we will play in Lyon," she said. "That's my dream, so I will work hard for it. I'm missing the World Cup title. To win it would be amazing."