Prinz, Birgit


Prinz, Birgit
▪ 2008

born Oct. 25, 1977, Frankfurt am Main, Ger.

      On Sept. 30, 2007, in the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Women's World Cup final against Brazil in Shanghai, Birgit Prinz, playing in her third World Cup final, opened the scoring in the 52nd minute on the way toward a 2–0 win for Germany's second straight Women's World Cup title. It was a record 14th goal in World Cup matches for the German striker; since her debut in 1994, Prinz had made 169 appearances for her country and scored 114 goals. In addition to two World Cup trophies, Prinz had secured three consecutive FIFA Player of the Year awards (2003–05) and two Olympic bronze medals (2000 and 2004), and by 2007 she reigned supreme in the female side of association football (soccer).

      Prinz was an all-around sports enthusiast as a girl, with swimming, trampoline, and athletics among her varied outdoor pursuits. Her soccer-playing father encouraged her to take up that sport too, coaching her while she played as a youth for SV Dörnigheim and FC Hochstadt. In 1992 she changed clubs to FSV Frankfurt, and two years later, at age 17, she moved on to the premier league FFC Frankfurt. She soon developed as a striker of exceptional ability. At more than 1.79 m (5 ft 10 in), Prinz was taller than most of her contemporaries, with a physical fitness level above most of the other players on the team. With drive, speed, and a clinical finish in front of goal, she was widely regarded as the number one player in Europe. Prinz's team claimed four European championships, two Union des Associations Européennes de Football Cups, eight German league championships, and eight domestic cup trophies. Because German women's soccer was played at a semiprofessional level, however, she broadened her experience in 2002 by playing a season in the U.S. for the professional Women's United Soccer Association Carolina Courage, helping that team win the WUSA championship before returning to FFC Frankfurt.

      Prinz's rise to international fame was equally rapid. She made her international debut for Germany at age 16 as a 72nd-minute substitute against Canada; she scored in the 89th minute to secure a 2–1 victory. From then on it was an almost unbroken series of triumphs.

      Despite a high-profile sponsorship with Nike and local collaboration with a BMW car franchise, Prinz was a private, publicity-shy person who still lived with her parents. She also demonstrated a deep social conscience; in 2005 she visited Afghanistan with the German charity Learn and Play Project, and she worked with FIFA on its antiracism agenda. Originally trained as a masseuse and later qualified as a physiotherapist, in 2007 she was studying for a degree in psychology at the University of Frankfurt. In November 2007 Prinz was awarded the Hessian Order of Merit for her outstanding success as a personality in the community.

Jack Rollin

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Universalium. 2010.

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