German footballers have a fine tradition in England. In the Premier League, the cream of German talent has graced our shores; Michael Ballack, Jurgen Klinsmann, Karl Heinz-Riedle, Christian Ziege and many more besides.
German football has been held in high esteem in this country since the heart-warming story of Bert Trautmann, who played in the 1956 FA Cup final with a broken neck. The ‘nationalmannschaft’ rightly commands just as much respect here, with four World Cup and three European Nations titles to their name. Gary Lineker famously said that “football is a simple game; twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end the Germans always win.”
Many Brits enjoy ‘football tourism’ on the terraces of iconic venues such as Borussia Dortmund [check – TC] in one of the strongest leagues in the world, the Bundesliga, with its good-value ticket pricing and fan-friendly ethic. German soccer is something that is greatly admired on this side of the Channel.
Maidenhead United Women have their very own midfield maestro who herself does little to dispel the cliché of German efficiency! Annika Striepecke has been a revelation for her team, displaying wonderful skill and quick feet in the middle of the park, making the play and weighing in with quality goals in matches against the likes of Cheltenham and Newbury.
And luckily for Maidenhead, the 19 year old has instantly become settled in the area: “I work as an au pair. That means I take care of three boys (3, 8, 11 years old) and live with them in their house. I have a great time with the family and love my work. I finished school in June 2019 and didn’t want to start studying. I wanted to improve my English skills and take a job as an au pair”. And Annika has been charmed by the Berkshire way of life: “I love it. I love the landscapes and the architecture of the old houses. Everyone is so kind, patient and open-minded”.
Annika has been playing football for many years in and around her home town: “I’m from Marburg. Marburg is located a one hour drive north of Frankfurt and is a lovely little town of 80.000 souls. We have a beautiful castle and it is a typical German historic city. Marburg is also known for its university and a modern student life.
In Germany, I played for SFBG Marburg in my town. Before it I played in Wetzlar (FSV Hessen Wetzlar) and when I started playing football I played in several Boys teams!” Quite the find for Maidenhead Women – or, more accurately, rather Annika found them: “I found the team via Instagram” she explains, having settled into working locally. Thank goodness for the power of social media!
For such a young player, Annika has enjoyed plenty of high points in her fledgling career: “I played in the highest league in Germany for girls (Juniorinnen Bundesliga U17 / Youth Premier League). This was a great season and experience for me. My first goal in England (at Cheltenham in September) was also a highlight because my family from Germany was visiting me and saw my first goal.”
Just recently Annika had a helping hand in Maidenhead reaching the Berks & Bucks Women’s Senior Cup final, providing a vital assist for Kate La Cumbre in a tight contest with Wycombe Wanderers. The team now have a cup final to look forward to but will also be focussing on maintaining their sought-after status in the FA Women’s National League Division 1 South West, the fourth tier of Women’s soccer in England.
Annika is as intelligent and carefully considered off the pitch as she is on it. When asked to describe her playing style she thoughtfully explains: “ I can give good passes, have a good overview of the game and I’m a quiet footballer – I just get on with playing football. I love it to play in the centre.
In Germany I played as the ‘6’. In England I play as the ‘8’. Both positions are good.” In terms of her strengths and weaknesses, Annika summarised succinctly: “My strengths I feel are my technique and my overview on the pitch. My weaknesses perhaps are tackling and rapidity.” In terms of idols for this level-headed youngster: “I support the 1.FC Köln (Cologne) in Germany. I like the player Mario Gomez (VfB Stuttgart) but I think English maybe don’t know him so I also like the style of play of Toni Kroos (Real Madrid).”
Already popular with her team-mates and the management team alike, dependable Annika gives this Maidenhead side a touch of class and composure in the engine room of midfield amongst the flying boots and the physicality and blood-and-thunder excitement of Women’s football. With youth on her side, you can expect a lot more to follow from this particular ‘Instagram Story’!
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