The Germany national team returned today to a celebratory crowd in Frankfurt after a proud run to the Final of the 2022 Women's European Championships, where they narrowly lost to England in extra-time yesterday. Bayern Munich have a huge contingent in coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's squad, and the club's top brass offered their own words of congratulations on the national team's strong showing, via FCBayern.com.
"I would have very much liked the German team to win the European Championship, because I know how much a final victory like that inspires," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić. "But...the German players will still return to their home clubs with pride and mostly fond memories.
"In the end, the winner of the European Championship was women's soccer as a whole. I hope that the emotional push we all felt will now further invigorate the women's Bundesliga."
"You are heroines," said president Herbert Hainer. "And have inspired the whole nation. Soccer also has a feminine side, and we all need to promote that much more together."
Finally, CEO Oliver Kahn: "A huge compliment to the German team for this inspiring European Championship performance and the exciting final at Wembley. The German players stormed into the hearts of the fans at this tournament. It was an advertisement not only for women's soccer, but for the entire sport."
"We're delighted to welcome her to FC Bayern as a European champion," said Hainer.
Though it was heartbreak yesterday, it is all smiles today as the team and the players all look forward to the future. They were greeted with fanfare befitting their tremendous achievements by a huge crowd at the Frankfurter Römer:
A homecoming for heroes, indeed.
Germany weren't always expected to go so far but they have dazzled, delighted, and delivered all tournament long. They've now firmly established themselves as a heavyweight contenders for next summer's World Cup.
Three years ago, Alexandra Popp and her teammates asked: "Do you know my name?" in a promotional campaign for the 2019 World Cup. Hopefully much has changed since then, and we've all gotten to know these stars of the game much better. Though still, there's a long way to go, and every avenue — the Frauen-Bundesliga, UEFA Women's Champions League, the women's international game — through which to pursue the greater recognition and interest they deserve.
For now, even as we keep one eye to the future, let's savor the memories from an absolutely unforgettable bunch who made a gallant run.
Welcome home, and onto the season.