Even the chancellor in the dressing room could not console the footballers. Olaf Scholz told national coach Martina Voss-Tecklenburg's team after the bitter European Championship final in Wembley how proud they were of this team at home. Nevertheless, Alexandra Popp, Svenja Huth, Merle Frohms, Lena Oberdorf and all the others left England's football temple with tears in their eyes or at least wet eyes.
At the end of a great tournament, the DFB women said goodbye with a lot of pride. "Nevertheless, I believe that we will sleep little or not at all tonight, or if we do, then badly," said Voss-Tecklenburg.
A proud Chancellor nonetheless
On Twitter, SPD politician Scholz attested to the European runners-up's 2-1 defeat after extra time in the final against England as a "world-class performance in a close game. It was a thrilling tournament and the whole of Germany is proud of this team!"
"We were close, especially after the 1-1 draw. We're very unhappy," admitted Voss-Tecklenburg. Svenja Huth, who replaced the injured goalscorer Alexandra Popp as captain, said in a dejected and blunt manner: "It just sucks to get the 1:2 so close to the end."
Chloe Maggie Kelly's winning goal in the 110th minute in front of a record crowd of 87,192 spectators caused deafening cheers and the Lionesses' first international title ever. In the 79th minute, Lena Magull had equalized the Lionesses' lead for the first time through Ella Toone (62nd) and made Germany dream of the title.
"We have to let that sink in first. We're still happy and proud that we've reached so many people," said Huth from Wolfsburg. "I just think that we worked incredibly well as a team," said Voss-Tecklenburg. The 54-year-old was European champion four times as a player, but as a coach she missed her first title with the DFB women.
Debate about possible handball
Those responsible also quarreled with the video assistants after the lost final. It was about the scene in the 26th minute when the score was 0-0, when a possible handball by England captain Leah Williamson was checked in the penalty area. But there was no penalty. Voss-Tecklenburg spoke of a "clear handball".
When asked if her team was cheated, the 54-year-old replied: "I don't want to say the word. But at the level of a final at the European Championships, that shouldn't happen." Joti Chatzialexiou, head of national teams at the German Football Association, criticized the work of the video assistants in general at the EM. "It's the third or fourth time at this tournament that there hasn't been any intervention. It's very disappointing. When it's taken away from you like that, it hurts," he said.
However, the players didn't raise the issue much when they went to the bus. After spending the night at the team's headquarters in Watford, northwest of London, the return flight to Frankfurt was scheduled for Monday morning. In the afternoon, the soccer players want to present themselves to the fans on the town hall balcony in the Römer - even if they don't bring the trophy with them.
"I would very, very much wish that we could feel what was apparently started in Germany tomorrow," said Voss-Tecklenburg, whose team has gained enormous popularity in the past four weeks.