top of page

Lena Oberdorf - The Jewel in Germany's young generation's forge of Talent

Updated: Jul 17, 2020

18 year old German footballer. She plays for VfL Wolfsburg and the German national team.

Club career Lena Sophie Oberdorf was born on December 19, 2001 in Gevelsberg, Germany. She started playing football at TuS Ennepetal and after a while, she switched to TSG Sprockhövel, where she played in boys' teams until 2018. It can be quite surprising that she played in boys teams for so long, but as she recalls, it didn't work to her disadvantage. On the contrary, Oberdorf emphasizes how many positives she has learned from playing with the boys. Finally, in November 2017, she signed a three-year contract with the Frauen Bundesliga's club - SGS Essen. She made her debut for the club on September 9, 2018 in the second round of the DFB Cup against SV Henstedt-Ulzburg. She scored two goals in the 14-0 win. Six days later, on September 15, 2018, she made her Bundesliga debut in the away game against MSV Duisburg. In this match, she contributed two goals to 4-0 victory. It really gave her head start. Lena began to grow into a leading figure for her new team from the very beginning. Without any complexities she integrated into the team and was an important character in her debut season 2018/19. Lena Oberdorf played two matches in the DFB Pokal in which she scored two goals. In the Frauen Bundesliga, she played 16 matches and scored 9 goals. Summarizing, she had 18 appearances, in which she scored 11 goals. SGS Essen finished the season in 4th place, only one point behind the third placed team in the league table - FFC Frankfurt. In the recently finished 2019/20 Frauen Bundesliga season, she played a total of 24 matches, scoring 3 goals. She helped her team reach the final of DFB Pokal where they faced the perennial winners - Vfl Wolfsburg. A unique game, not only because of reaching the finals of this prestigious competition, but also individually for Lena, because she recently signed a contract with Vfl Wolfsburg. For the 2020/21 season, she will move to VfL Wolfsburg, where she signed a three-year contract until 2023.

International career

Oberdorf made her national team debut on October 28, 2014, at the age of 12, when the U-15 national team won 13-0 against Scotland. Two days later, she scored her first goal in an 8-0 win in another friendly against Scotland. In July 2016 she took part in the Nordic Cup with the U-16 national team. And in 2016, she was the youngest player in the squad of the U-17 national team for the World Cup in Jordan. During this tournament, she played in two group games against Venezuela and Cameroon and in the quarterfinals against Spain. She scored two goals. In 2017 she qualified with the team for the European Championship in the Czech Republic and was able to win it after a 3-1 final victory against Spain. She was also named the best player of the tournament. In 2018, she played six games for the U-19 national team, as part of the qualification for the European Championship. She was also part of the squad of the U-20 national team in summer 2018 and she participated in the U-20 Women's World Cup in France.

In December 2018, she was called-up by the national trainer Martina Voss-Tecklenburg for the winter training camp in Marbella for the first time with the senior team. Lena made her debut on April 6, 2019 in a 2-1 friendly against Sweden. At 17 years and 109 days, she became the eighth youngest player to debut for the national team. This is truly an impressive achievement but the best was yet to come. The list of players who got a call from Martina Voss - Tecklenburg and were about to play at the Women's World Cup in France was published. Lena Oberdorf's name was on that list, she was one of 23 players listed. When her name was included in the starting XI in the first round match against China, she became the youngest German player to debut in a World Cup at the age of 17 years, 5 months and 20 days, a record previously held by Birgit Prinz. The World Cup was an amazing experience for her. Not so long after this tournament, she scored her first international goal for the national team, on September 3, 2019, in an 8-0 victory against Ukraine. At the age of 17 years and 259 days, she is the sixth youngest goalscorer for the German national team.

Being in the spotlight It's the year 2020. Everyone interested in women's football is looking at world-class talent. Lena Oberdorf is in the spotlight. She was in the spotlight before and during the DFB Pokal final with SGS Essen when she played against her future club VfL Wolfsburg. Before the DFB Pokal final, the headlines of the newspapers and websites were almost all about one player, 18-year-old super talent - Lena Oberdorf. "Super talent", "jewel", "the big promise"- such terms appeared in the context of this young athlete. The final held in Cologne just a few days ago showcased Lena Oberdorf impressive clarity and maturity on the pitch. That game was special for Oberdorf because it was her farewell performance and she had to face her future club. She admitted that playing against her new club is a strange feeling:“The situation is really strange, but I am still under contract in Essen and will do everything we can to win. My heart is still beating clearly for the SGS at the moment".

She showed her loyalty and gratitude to the club by saying:

"Even if I go to Wolfsburg after this game, I will give everything for the SGS first. I owe a lot to the club and the city."

Despite losing on penalties, Essen presented very good football, the match was exciting. There has to be a special mention of the way Essen played the Pokal Final. They showed a lot of courage playing against Wolfsburg matching their physicality and quality nearly winning the cup. What about Lena? Well, Lena was solid in the defense and creative in the attack as usual, but she has already accustomed us to playing at a high level. The hype about the all-round footballer is unavoidable when SGS Essen was considered as an outsider in the DFB Pokal final against VfL Wolfsburg. But our jewel remains calm. She has little to do with the hype surrounding her and apparently, she doesn't read too much about herself.

"I rarely go online and look at articles about myself," the young footballer told SID. "I pay attention to what happens on the football pitch. Everything else is a bonus, I don't put so much emphasis on it” said Oberdorf.

She's down to earth. Her down-to-earth attitude was conveyed to her at home.

Right time, right place, right people It is worth emphasizing the big role of SGS Essen coach in the context of the development of young footballers. Ten years ago, Markus Högner started working as a coach at the Bundesliga SGS Essen women's club. The 53-year-old has long been taking care of talents in the club. In the past, SGS Essen colours were represented by players such as Lea Schuller, Sara Doorsoun, Linda Dallmann. Each of them played over 100 matches for the club. All of the players mentioned have trained under the guidance of Hogner, and now they are playing for the best clubs in European women's football. The coach is particularly proud of one player: Lena Oberdorf. The 18-year-old is no less than a "world-class talent." Extremely talented in football and physically amazingly mature. And Högner is not alone with all these praises. The teenager should quickly pull all German football out of the valley. There is hope that the glory days of German women's football will return. The hope is placed in this girl. As she possesses such potential, we can be sure that Germany will be back to the place where they belong, becoming the champions of Europe.

The new chapter On June 8, VfL Wolfsburg announced the transfer. Lena Oberdorf signed a contract with the German champion until June 30, 2023. The contract with Wolfsburg was to be a part of the team from July 1. Both clubs agreed earlier that Lena can play the DFB Pokal final with Essen. It's an excellent transfer move because Oberdorf is one of the most exciting talents in German football. And it's also a strong response to FC Bayern's transfer offensive. Lena Oberdorf doesn't hide the joy and excitement of moving to Wolfsburg: "I am absolutely convinced that VfL Wolfsburg with its top squad and great framework conditions is exactly the right club for personal development in the next few years and of course also to win titles." And I think it can't be denied. VfL Wolfsburg is a great place for self-development and learning and getting experience among the best players. However, what made her choose VfL rather than the second strength of the Frauen Bundesliga, FC Bayern Munich? "I wanted to stay in Germany," said Oberdorf. "And then it was really just a question of whether I would switch to VfL or to Bayern. VfL Wolfsburg is the more likable club for me. During the conversations, I noticed that the coach and the manager are very nice. The choice for Wolfsburg was not difficult for me. ” This is a big reinforcement for Wolfsburg, a great development opportunity for Lena, and a good treat for women's football fans.

Ralf Kellermann, VfL's sporting director, also expressed his happiness of this signing:

"Lena is one of the greatest talents in global women's football - so we are all the happiest that she decided on a future at VfL".

Oberdorf’s flexibility, passing range, intelligence in attacking and defensive awareness will probably allow her to fill in the role of the central midfielder in VfL. This place has been occupied by Gunnarsdottir so far, but after her departure, it seems that Lena will be one of the main candidates to fill the gap. Also her familiarity with playing as the attacking midfielder at SGS Essen could benefit her in terms of adapting to her new club's style of playing.

The absolute phenomenon of Lena Oberdorf Lena Oberdorf is only 18 years old and the amount of praise she gets in such a young age could have easily overwhelmed her. The coolness that Oberdorf exudes has not gone unnoticed even by one of the best in this game.

"She is very talented, well on the ball, a clever player. With the right mentality, she has a great future ahead of her," said Pernille Harder about her future teammate.

Such words from such a great player cannot be a coincidence. But as mentioned before, Lena Oberdorf is so down-to-earth literally and figuratively. We can only envy her for her strong mentality. Her body language is impressive and she is confident, always with her head up, even if her team concedes a goal, all you can see on her face is a disappointment, but there is never a desire to give up. Speaking about Lena's advantages, it's her maturity and understanding of the game that comes to one's mind. And most importantly, her work ethic. She's able to play wherever she is needed on the pitch. Her personality was also well described by Alexandra Popp, the captain of the German national team, who said that Lena is: "Ambitious, but not rigid."

She apparently is made to play football, because what is also noticeable is her extremely athletic physique. She is 1.74 m tall, physically very robust and she has an enormous presence in the air duels. Adding to all this her versatility, we get material for a world-class player.

Being an extremely experienced player at the age of only 18 We could have asked Lena Oberdorf about her top three career highlights and she’ll list achievements that most players don’t have by the time they retire. Firstly, going to a Women’s World Cup while being only 17 years old, secondly, beating England at Wembley in front of almost 78,000 fans and the third, winning the UEFA Under-17 Championship with Germany. These are the achievements of a player who is just 18 years old. Lena signed a contract with SGS Essen in the summer of 2018, and then her only experience in the women's game was playing with Germany's youth teams. Until then, she had played with boys at the TSG Sprockhovel. It's an uncommon journey, but in this case this journey has fast-tracked her development as a player and a person. Lena herself appreciates this and emphasizes that it had an impact on her further development: "The boys are very tough and very hard. Their body is more powerful than a female. I think it was a good decision to play as long as possible with the boys' team". Playing with and against the boys has not always been pleasant, but also in this Oberdorf sees some benefits. Despite her young age, Oberdorf is a real character in this dressing room already. It's directly related to her confidence. Such a strong character was needed growing up in the men’s game, where there were a lot of boys who didn’t like the fact that she was competing with them. “They say something like, ‘go back to the kitchen’ or something, but it doesn’t matter for me.” - says Oberdorf. Lena shows her confidence, and she doesn't prove it only on the pitch, as you can see, she is also a very strong mentally and quite a laid-back person. It seems that she is not bothered by the comments of others, she just does her job, she plays football and we have to admit that she does it really great. Playing against the boys had a positive impact on her further progress because without needing to adapt to the physical demands of senior football. And it has been noticed by Martina Voss-Tecklenburg, who a few months later called her to the senior team. Lena Oberdorf played her first World Cup at the age of 17, and after the tournament, she became a regular player in the DFB team.

Martina Voss-Tecklenburg described the young player as "fantastic" after the first game in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, where Obersdorf impressed everyone with her strong, composed and versatile style of play.

"With Lena, we want to introduce a physical presence," Voss-Tecklenburg explained after the match. "If we can do that with our youngest player, then that says a lot about her."

Flexibility and versatility What makes Lena the greatest young talent in German women's football today? It's her flexibility in playing in different positions on the pitch. This ability at such a young age is simply impressive. She is extremely versatile and she can play in all central positions on the pitch. Lena is the all-rounder, who can be used as a central defender and also as a central- creative midfielder. She is capable of playing in many different roles and can shift between various positions during the course of the match depending on the team’s needs. Lena Oberdorf admits that in the past, she played everywhere on the pitch and that's why she finds it so easy to constantly change position. .“At the boys’ team, I was a No.6 or a No.10. Now, I’m in the defence and it’s not that different from playing as a No.6. I think I’ll always play everywhere, wherever my best position is for the team, for the game.” - said Oberdorf. She has that unique desire to work for the team. Despite her individual successes, her drive is to perform for the benefit of those around her, not herself. She wants to improve all the time and alongside her unquestionable talent, this desire which makes her destined for greatness. It is worth emphasizing here that her role on the pitch is different in SGS Essen and in the German national team. During the 2019/2020 season for SGS Essen, she has played in four different positions: centre-back, centre-midfield, left-wing, and centre-forward. In each of these positions, she is capable of making a positive impact on her team. Most of the time, Oberdorf is played in central midfield, she is being extremely flexible with the role she plays. Her task on the pitch is to dictate the game and use her defensive awareness to prevent opposing attacks. In this Frauen Bundesliga campaign, she has averaged over 6 interceptions per 90 mins. Oberdorf is very intelligent, she can read the game very well. Meanwhile, In the national team, Oberdorf was played as the left-sided centre-half. On that position, she is able to use her strength and physical presence in the air. She can be dominant against opposing strikers. When Germans attack down the left side, Oberdorf is often a major part of these actions. She can play a pass into the central midfielder and immediately she can look for opportunities to make forward runs. She is given a very unique role in this area.

Defensive awareness and attacking mindset The German international is often put into these defensive roles due to her dominance in these areas. According to Wyscout, she was successful in 59% of her defensive duels this Frauen Bundesliga season. But what is even more impressive, she won 61% of her aerial duels. For SGS Essen, Lena is tasked with much more attacking responsibility than for her national side, but her defensive positioning stands out the most in her game. Oberdorf likes to use her physical presence to press the opponent from behind, making it harder for the opponent to play, and the same time reduces free space in the middle of the pitch. Lena is blessed with so much potential and such excellent physical conditions which made the Germany national coach - Martina Voss-Tecklenburg - appoint her as the new head of defense. At the last international match which was held in November 2019 at Wembley, she held the German defense together. Almost 80,000 spectators gathered in the stadium had the pleasure to watch one of the greatest talents of this young generation in women's football in flesh. She began to perform more often and regularly as center-back for the national team.

Lena Oberdorf's athletic, physically strong, which allows her to win air duels combined with her attacking mindset, these two factors give the opportunity to create a smashing connection. When in possession Lena’s first instinct is to look for opportunities to speed up the pace of the game. She can show her biggest qualities, when she is given the freedom to express herself in the offensive play. And well, the statistics speak for themselves. According to Wyscout, she averages 3 key passes per game, 27 completed progressive passes out of 30 attempts per 90 mins. When Essen regains possession, Oberdorf instantly switches her mind into the attacking mode, looking for space left to create a goal-scoring chance. Oberdorf also likes to drop deeper when in possession. She looks for space to move away from the opponent's player and find a passing option for her teammates. When she gets a pass, her first instinct is to turn and dribble forward. Oberdorf's sense of awareness on the pitch is staggering for a player at her age. You can see her, constantly checking her surroundings on the pitch. Her purpose is to find the direction she wants to take the ball once she receives the pass.

In plain words, Lena Oberdorf has the football world at her feet. Her further development can be based on her previous experience because she already has an unusual and successful career for such a young player. Oberdorf is talented enough to play in different positions on the pitch. This ability really makes her being a special player. Her defensive capabilities paired with her timing on forwarding runs make her a very important piece for any team she is a part of. She can adapt to every style of play thanks to her flexibility in playing on different positions throughout the pitch. Her versatility gives her the freedom to advance forward every time when opportunities arise. It's not easy to find another player, who would be as mature and talented as Oberdorf is at such a young age. And let the summary of this extremely promising young talent of German women's football be the words of Marina Hegering, captain of SGS Essen, who described her former teammate in such words:

"Lena is already a top performer for us at Essen at the age of 17, and that’s no ordinary achievement. But she already has personality on the pitch; she has charisma and knows how to give a good account of herself. You’ll be hearing a lot more about her."

Let's hope that we will hear much more about her in the future, because there is nothing better for every fan of women's football than watching Lena Oberdorf, who follows the path of success and climbs to the top, becoming the legend of women's football. Looking at her work ethic and winning mentality, this is a scenario that we will experience in the near future. It's sufficient to wish Lena a lot of health, she will do the rest herself. Hats off to this girl. One of the brightest players of the Germans young generation's forge of talents - Lena Oberdorf - enters the big world of football. Be ready.

A note from the author

I'm extremely happy that I can publish my articles here, but I want to leave the name of my own blog here because this is where I always publish them first:



bottom of page