Pernille Harder sprinkles a fine pinch of wisdom when she talks about the upcoming summer vacation these days. This is shorter for the 27-year-old Dane and her Wolfsburg colleagues this time than usual: The title collectors can relax from the Mittelland Canal after the cup final on Saturday against SGS Essen, then the preparation for the next season begins. “But that will only be a problem if we make it one,” smiles Harder, who is still pursuing a big goal with the North Germans before the start of the upcoming season.
From August 21, the Champions League for women in Bilbao and San Sebastian, which was interrupted due to the corona pandemic, will be played in tournament form. VfL Wolfsburg was in the finals of the premier class two years ago, but lost to Olympique Lyon 1-4 after extra time. The sting of this defeat is deep – especially with the extremely ambitious Harder, who emphasizes: »I have a great desire for this title.«
As a child, she should write an essay about what she wants to achieve in her life. Little Pernille was just ten, but despite her tender age she wrote clearly that she didn’t want to just become a professional footballer. But the best in the world. Some believe that the striker with light blonde hair has already achieved this goal. At last year’s World Cup, however, she was not allowed to step onto the largest stage in her industry: Denmark had failed in the playoffs due to the eventual runner-up Netherlands.
Nevertheless, Harder was part of the global tournament in France – as a spectator. In the yellow national shirt of Sweden, she sat on the bleachers to support her partner Magdalena Eriksson. When the 1-0 victory over Canada with the Swedes reached the quarterfinals, Eriksson and Harder were drawn to each other, the two women kissed on the lips. At first Harder did not know that there was a photographer who captured the scene in the Prinzenpark Stadium in Paris. The – that same evening – 3000 new followers on Instagram and the mostly positive comments that fluttered in from all over the world afterwards, she liked very much.
Harder realized that, as a prominent footballer, she naturally serves as a role model for many other homosexual people who can make their lives easier by dealing naturally with their relationship. Like her more well-known colleagues Megan Rapinoe from the USA and Ada Hegerberg from Norway, she also campaigns against grievances and for equality in women’s football. Harder is now also taking on increasing responsibility as an athlete in Wolfsburg. “I am now more expressing my opinion, saying what I think and what I believe in,” emphasizes the attacker, who signed with VfL at the end of 2016, has won the national double with the club three times since then and the fourth episode with a win in the Cologne Cup final can write in this series.
She already received the trophy for the best scorer last Sunday – with her 27 league goals she scored nine more than the second-placed Hoffenheimer Nicole Billa. Together with Alexandra Popp and Almuth Schult, two of the 2016 German Olympic champions, she has also formed the trio of VfL captains this season. She brings her leadership skills to the field, says Harder – and sees herself “a bit as the right hand” by trainer Stephan Lerch. In the season just ended, the 1.68 meter tall Dane got a lot of time, but was also replaced from time to time in view of the final tasks on the home stretch of the season.
It was not easy for him, says Wolfsburg’s coach – and cites the tough game against Freiburg on the third to last day as an example. »It felt like a handball game – and you have to have an action that makes the difference. She is the player for it – no matter what condition she is in, «says Lerch, describing one of Harder’s footballing qualities, which struck against the Breisgauers a quarter of an hour before their change to the 2-0 final score.
In the cup final against Essen, the Jutlander will now be dealing with her future team colleague Lena Oberdorf, among others. The 18-year-old all-rounder, Germany‘s youngest World Cup player since last summer, is moving to Wolfsburg for the coming season. The next good catch by the Wolfsburgers around Harder, who says about Oberdorf: »She is very talented and well on the ball, a clever player. With the right mentality, she has a great future ahead of her. «
Harder has long had clear thoughts about her own future: Pernille Harder already knows the Danish, Swedish and German leagues, two more leagues are to be added by the end of her career. Says the woman, who knew when she was ten that she wanted to become the best soccer player in the world.