Lena Oberdorf is one of the revelations of this Euro 2022 and has established herself as the boss of the German midfielder. All this at only 20 years old. But we do not speak of age to this daughter of a former high-level heptathlete. Whatever, despite her performance as a machine, the interested party does not forget that she is barely out of adolescence and that she still has a lot to live for. Starting with a dream final against England at Wembley.
Her nickname, Obi, is reminiscent of a famous hardware store chain, but Lena Oberdorf isn’t one to flinch when it comes to hammering in a nail or putting up a shelf, metaphorically speaking. On the ground, the number 6 of the Frauen-Nationalmannschaft shines since the beginning of the tournament by its interventions as rough as effective. All of Germany’s opponents can attest to this (except Finland, against which they were suspended for two consecutive yellow cards), with France at the top of the list. Facing Les Bleues, the native of Gevelsberg, a small town in the south of the Ruhr, was sickeningly consistent even if, paradoxically, it was her late return to Kadidiatou Diani which led the French striker to score the only goal conceded by Germany before challenging England in the final. Not enough to ring the alarm bells though: “To string together such performances at just 20 years old is indicative of the future that awaits him. I’m really happy that she’s playing for Germany and not for another team.” summarized the coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg after the quarter-final won against Austria and during which Oberdorf had shone by its solidity, both in terms of duels won (15/19) as well as interceptions (six) and successful tackles (“I need to make three or four good ones to get into my game” she then confided to Deutsche Welle).
What to ensure the attackers to be launched in the best conditions and to remove a weight from the shoulders of the defenders who know that their midfield is well guarded, despite the absence of the usual guards that are Dzsenifer Marozsán (injured to the cruciate ligaments ) and Melanie Leupolz (pregnant). In the company of the neo-Lyonnaise Sara Däbritz and Lina Magull, Lena Oberdorf, who is playing her first major tournament in the shoes of an indisputable holder, has simply established herself as THE revelation of this Euro. “Obi is a phenomenonenthuses Svenja Huth, her teammate in selection and in Wolfsburg. On the pitch, she has a maturity and consistency in her performance that would do any team good.”
The person concerned, she still has trouble believing it. Illustration after his first match against Denmark, already under the sign of the XXL performance: “I don’t notice that I’m only 20 years old. When I’m on the pitch, I feel like I’m 28. My teammates always tell me: “Off the field, we can see that you are 20 years old, however!” and I answer them: “Yes! That’s my age! Let me be 20!” joked the second youngest player in the squad, behind striker Jule Brand (19). Three years earlier, in Rennes, Lena Oberdorf came on in the second half against China and unblocked a too fearful Germany who would finally win 1-0. Then aged seventeen, five months and twenty days, she took the opportunity to break the record of the legendary Birgit Prinz by becoming the youngest German player to compete in a World Cup. She, who had been called up as a central defender, has since found her favorite position a notch higher: that of sentry. And although Oberdorf declares itself always ready to step back if necessary, the return of Marina Hegering to the hinge after a thigh injury guarantees her place in the heart of the game, for the happiness of her partners therefore, and the misfortune of his opponents.
True to the adage that the clothes do not make the monk, behind the adolescent face still riddled with acne pimples hides a ” machine ” , to use Lina Magull’s expression. In three years, Lena Oberdorf believes she has become “smarter” especially since she works with an individual trainer: “positioning on the ground and how to recognize given situations more quickly in order to resolve them without too much effort” . As a way of using her body in the most efficient way possible, this body she calls “my best weapon” and for which she could “thank every day” his mother, a former high-level heptathlete for giving it to him, but without following in his footsteps. “Athletics was not diverse enough for me. I didn’t always like running in a straight line. Anyway, I knew I wasn’t the fastest, so why start running?she replayed in the columns of Sports Picture. In football, you can compensate for the lack of speed with other skills. For example, putting real physical contact in duels.
A passion for Ramos and Kimmich
In 2019, the technical director of Wolfsburg saw in Lena Oberdorf “one of the greatest talents in women’s football in the world” . Since then, the one who has just extended her contract with the Louves until 2025 and is approached by her agent to become the first player to exceed the bar of a transfer to one million euros (her market value currently caps at 225,000 euros), seems well on its way to establishing itself as the future boss, not of the midfield, but of the entire German team. As a child, she watched videos of Sergio Ramos on YouTube and marveled at him celebrating his butcher tackles. Now she understands why, now that she is in the same situation, even if the player with whom she compares herself more willingly remains Joshua Kimmich, with whom she would like to discuss in the future: “He embodies the same thing as me: playing with a lot of passion, emotions and the desire to win. »
Exactly what you will have to show against England this Sunday in a match that is already shaping up to be a dream final: “I don’t think we could have hoped for better. Before the tournament, we all hoped to get there and now here we are against England! » marveled at a press conference, the one whose duel in the middle against Keira Walsh will be closely scrutinized. “The whole stadium will be against us, so we will have to soak up the atmosphere to convert it into energy, then try to put as much intensity as we have in previous games and give it our all again. » Will her big brother Tim be there to see her try to win her first Euro with the A’s, five years after dominating Europe with the German U17s? Not sure, the interested party being currently occupied with Fortuna Düsseldorf, where he plays as a central defender. One thing is certain: when watching his sister on TV, he will surely remember the time when he took her to the field “probably because he needed a sitter. » And to see that the wick he lit burns as cleanly as the reminders his sister has shown to the eyes of all of Europe for three weeks.
By Julien Duez, in London