Life occasionally produces moments where time seems to stand still; those moments when an entire football stadium holds its breath and stares spellbound at the pitch to avoid missing anything. Shanghai played host to one such moment during the Final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™ between Germany and Brazil on 30 September 2007.
Having been fouled in the penalty area, Marta insisted on taking the resulting penalty herself. It seemed an age before the Brazilian superstar finally took the spot-kick, her face a picture of tension and uncertainty the like of which had not been seen from this instinctive player throughout the tournament.
Standing before her in this moment of truth was a goalkeeper who had all but forgotten what it felt like to pick a ball out of the back of the net. Marta stepped up – and was beaten by Nadine Angerer, whose diving save prevented Brazil from drawing level at 1-1 and kept her team on course for the title.
Germany’s path to victory that year was defined by a string of remarkable performances from the now 37-year-old. The two-time world champion, who called time on her international career after the Women’s World Cup 2015 in Canada, wrote her name in football’s history books in 2007 by remaining unbeaten in goal for her team’s entire campaign – an astounding 540 minutes in total. Unsurprisingly Natze, as she is known, was named goalkeeper of the tournament, one of many highlights in a career that many other great custodians could only dream of.
A sensational and awesome team
When asked to name her greatest success in an interview with FIFA.com, the former FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year replied: “There are so many! I can’t name just one, but there’s no doubt that our Women’s World Cup wins in 2003 and 2007 as well as our European triumph in 2013 are right up there. Having said that, there were also smaller successes like the first German championship with Turbine Potsdam,” she said.
“Obviously I’m particularly proud that I didn’t concede a single goal during the 2007 Women’s World Cup in China and was able to save that penalty from Marta during the Final against Brazil,” continued the shot-stopper, renowned for her fondness for hats. “That was important for me because it was my first major tournament as [Germany’s] first-choice goalkeeper, but let’s not forget that football is a team sport and I also know that the awesome team we had back then were sensational.”
Angerer replaced Silke Rottenberg as Germany’s No1 shortly before the start of the tournament in China PR. Despite making her way back from a cruciate ligament injury sustained at the Four Nations Tournament in Guangzhou in January 2007 in time for Women’s World Cup preparations, Rottenberg’s hopes of reclaiming her place between the posts were then dashed by a torn calf muscle.
“I was top dog before but now it’s Nadine’s turn,” said Rottenberg, who led her country to Women’s World Cup glory in 2003 and was at that time widely regarded as the best goalkeeper on the planet. “Germany definitely has two world-class goalkeepers and every other nation envies us for that. She totally deserves to be first choice.”
Angerer’s goal-line domain
As the 2007 Women’s World Cup gathered pace, it quickly became clear that Angerer was well on her way to becoming the best shot-stopper around. Despite barely being tested in the first few matches, she was on hand whenever needed in Germany’s knockout games against Korea DPR and Norway, usually pulling off an impressive save in the process.
The woman from Lower Franconia crowned this remarkable run with her performance in the 64th to 67th minutes of the Final, first mopping up Marta’s penalty before clawing Daniela’s free-kick clear of goal in even more sensational style just moments later.
After the final whistle sounded at Shanghai’s Hongkou Stadium, the heroine of the hour scarcely seemed able to comprehend what had just happened out on the pitch. “I’d put it like this: what I was lucky enough to experience today was the sporting highlight of my life so far,” she said in the wake of her team’s triumph over Brazil.
More highlights followed, with Angerer once again demonstrating her world-class skills to claim the UEFA Women’s EURO title with Germany in 2009 and 2013. She conceded just one goal in the entire 2013 tournament before saving two penalties in the final against Norway to secure a close-fought 1-0 win and enable her team to successfully defend their crown. Later that same year, this remarkable solo performance earned Natze the UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe and FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year awards.