"It's great that we can be icons for young girls instead of Messi & Ronaldo"
After winning the inaugural World Football Summit/AS Player of the Year Award, AS English talked to the Danish striker on her goal scoring secrets and the move to Chelsea.
Robert Lewandowski (Warsaw, 1988) and Pernille Harder (Ikast, 1992), have been chosen as the World Football Summit/Diario AS Players of the Year 2020 in the men's and women's game
The first WFS/AS Player of the Year award is a reflection on successful campaigns for both strikers who were the year's highest scoring players in men's and women's football. They were chosen by the readers of AS.com and a specialist jury.
After the announcement, AS English caught up with the Danish captain and new Chelsea FC forward Pernille Harder.
AS English: Congratulations on winning the first ever World Football Summit and Diario AS Player of the Year Award, it's another one to add to the ever growing collection.
Pernille Harder: Yes, thank you. There have been a few this year. So, yes, it's something I'm proud of.
AS English: On the subject of awards, I just wanted to pick up on something that you put on your social media profile when you won the UEFA award. You said that you hoped that the award served as an inspiration for kids, and that you dreamt about this when you were a young girl. When the young Pernille was starting off her footballing career, who were your inspirations and your role models?
Pernille Harder: I think when I was young, there were not so many women players or games to see on platforms or on TV, so most of my idols were actually male players. Marta da Silva actually was one player I looked up to and she was a big idol. I watched You Tube clips of here so yes, she was a big inspiration.
AS English: When you were growing up I mean there was very little coverage for the women's game on television…in Denmark or anywhere for that matter.
Pernille Harder: Exactly, there was not that much. I don't remember seeing many women's football games on television actually when I was a kid. It has been in the past five years I feel like it's really growing and many games are now on television, and many of our games in England can be watched in Denmark. I find it really good that so many young girls can watch us play and now we can be their idols, instead of Messi and Ronaldo.
AS English: Just moving forward to the current day, you recently moved at the end of the summer from Wolfsburg in the Frauen Bundesliga to the Women's Super League (WSL), what differences have you noticed in playing styles between both leagues?
Pernille Harder: It's very high level in England. It was also high in Germany, but I think in more games here there is a general higher level. I think this level sees more teams competing in the top five.
AS English: You've only been in London for two and a half months, three months…how has the adaptation to the new surroundings and new environment and the new club been ?
Pernille Harder: It’s been good. I think, adapting into this team has been pretty easy, everyone in team has been welcoming me so that part has been really easy. It's very professional and feel like I have everything I could ask for here actually so I can focus on my game. I really enjoy playing and training with so many good players everyday. Adapting to life in London has been a bit different because of Covid, so I haven't really been able to experience London the way I want to. Hopefully I'll be doing that next year.
AS English: When the Wolfsburg offer was accepted and you knew you were moving to Chelsea and with the fee attached to your signature. How did you feel…was there any stigma, or pressure added to the fact that you were the most expensive player in women's football?
Permille Harder: There will always be some kind of pressure on me on at this level and of course a price label puts on a little pressure but it's something we, as football players have to work with. I have been having pressure on me since I've won my first title and first individual award, it’s something I'm kind of used to. I was just excited when a new chapter in my career opened, I had three and a half years at Wolfsburg but now a new chapter coming here to the English league and to Chelsea was just really exciting and inspiring for me too.
AS English: We saw that at Wolfsburg last season you scored 38 goals and 31 games, and just taking a look your statistics when you were with Linkoping, and the Danish national side, you just score goals pretty regularly…it's scary the amount of goals you score. What's your secret?
Pernille Harder: I mean I don't want to reveal my secret.… I know what you mean. One thing is to train on shooting but it's also about being on the right place at the right time, it's about reading the game. It’s also being able to score in different ways like the easy finishes but also with headers and from distance. I do everything I can to be in the box whenever I see an opportunity for goal scoring.
AS English: I see the draw for the Champions League was made today and you have got a trip to Benfica coming up. What are your personal objectives with the club?
Pernille Harder: My personal objective is the same as the clubs, actually, so that's good. It is for us to win as many titles as possible. The English league, I would love to get that in my first season here, but then also winning Champions League that is a big aim for the club.
AS English: You will have seen the news from the British government, whereby from the December 2nd, they're hoping to get some supporters back into the stands. How has it been to play behind closed doors for you ? And what's your view with having the supporters coming back to Kingsmeadow when the time comes?
Pernille Harder: It has been a weird a situation, every game not having fans and we miss them a lot. It is different playing the games and not hearing fans or seeing the fans every weekend. I hope that it will be possible after the 2nd of December that we can get our fans back on stadiums…both for us but also for our fans. They also deserve to come and watch our play also play, so, that there would be amazing news if that happens.