MILTON KEYNES, England (Reuters) – Alexandra Popp missed the last two women’s European Championships through injuries but the German skipper has more than made up for it with six goals in this edition following a double in Wednesday’s semi-final win over France.
Eight-time champions Germany beat France 2-1 with Popp scoring the opener in the first half and the winner in the second to book a spot in Sunday’s final at Wembley against hosts England.
Popp is playing at her first Euros at the age of 31 but she is leading by example having scored nearly half of Germany’s goals at the tournament, with the rest of her team mates chipping in with seven.
“I have to admit I am more emotional than I used to be because I know how I have arrived at this point. Being here, having the opportunity to perform and being fully fit at this stage makes me very proud,” Popp told reporters.
“But I also have to say a big thanks to everyone who has helped me — the medical staff at my club, the coaches both at club level and here. They kept believing in me and they gave me the opportunity to be here.
“I’ve become very dangerous now, like in the past. It wasn’t the case for quite a while because I was injured.”
Popp blew her chances of winning the title with Germany in 2013 when she played through an ankle ligament injury to help Wolfsburg win the treble in 2012-13, missing the Euros as a result.
A knee injury in 2017 saw her miss the Euros again and another injury last year would have meant a third edition without a continental tournament for Popp had it not been postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A positive COVID test last month did not deter the forward either as she put all her problems behind her to score in every game so far — a tournament record.
On Sunday, she will not only be fighting for the title but also the Golden Boot having joined England’s Beth Mead at the top of the tournament’s goal scoring charts, but for Popp it is all about the team.
“If I don’t get these passes, I don’t score. It makes me happy when they create chances for me to score,” she said, praising the team’s spirit as the best she had seen in a decade.
“It’s not my main objective to win the Golden Boot, the main objective is to win the Euros.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)