Hope Solo is doubtless considered one of finest goalkeepers in girls’s soccer. The veteran custodian has earned 193 worldwide caps [correct as of 17 March 2016] with the USA nationwide workforce and has emerged because the aspect’s heroine on quite a few events. The tall and powerfully-built shot-stopper, whose cat-like reflexes have annoyed numerous strikers, gained gold at three successive Girls’s Olympic Soccer Tournaments with the Stars and Stripes, and triumphed on the FIFA Girls’s World Cup Canada 2015™ final yr. There, Solo was additionally awarded the adidas Golden Glove because the event’s finest goalkeeper.
FIFA.com chatted with the 34-year-old about her first encounter with soccer legend Mia Hamm, her personal performances thus far, her want for perfection and one other gold medal.
FIFA.com: 4 years in the past you mentioned that 2012 was all about successful a gold medal. Now you could have gained Olympic gold 3 times in a row and final yr you additionally lifted the Girls’s World Cup. What’s your goal now?
Hope Solo: In my private opinion, all nice athletes and footballers can by no means have sufficient medals and trophies. They’re by no means happy with their recreation. They all the time wish to make themselves higher, they wish to make their team-mates higher they usually wish to win extra. We play this recreation as a result of we like it, however we love competitors as properly. I like to compete.
Are you happy together with your performances thus far?
In my eyes the world hasn’t seen the very best of me but. I’ve performed in a handful of main tournaments, whether or not it’s the Olympics or the World Cup, however I don’t suppose I’ve ever performed my final finest. I’ve had nice moments right here and there. I am by no means happy and all the time need extra for myself. I’ve all the time needed to push myself to the subsequent degree. There’s all the time one thing in my recreation that I wish to work on to turn into higher. The laborious factor about being a goalkeeper is even in case you are as match as may be and as mentally ready as you’ll be able to probably be, typically the sport doesn’t can help you make the play that you’re able to make. That is often as a result of your workforce is so nice, or your defence is so nice or perhaps the photographs are off [target]. Typically you wish to do extra however the recreation doesn’t can help you do extra.
What’s subsequent for you?
I hope I will carry out on the highest degree and at my finest. The Olympics are across the nook and I hope they’re aggressive. I need some hard-fought matches. I wish to present the world how well-prepared I’m. However on the finish of the day, if I do not make a save or contact the ball then I am proud as a result of I do know that I’ve helped organise my defence. I wish to present the world the very best of me earlier than I retire. I don’t know when that day is [laughs]. We rely a lot on the World Cup, on the massive levels for these moments. Within the males’s recreation they get these moments each match as a result of their leagues are so aggressive. We’re nonetheless constructing our league in America. I don’t get these form of aggressive video games yearly; we now have to attend 4 years for the form of aggressive event we’re all itching for.
It feels like you actually need the strain…
I like strain. I believe goalkeepers like strain. A whole lot of nice athletes do.
Do you suppose you’ll be able to defend your gold medal in Brazil this summer time?
No workforce has ever gained the World Cup after which rotated and gained the Olympic gold medal. Doing one thing that is by no means been carried out – once more that’s strain – and if we do it we might make historical past. It’s going to be a enjoyable problem for us. A whole lot of instances groups most likely don’t win the Olympics after successful the World Cup since you’ve performed on the highest degree, feelings are excessive, and also you suppose: ‘What can beat this? We’re the very best of the very best.’ It is laborious to show round and rise once more to a different event. For Brazil, our squad will go from 23 to 18 gamers, so it’s a very completely different workforce. That’s what’s subsequent; we’re aiming for that gold medal.
If you first joined the senior nationwide workforce do you bear in mind something you realized from the way in which the older gamers carried themselves and behaved?
My first camp with the complete workforce was in 1999. That was the Briana Scurrry, Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain era. I bear in mind getting into, only a 17-year-old child, and considering ‘I’ve what it takes’. I used to be very athletically gifted however mentally I didn’t have it. I didn’t have the method but, the persistence, the swagger or the boldness. I didn’t know what I used to be stepping into. I bear in mind having a coaching match among the many squad. I took the ball and punted it to our forwards. Mia Hamm was the striker and the ball went straight up after which straight down, proper to her. She stopped proper within the center and mentioned: ‘I’m not going to have that form of a ball’, and plenty of curse phrases, after all. She mentioned: ‘You’d higher learn to drop-kick the ball, in any other case I am by no means going hit it.’ I bear in mind considering: ‘What’s a drop-kick?’ I simply took the ball and kicked it. I realized that the forwards might management the ball higher if I gave them a decrease angle of a go. I realized how one can drop-kick and to this present day I am often called one of many world’s finest at it, to jumpstart our counter-attacks. I thank Mia Hamm for yelling at me after I was a 17-year-old child and scared to dying.
Sir Alex Ferguson all the time mentioned his best power was expertise. How helpful are your experiences for the nationwide workforce?
Expertise, particularly in goalkeeping, is just about all the pieces. You see a whole lot of goalkeepers who’ve the expertise and make these unbelievable saves. Saves I maybe couldn’t make. You then flip round and they’re letting in targets they shouldn’t be, tender targets. That reveals the inconsistency of goalkeeping. It takes expertise and a sure form of mentality to essentially restrict the quantity of ups and downs, highs and lows in your recreation. And to learn the sport and preserve your workforce organised. I’ve seen a whole lot of nice goalkeepers who make a whole lot of nice saves. You wish to make the job look straightforward. That drives me loopy, particularly in America. Typically the individuals simply need that nice enormous dive. Dives are made for motion pictures. That’s not nice goalkeeping. You need effectivity and easy work. That’s what I like in goalkeeping. It’s about your angles, studying the sport, placing your defenders in the appropriate place and it’s about utilizing your footwork and never all the time having to dive only for present.