top of page

Pernille Harder - a born leader

27 year old Danish professional footballer.  She plays for Vfl Wolfsburg and Denmark women's national football team.

Pernille Harder started playing football at the age of 5 for the club called Tulstrup - Faurholt IK . She played there from 1997 to 2005. After that she joined FC Ikast where she spent 2 years. In 2007 she moved to Team Viborg and played there for 3 years. She continued her senior career in IK Skovbakken in Elitedivisionen ( the highest- level league for women's football clubs in Denmark). She appeared in 27 games and scored 22 goals for IK Skovbakken. She signed for Linköpings in June 2012. Pernille Harder chose Swedish club for two reasons. First of all, she wanted a new challenge, secondly she didn't want to leave Scandinavia, she wanted to stay here. As a young player, she developed from season to season at Linköpings. In the 2015 Damallsvenskan (is the highest division of women's football in Sweden) season she scored 17 goals in 22 games for her team. She has also won Forward of the Year award and League Player of the Year award. At the annual awards gala she was described as "world class" and "hyper - talented" player. I think we can't argue with that, she really is a world class player. Pernille Harder was fantastic in the Swedish league and it didn't go unnoticed. She was voted Danish Football Player of the Year in 2015. Awards and successes didn't make her loosen up. Quite the opposite, she proved that she was a world-class player. Even more successes came in the 2016 Damallsvenskan season. Pernille received the League Player of the Year award. Her 23 league goals lead her to the Top Goalscorer award and her team won the championship title. It's not surprising that clubs from the world top of women's football began to be interested in her. Harder was an accomplished and quite experienced footballer before she moved to Germany. She scored 85 goals in 109 matches in all competitions during her five seasons in Sweden. In December 2016 she announced that she had signed a contract with Vfl Wolfsburg. In Wolfsburg she proved that her successes from Sweden weren't a coincidence, it was a combination of hard work and unquestionable talent. She won Bundesliga 3 times in a row with Vfl Wolfsburg in the seasons: 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19. Also in each of these seasons she triumphed in DFB Pokal. One of the things that is missing in the already substantial collection of her titles is winning the UEFA Women's Champions League. Closest to this title, Pernille was in the 17/18 season when Vfl Wolfsburg reached the final where they lost after a very exciting match against Olympique Lyonnais (Pernille scored a goal). Vfl Wolfsburg finished as a runners-up. On 14th of February 2020, exactly three years and two days after her first appearance for the club, Pernille Harder played her 100th competitive game for Vfl Wolfsburg. It was the time to celebrate this special day. Although it could be said that for her this day was like any other day. She woke up in the morning, she arrived at the stadium, played a match and scored two goals. A routine. We just have to agree that her statistics are simply impressive. So far, for three seasons in Wolfsburg, she has played 100 games in which she has scored 93 goals.

Pernille in Vfl Wolfsburg, 2017

Speaking about international career

Pernille Harder's journey with the national team began in 2007. Of course, it started with youth teams. She was a part of the Denmark team who played at the inaugural 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand. In October 2009, she scored a hat-trick in her senior international debut. Denmark won 15:0 over Georgia. Pernille was only 16 years old that time. Pernille began scoring regularly for her national team. She scored a hattrick in two qualifying matches for UEFA Women's Euro 2013, against Austria and Armenia. Later she also added a hattrick in a friendly match against Russia. With 9 goals in her account she became the team's top goalscorer in these qualifying matches. Her goals helped Denmark qualify for the tournament. She began to grow into the key figure of her team, which didn't go unnoticed, she was called up to the Danish team at UEFA Women's Euro 2013. In this tournament, Denmark went all the way to the semi-final, where they lost after penalties against Norway. On 26th of October 2013 Pernille made her 50th appearance for the national team. Denmark played the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup qualifying match against Serbia. In March 2016, Harder was named as a captain of the national team. In 2017, Pernille Harder was named in Denmark squad for the UEFA Women's Euro 2017. Pernille captained the team to the final. In the final against hosts, the Netherlands, she showed off her skills, her solo rally on the right wing ended with a precise shot, giving Denmark the equalizer. The final eventually ended with Netherlands victory, but in this tournament Harder proved and showed many people that she is a player from the world top. After the Euro's she admitted that this tournament was a great experience and that they did a lot for football in Denmark. She said:

"It was incredible to see the difference in Denmark before we went and when we came back. Before they knew about us but when we came home the whole of Denmark knew about us and respected us. It was not like ‘Oh, women play football, it became cool for a little girl to play football and that’s important.”

Pernille celebrating her equalizer in Euro 2017 Final

Pernille Harder definitely is a versatile player. She has an incredible vision of the game and passing ability. One of her biggest advantages is her positioning and movement between the lines. You can't miss it watching her games. She has that impressive ability to find space and utilize it efficiently. Pernille often drops deep from her original position to get more and more involved in Wolfsburg’s build-up play. Even though she has an opponent's player nearby her, she looks like it doesn't bother her at all, she frees herself from her opponent's pressing with surprising ease. Her movement on the pitch is well thought out. What impress me the most about Pernille is her pitch intelligence. What I mean by "pitch intelligence"? Well, I've seen a lot of Pernille's games. On the pitch, she's always watching the match unfold. She's constantly looking over her shoulder and forward again, locating the space and adapting her positioning. Constantly moving and adapting to the game. This is not often noticed, but these are the details that make her one of the best. She's a virtuoso and the focal point for both club and country. Pernille is one of those players who makes this game look simple. We can definitely call her one of the most complete women’s footballer in the world. She is a very strong player, physically well-built, hence she can shield the ball well. On the pitch, it is quite visible that she is also a very hard-working player. She's working hard for the team, especially on winning back possession. Off the ball, Harder sometimes press low-block teams trying to catch them off guard. She can be found anywhere from left-wing to central midfield looking to find chance to create a goal-scoring opportunity. What makes her even more special? Her attacking abilities. Her ability to find and use space to attack. She is a creative and intelligent striker who relies on great positioning, passing and extraordinary instinct in scoring goals. She is capable of playing in multiple different positions, Pernille can easily play as a number '9 or '10'. Being able to play in different positions gives her an advantage and makes her priceless for the team. Harder is excellent ball-player, but her off the ball intelligence is equally impressive. Being a versatile player makes her an asset for the team and whether she plays as a number ‘9’ or ‘10’, Harder looks to drop into a deeper position to find space to affect play. She's often the main link between midfield and attack even though her primary position is that of a striker. Her attributes are link-up play and technical skills. Playing similar to a false nine, Harder drops into midfield to collect possession and turn to pass through the defence to her teammates. She can play as a midfielder, she can play as a forward. Regardless of where she is on the pitch, Pernille is always a big threat to opponents. She is distinguished by extraordinary freedom in dribbling, it looks like she is dancing with the ball at her foot among opponents. Her style of play mesmerizes. It draws you in. Pernille Harder is a priceless player for both Vfl Wolfsburg and Denmark. Thanks to her versatility, she gives her team so many options in attack. When it comes to finishing, when she has to face the goalkeeper, she is very calm, she does it with cold blood and precision. Harder also impresses with a sense of awareness on the pitch and quick-thinking in making decisions. She gets the ball and knows what she wants to do with it, whether to start a 1 in 1 duel, getting into dribbling, or to pass the ball on the wing or to play on one contact with a teammate. She's also very good in one-two passing during counter-attacks. Pernille knows perfectly when to change the pace of the game. Sometimes you would like to compare her to a conductor. She conducts and the team follows her.

Pernille Harder grew up in Ikast, a town with a population of just 15,000 people. The road to success, the road to professional football had to be a bit difficult for her. But she herself admits that when she was a young girl, she had the feeling that she has some talent. She felt it from an early age:

"I don't know how old I was but I felt quite early I was maybe a little bit better than the other girls in my team. I wrote something at school when you were asked about what you want to do in life. I think I was maybe 10 and I wrote I wanted to be a professional footballer in Germany and play for Denmark. "

And see where she is now. As a young girl she was aware of her talent, as a young girl she had a dream and this dream combined with hard work led her to where she is now. I don't want to repeat myself, but I think we know what I'm talking about. These factor led her to the global top of women's football. This is a beautiful example, Pernille Harder has proved that it is worth having dreams and following them. In one of the interviews given to british newspaper, The Guardian, in 2018, she herself admitted: "I always dreamed of being one of the biggest players." In the same year, she was voted the best player in an annual global ranking: The 100 Best Female Footballers In The World 2018. Harder was named UEFA’s Player of the Year for 2018 after another stellar. And what has influenced her success is also her character. This character is perfectly visible on the pitch. She is always determined, she always fights and you can see that football gives her great joy. What can be read from her face and body posture is her confidence. Confidence and constant hunger for victory. Pernille Harder is an experienced player and certainly a very successful player. She is a recognizable figure in the world of women's football. But that didn't change her as a person, as she says:

“I’m down to earth. I love to be with my family and friends. I like to have fun, laugh a lot and do crazy stuff sometimes but I’m really down to earth. That’s the way my family have brought me up.”

Harder’s talent and reputation have made her a role model for young girls growing up all around the world. And she said multiply times that it is very important to her:

“I enjoy it. It’s such a good thing we can idols for girls and boys. It doesn’t have to be Messi or the idols I had. They were men’s players but now we can be idols too and that’s really cool.”

An ispiration for the younger generation

Pernille Harder is an undoubted football role model for young girls. But not only on the pitch. Also off the pitch. In my opinion, it is very important in today's world for kids and young people to have people who are their authorities, who through their actions encourage others to do something good for the benefit of people and the world. Pernille Harder is involved in efforts to level out social inequalities and fight against discrimination in football. In 2019 Harder decided to donate 1% of their annual salary to Play Proud, which is an initiative that helps coaches and mentors to establish safe spaces and guides LGBTQ+ adolescents to participate in sports at the youth-level with confidence. The enormity of team and individual achievements could have changed her, make her looking at other people with superiority. But it didn't happen. Pernille Harder keeps both feet on the ground, she definitely is down-to-earth. Pernille is a world football star. But in all this fame, she still remains herself, she is authentic. She always finds time for fans for a photo or to give an autograph - she's so human and modest. A born leader.

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