Tuesday 20 August 2019

Diane's all set to test herself in Bundesliga

Balbriggan's Diane Caldwell has been on cloud nine for a good part of the past fortnight after flying back and forth between Europe and America.

The Republic of Ireland midfielder landed in the United States for last Saturday's friendly international with an extra spring in her step after sorting out her club future by signing a contract with German top-flight side Koln.

Caldwell had parted company with Norwegian side Avaladsnes at the end of last season, but had a medical with Koln last Saturday week, signed afterwards and subsequently played - and scored - in a 4-0 friendly victory over Borussia Monchengladbach.

She then flew to London to link up with the rest of the Ireland squad prior to last Tuesday's flight to Los Angeles and admitted that the last few days have been a bit of a whirlwind.

'I am really excited. It was always one of my ambitions to play in Germany, so I am looking forward to it. It's a big club. Obviously the men's club is massive, while on the women's side they got into the Bundesliga this year. They are currently sitting at the bottom, but it's quite close between themselves and a few other teams.

'They wanted to strengthen their team for the second half of the campaign by bringing in some players, so hopefully I can help them stay in the top division.'

Although only 27, Caldwell has been a bit of a globetrotter, having played in Ireland, the USA, Iceland, Sweden, Norway and now Germany, but she is at pains to point out that she isn't chasing stamps on her passport.

'I have racked up quite a few countries at this stage in my career, but it has always been about playing and bettering myself. If that involves travelling then it involves travelling, but my focus has always been about challenging myself in different leagues and taking steps forward in my career.'

She admits that the prospect of playing in one of the top leagues in the world genuinely excites her and finds it hard to stop smiling as she thinks of the teams and players she will be facing when the Bundesliga resumes in February.

'They have a lot of the best players in the world playing in their league and some of the top teams as well, so it's going to be a big challenge for myself, but I am looking forward to seeing how I deal with it and I how I match up against the best teams and the best players in the world.'

Before she returned to Germany there was the small matter of taking on the newly-crowned World champions USA in their San Diego backyard at the weekend.

Caldwell, who missed last year's game in San Jose owing to club commitments, stressed that Ireland's Euro 2017 challenge is far from over after just three games.

'The mood is great within the team. We are very positive because there are still a lot of games to play. We are quietly confident because we are getting better all the time as a team.

'We know we have to do the job as a team this coming year. We have a lot of important games where we have to pick up results and it is down to us, simple as that.'

Fingal Independent