It’s been a long way to the World Cup for Sara Doorsoun.
Her father is from Iran, her mother from Turkey, and the 27-year-old German had to begin her early days in football playing in a boys team.
The German, born in Köln, explained to Onefootball that things have changed since she was growing up.
“I started playing when I was three and 24 years ago it wasn’t like it is now,” Doorsoun laughs.
“Nowadays, a lot of girls play in the same teams as boys. But when I was three, four, five, six, that was something different.
“The boys looked at me like, ‘no, what are you doing in our team, we don’t want to play with girls.’ But then I was totally accepted. Now it’s different, sometimes you see five or six girls in a boys team but I was the only one.”
Undeterred by that, it should come as no surprise that she has continued to defy the odds and now finds herself at a World Cup.
Doorsoun played on and off for the Germany youth teams but didn’t make her senior bow for the German national team until she was 24. A year on, she was playing at the Euros, where Germany suffered defeat to Denmark in the quarter-finals.
Two years on, the country isn’t anticipating glory – as it usually does when the women play – with the World Cup just around the corner.
“After the Euros, nobody expects us to go there and win the World Cup,” Doorsoun admits. “Two years ago we were under a lot of pressure, everyone said we had to win, and we played really badly.
“We’re excited but there’s no pressure.”
“Now, nobody expects anything. There’s no pressure on us, but we want to show the world that we can do better than two years ago. We’re excited but there’s no pressure.
“We just have to give our best. Better than two years ago!”
A lot has changed since then. Steffi Jones, who gave Doorsoun her international chance, left in March 2018. Horst Hrubesch took over to guide the team to the World Cup. Since then, Martina Voss-Tecklenburg has arrived.
Doorsoun, despite all the change, is satisfied with life under the new head coach.
“There’s a lot more structure. I think I can say she’s a bit more German with the rules, if you know what I mean (laughs)!
“She gives us confidence, makes us know that it’s ok to make mistakes, that’s just natural. She wants us to give our best every single time.
“We feel very comfortable, I feel so confident with her because she just reminds us it’s human to make mistakes.”
And it isn’t just that. Over the past few months, Voss-Tecklenburg has already had the team playing in different styles, different formations.
“Sometimes games don’t work out how we want, so we need a plan B,” Doorsoun says.
“That’s something she helps us with – we have plan A, B, C. But for me it doesn’t matter, I like to play with a back four, or in a back three.”
As long as things go better than they did in 2017, everybody will be satisfied.