Miedema: “Any player would want to go to Rio Olympics”.
A quick glance at her achievements and it is easy forget that Bayern Munich striker Vivianne Miedema is still just 19. Ice-cold under pressure and endowed with the happy knack of making goalscoring look simple, the Netherlands’ No9 made her Dutch top-flight debut for SC Heerenveen at 15 and within two seasons (2013/14) was the BeNe league’s top scorer with 41 goals in 26 games.
Part of the Oranje senior national side since September 2013, the following summer she dropped back down a level to spearhead her country’s triumph at the Women’s U-19 EURO in Norway – finishing tournament top scorer and scooping the Golden Player award. Subsequently heading straight to Munich to join up with Bayern, Miedema’s momentum continued with Bundesliga title success in 2014/15, followed by starting all four of Netherlands’ games at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015.
Women’s Soccer United: Vivianne, let’s start by asking you for your favourite memories from the Netherlands’ triumph at the U-19 EURO two years ago?
Vivianne Miedema: Well I think the final itself [Editor’s note: a 1-0 win versus Spain, Miedema scoring the only goal] is the most special memory. It was really great to play that game, in front of a lot of people, but the whole tournament was cool. Playing well, winning games and having fun with my team-mates too – that tournament was one of highlights of my career so far.
WSU: The year 2014 as a whole was a very exciting one for you: top scoring in the BeNe league; getting amongst the goals for Netherlands’ seniors; signing for Bayern; winning the U-19 EURO… How did you cope with so much so fast?
VM: I don’t know, but I think I managed to stay quite normal during it, though it’s true that it all went fast. I was already part of the Netherlands’ senior team, then I only played for the U-19s because I still could, and both coaches [national and club] talked it over and decided I could go there. After that I went directly to Munich, which I was pretty nervous about, but I just tried to enjoy everything that was happening – it was a great period.
WSU: These are exciting times to be at Bayern, with the league title last season, the team clear at the top of the league again this term and a squad full of great players. How are you enjoying life in Munich?
VM: It’s great! I love the city, I love the team and we’re winning a lot of games. Everything is going fine, it couldn’t be better! We’ve brought in some new players again this year, but you can see we’re a real team. We do a lot of things together off the pitch and we really work for each other, which is one of our biggest strengths.
WSU: What are the club’s main ambitions for this year?
VM: Well of course we want to win the title again and if we do, we’ll get back into the Champions League and try to go further than we did this season, when we got knocked out by Twente [in the Round of 32]. Last season in the league we went unbeaten and that’s our goal this time too. It’s going to be even harder to do that, but I think we’ve got enough quality in the team to finish the season without losing a game.
WSU: Tell us about your experience at the World Cup in Canada? What was it like playing in front of such big crowds, with all that media interest?
VM: It was amazing, it’s why you play soccer! We played against Canada too of course [a 1-1 group-stage draw] in front of a full stadium, and the crowd was so loud – playing at such a big tournament was really cool. Maybe the Netherlands could have done better [Editor’s note: the Oranje were beaten 2-1 at the Round of 16 stage by eventual runners-up Japan] but for every single player it was a great experience.
WSU: The Netherlands are soon to host a four-team mini-tournament, with a place at the Olympic Football Tournament at stake. You face very tough opponents in Switzerland, Norway and Sweden, but how much would it mean to qualify for Rio 2016?
VM: I think it would be a very big step forward for us if we qualify. It’s going to be really hard, as all the teams are on the same level, so we’d have to play three good matches, but of course we’re not playing qualifiers for the EURO, so it’s great to have a really big tournament to aim for and train together for. It would be great to reach Brazil, I think it might even be bigger than Canada was last year. Just being part of the Olympics Games would be really cool and if you get the chance to play there, it’s something any player would want, so I really hope we make it.
WSU: One last question. How much are you looking forward to playing at UEFA EURO 2017 on home soil?
VM: We’re looking forward to it a lot! Every time I’m back in the Netherlands with the national team I can see the interest growing, they’re showing loads of adverts for it and people are getting more and more into in it – it’s really big already. We know that we’re better than we were at the World Cup last year too. I’m not going to say we’re going to win, but I really feel we have a good chance. We’ll play at home, which is already an advantage, we’re making big steps as a team under our new coach [Arjan van der Laan], and we can’t wait!
UK-born but currently based in Spain, I’ve been covering men’s and women’s football for UEFA.com for several years, including trips to two Women’s U-19 European Championships