- Steffi Jones is on the verge of a unique hat-trick of achievements
- The former defender blazed a trail for today's female stars
- "I really try to give young players a chance"
When you hear the word hat-trick, then perhaps Cristiano Ronaldo's name comes to mind. After all, the Portuguese has made a habit of scoring trebles in the UEFA Champions League of late. Perhaps some FIFA World Cup™ legends also spring to mind: Gerd Muller, Geoff Hurst or maybe Gabriel Batistuta. Germany coach Steffi Jones, however, is on the verge of a very different kind of hat-trick.
On the field, Jones twice represented Germany at the FIFA Women's World Cup™, in 1999 and 2003. Off the field, she was President of the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011 Organising Committee, overseeing a memorable event. Now, Jones stands on the touchline, ready to lead Germany into the FIFA Women's World Cup France 2019, her first global showpiece as coach.
"It's a great challenge," Jones told FIFA.com of her new role in an interview following the qualifying draw for the 2019 Women's World Cup. "As President of the Organising Committee I didn't really know what I was supposed to do, but it was a great experience and it really made me grow as a person.
"Now as a coach, my dream is coming true,” she said. “I'm standing on the touchline and trying to make my team go far. I'm taking it step by step. I'm not perfect. I'm just human. That's what the players know and everybody around me, too: that I'm just trying my best.
“I always want to give my team the belief that many things are possible,” said Jones. “Don’t be arrogant, but be confident in what we can achieve as a team. If the other team is better on the day? Fine, as long as we gave our best. At the moment we're top of the world rankings. So why shouldn’t I dream of becoming world champion?"
— UEFA Women's EURO (@UEFAWomensEURO) 25 April 2017
First things first, though. Jones needs to ensure her side navigate a qualifying group in which Germany have been drawn against Iceland, Czech Republic, Slovenia and the Faroe Islands. Before attention turns to France 2019, however, Jones is concentrating solely on preparing her squad for the UEFA Women's EURO, which takes place in the Netherlands this European summer.
"I really try to give young players a chance," said Jones, who won the EURO as a player in 1997, 2001 and 2005. "Preparations are going well. Every team has the same problems with the Champions League, a lot of games in the league and injured players. But I'm not complaining. I'm excited for the EURO and we all want to have our best squad at the tournament."
Her former successes as a player make Jones a role model, but she has proved equally pioneering off the pitch since her retirement in 2007, developing women's football alongside former team-mates Silvia Neid and Birgit Prinz. "That's something that I always try to tell the players: that they are on a level that we worked hard for," said Jones.
"Everybody worked hard: the functionaries; the federation; me as a role model. The game has become more athletic; it's now a well-balanced competition,” she continued. “These players have to know that they're also role models and they have to work hard for what is to come for the next generation. I don't think most of the players know how much work it was to get to where we are now."
Working together for success
Jones has taken a long road, and it is far from reaching an end. She recognises that more work needs to be done to further the growth of women's football and has her own suggestion as to how to build on the improvements of recent years.
"We need to work more together," concluded Jones. "It's not men's football and women's football, it's one sport, but it's different in organisation sometimes. The structure in women's football is not always the same as in men's football. The sponsors may not be the same, but it's one sport and if we work together – and not against each other – then many things are possible."