Monday 21 October 2019

Adored on many fronts, Germany star Marozsan is ready to shine on the biggest stage

Dzsenifer Marozsan. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images
Dzsenifer Marozsan. Photo: Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Luke Edwards

It will come as little surprise to learn that Germany have entered another tournament believing they are destined to win it. Some things never change.

A nation which has won the World Cup twice and been crowned champions of Europe eight times is in typically confident mood.

Despite a relatively difficult qualification campaign - in which they lost to Iceland - the Germans are convinced they are the team to beat.

Only the United States sit above them in the Fifa rankings and, according to their biggest star, Dzsenifer Marozsan, there is nothing for them to fear in their rivals. If it sounds arrogant, if the Germans stray the wrong side of that thin line from time to time, they can be forgiven when it is founded on such a convincing track record of success.

"A lot of teams are able to play for the title," said Marozsan ahead of Germany's opening game against China in Rennes today. But our claim is to stay in the tournament until the end.

"We definitely have the potential, but everyone who has played an international tournament knows you need to achieve much more than having the potential to be successful."

There are not many better players in the world than Marozsan, neither are there many more popular ones. When Lyon's swashbuckling side sauntered their way past Barcelona to win a fourth successive Champions League final in Budapest last month, there was one player whose popularity surpassed everyone - and it was not hat-trick scorer Ada Hegerberg, the Norwegian striker who, sadly, will play no part in this World Cup.

Marozsan's name was loudly cheered before the game, she was given a standing ovation when she emerged to warm up and when the 27-year-old midfielder opened the scoring, the whole stadium seemed to roar its delight.

It was a strangely enthusiastic reaction to the captain of Germany putting her side in the lead after just five minutes in a game where locals in Barcelona shirts heavily outnumbered the visitors from Lyon.

But Marozsan's fame transcends national borders and she will be celebrated just as much in France as she was in the country of her birth last month.

"Of course, I have a heart beating for Hungary," said a player who has already led Germany to Olympic gold, scoring the winning goal in the final in Rio in 2016.

"Nearly all of my family is based in Hungary. On the other side, I am so proud to play for the German national team, the country where I grew up. I have to be very thankful to the German federation, who invested a lot in my career as a footballer and that's the reason for me wearing with proudness the German national team jersey.

"I was four when we moved to Germany. The reason was that my father (Jonas) was a professional football player. And the last club of his career as a footballer was the German club FC Saarbrucken. He played two years for this club.

"During this time my brother and me went to the German school and play school. Very fast we were integrated in the society and felt very comfortable with the whole family. And that's the reason my parents stayed with us in Germany. My parents wanted to offer the best possible future for us.

"With regards to football I never had to make a choice between Hungary or Germany. The Hungarian federation has never called me or invited me to play for them. But the German federation invited me when I was 13."

It is rare for a player to be loved in two countries and virtually unheard of for someone to be adored in three, like Marozsan.

A Champions League winner with Frankfurt - the last team to deny Lyon the European crown - in 2015, Marozsan has spent the past three seasons with football's most dominant club side, winning the league and European Cup double at the end of every campaign.

Having struggled at the start of her career with homesickness, when she left home aged 17 to play for Frankfurt, adapting to the more relaxed French culture has been a pleasure rather than a chore.

"The French culture and the way of life is much more relaxed and with less stress," she said.

"I always love to give the following example: no one is angry when you are late to an appointment. In Germany, you would have (trouble) immediately, from the first time it is a very big problem."

She has been lauded in France for her dominant displays in club football, but this World Cup is a chance to showcase her talent to a global audience.

Having missed the 2011 World Cup through injury and finishing fourth in 2015, this is a career-defining summer as she enters her peak years, and Germany are looking good again.

It would be foolish not to consider them one of the favourites to win the final in Marozsan's beloved Lyon, even if they never tire of telling you so. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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