Birmingham City goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger wins SSE Women’s FA Cup player of the round
Birmingham City Ladies’ spot-kick hero Ann-Katrin Berger says she is ecstatic to be part of a select group of players to walk on the Wembley turf after inspiring the Blues to a place in the SSE Women’s FA Cup final in May and walking away with a top gong in the process.
The German stopper pulled off several impressive saves in normal time of Birmingham’s FA Cup semi-final with Chelsea and the penalty shoot-out as City dramatically defeated the London club.
Berger’s display between the sticks won her the Player of the Round accolade, but the 26-year-old, who signed from Paris Saint Germain last summer, was quick to praise the efforts of her team-mates who defended resolutely and were clinical when it mattered against their fancied opponents.
Marc Skinner’s side will now face off against Manchester City on May 13, an occasion Berger said she is relishing.
“I can’t wait for the final now,” Berger said. “I think the whole team are in good shape, and all the girls are looking forward to Wembley, it’s a big final for everybody.
“How many players can say they’ve played at Wembley? I can’t wait to see the stadium – it will be my first visit.
“As a German girl growing up, it’s a massive thing to go to Wembley.
“I would be lying if I said I was afraid about the game, the most important thing is you have to play as a team, not as individuals, when you have a really strong team, everything can happen.”
Berger admitted enjoying the cut and thrust of a penalty shootout, as it gives goalkeepers the chance to step forward and shine for their side, an opportunity Berger seized with both of her safe hands earlier this week.
“I really love penalties and my team know that,” she said. “We were practising a bit in the last few days before the semi-final, and I think I gave my team confidence.
“For a goalkeeper, you can’t lose, you can only be the hero, it’s a perfect thing for a goalkeeper and I love it.”
Berger penned terms with the Blues in June 2016 after two seasons with PSG, during which time she reached the 2015 UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
Birmingham started their FA WSL 1 Spring Series campaign on Sunday against Sunderland, with Berger again between the posts.
Manager Skinner has hailed the influence of the custodian, who he says brings a confidence, exemplary attitude and strength on and off the pitch that oozes through the rest of the squad.
“She’s got a fantastic attitude that permeates between everybody in the group,” said Skinner. “She gives you confidence with everything that she does, and the way she holds herself.
“When it came to penalties, I had a feeling we might win [in the semi-final] based on that. She’s tremendous, and I really, really enjoy working with her.
“She’s got a great personality too, and it’s important that she’s a good person before she’s great goalkeeper. She ticks both boxes for me.”
Berger said she is loving life in the Midlands, and added she chomping at the bit to be part of a winning Blues side.
“I have really enjoyed my time here,” she said. “I like the club, the mentality, and the players a lot – even though I feel a bit old!
“But it’s really nice to be here, and because of the competitiveness of the league, I can improve myself every day. I’m looking forward to the next few years.”
Tickets are now on sale for the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final on Saturday 13th May at Wembley Stadium connected by EE. For the second consecutive year, kids go free to the final, tickets can be purchased here: https://ticketing.thefa.com/
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