Goalkeeper Anke Preuss – Liverpool Women
From playing with her brother and his friends to playing in the FA Women’s Super League. Considered one of the worlds top leagues for female football. The 26-year-old German made her debut in the league 2 years ago and has yet to stop killing it.
What is your biggest weakness on and off the pitch?
I think my biggest weakness is my mind. The mind can win and lose games. Obviously, I have my weaknesses on the pitch, as every athlete does. There I know exactly what I have to work on, how I do that, and more importantly, you can see physical progress. That’s different with the mind. First of all, nobody sees if you are struggling and it’s not always easy to control my mind. Especially when I’m facing a tough situation and I’m on a little down trip.
Off the pitch that’s easy and all my friends know. It’s bread with Nutella. I really can’t live without it. I do try every once in a while cause it’s obviously not good for your body and for the planet, due to large amounts of the palm oil. I know all that but after two weeks max I need a slice of bread with Nutella.
Has there ever been a moment where you have regretted to become a pro athlete?
No, never have I ever regretted this decision and I probably never will. Just because I think having talent is a gift, that shouldn’t get wasted. Like I am a lucky one to be able to do what I love for a living. I do have to admit that sometimes fears about the future are creeping up. Questions like “Will I get a job after my career?”, “How will I compete without any job experience?”, “What kind of person will I be without football being part of my life?”. Those are thoughts you always have on your mind. I’m still always grateful for being a professional athlete.
What is your happiest moment in football?
My happiest moment in football was winning the champions league with Frankfurt, even though I didn’t play in the final. It was such a great achievement. Our work of two years paid off in the final. It was in the capital of our home country. Family and friends were in the stadium. It was a sick moment, which I will never forget.
Why did you choose football? Were there any other sports you loved when growing up?
That’s my brother’s fault. He played football and I pretty much did everything he did. So I begged him to take me to the pitch together with his friends. I guess, I got lucky he chose football. Ever since I stuck with football. I tried a couple other ones like tennis and swimming, but nothing brought me the same joy as football does. It sounds weird, but I absolutely love diving. There’s nothing better than lifting yourself in the air, stretch your whole body and touch the ball over the bar. I could do that all day.
What are you most grateful for?
There are probably a few things I’m grateful for, but since I have to pick one, I go for the endless support of my family. My parents have always been there for me. They drove me to every single training session and game. They spared no effort to help me taking every chance I got. They spent hours waiting for me to be done with the sesh. I also really appreciate that they let me play football. Instead of saying it’s not a sport for girls or forcing me to try different hobbies, they supported and defended me, even when people would criticize me for playing football. They’ve always been proud of me. It’s the same with my brother. He has never been jealous, even if my parents had to spend a bit more time with me. They also did a good job keeping it even between us. When we were younger he took me to the pitch every time he went with his friends. We spent hours on the local ground and came up with the craziest excuses why we got home late again. It was such a fun time. He is a brother I can always count on. My brother and parents are the reason why I made it this far.
What is a weakness that you have overcome? If you have one what would you tell a young girl how to overcome the same situation?
I was way too nervous at a young age. Always afraid of making a huge mistake that lead to a goal and therefore ruining the hard work of the team. That’s the struggle of being a goalkeeper, most of the time your mistake puts the team under pressure. I had to learn some strategies to calm down before the game, cause if your mind is going crazy you can be the most talented player in the world, but you won’t be able to compete on a high level. I would tell a young girl that you are not as alone as you think. Sometimes you can feel like the loneliest person on the pitch, but it’s still a team sport and I have never encountered a situation why my team hasn’t backed me up after a mistake. Just relax and try to do your best. Mistakes will happen; it’s your job to learn from them and to do better next time. One action never defines your whole game. Try to look for all the positives you had before that mistake.
What would you tell your younger self know considering all the lessons you have learned to date?
I would tell my younger self to care more about me as a person. Professional football is a business. It’s rare someone will care about you, you need to look after yourself. In the same breath, I would encourage myself to keep going and to never let any doubts or setbacks get you off track, cause this lifestyle will give you so much joy and experiences you hardly find in another profession.
What do you think is the difference between good and great goalkeeper?
You are a good goalkeeper when you consistently save the shots you are expected to save. On top of that, a great goalkeeper makes saves that even surprise his own teammates. A great goalkeeper questions every goal they conced, even the so-called unsavable ones. There’s always something you could have done better which would have increased your chance to save that ball. The will to improve all the time will bring you to the top level.
Do you have any rituals before matches to help calm nerves?
I have so many rituals, that I can’t even list them all. I still get quite nervous before games so rituals help me to not get distracted and to have a smooth morning on game day. For example, I always pack my bag the night before game day just so I wont be stressed out and afraid of forgetting anything. Then I have simple ones like tying my left boot first, so that my right boot feels tighter during the game.