Alexandra Popp appear destined by no means to play at a European Championship as a consequence of harm, however the veteran striker is now main Germany’s cost again to the highest of the ladies’s sport at Euro 2022.
An Olympic gold medallist and Champions League winner at membership stage with Wolfsburg, the Euro had been the bete noire of the 31-year-old’s glittering profession till touching down in England a number of weeks in the past.
Her willpower to play in Wolfsburg’s Champions League last win over Lyon regardless of ankle ligament harm ruined her possibilities of taking part in at Euro 2013.
4 years later it was a knee challenge that value Popp a spot within the squad for Euro 2017.
Additional harm woe appeared set to derail what’s going to realistically be her final probability to be topped a European champion at worldwide stage.
Popp has had two extra knee operations on her meniscus over the previous 15 months, solely making a comeback in March.
And even when she proved her health in time to be chosen by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, Popp’s pre-tournament preparations have been disrupted by a optimistic take a look at for coronavirus.
A educated zookeeper, Popp has reacted like a caged animal since being launched upon the match instead in Germany’s opening sport in opposition to Denmark.
In her 115th look for Germany, she took simply 25 minutes to attain on her first match on the Euro with a diving header to cap a Four-Zero win over the Danes.
In an emotional celebration the striker sank to her knees and appeared on the verge of tears in what she later described as probably the most emotional second of her profession.
One other Covid-19 case within the German camp to Lea Schueller then opened the door for Popp to start out in opposition to Spain, which she marked with one other headed end.
Additional objectives in opposition to Finland and Austria within the quarter-finals have made Popp the primary participant to attain in 4 consecutive video games on the identical girls’s Euro.
Her want to make a mark was made clear by the dash to cost down a clearance by Austrian goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger within the last minute of the 90 that rebounded into the web.
“There are few gamers on the earth who’ve comparable qualities,” mentioned former Germany girls’s coach Horst Hrubesch this week.
Popp’s presence has been very important not simply on the sector for a fresh-faced German crew making an attempt to revive their grip on the European sport.
Die Nationalelf have dominated the Euro over time, successful the title eight occasions.
Nevertheless, progress to the final 4 in England is their first semi-final at a significant match for the reason that 2015 World Cup.
As one of many older stateswomen within the squad, Popp was a part of a delegation to barter bonuses from the German soccer affiliation that would rise to 60,000 euros ($61,000) per participant for successful Euro 2022.
That payout is simply two video games away as Germany have swept all earlier than them thus far in successful all 4 video games with out even conceding a aim.
Germany’s hardest take a look at but awaits in opposition to France in Wednesday’ semi-final, however Popp has plans in thoughts for the ultimate in entrance of a sold-out Wembley on Sunday.
“How about elevating the trophy within the air?” Popp mentioned. “That feels like a superb plan.”