The question is not yet complete or Sherida Spits has already come up with the answer. “No,” said the football star firmly. She did not feel any difference than she did sixteen years ago when she was only 16 years old. “On the contrary, I still actually feel like I’m getting fitter.”
Well, she must be doing a warm up these days, she’ll admit it. But for the rest, she actually doesn’t even notice that she’s 32 years old. The midfielder also did not want to know about an extra day off. “Maybe sometimes it’s fine, but it’s just not in my system. I always want to finish.”
That’s how she always did and that’s how she got 199 caps. Tonight she will play in 200th place when she plays England with the Netherlands, the first training match in the run-up to the European Championship in July.
Spit is not the woman who patted her chest. She thinks she is “special” and can be very proud of her, but at the same time she always shares her teammates, especially those from the past. “This generation has put a lot into women’s football and we needed that to get to where we are now, to be successful. That’s a beautiful thing, we can all be proud of.
For the first time in 2006
Her debut was in 2006, also in and against England. Her career path shows how professional women’s football has been since then. Since last year, she has been playing for Ajax, which did not even have a women’s branch in 2006, which was founded only in 2012. She played two spells at Twente, the record champion in Dutch women’s football, whose trip to Norway twice. In 2013, Lilleström SK paid a transfer fee, the first for a Dutch football star. When she played her first international match seven years ago, she was still in B1 from VV Sneek.
“It was a tough match,” she remembers her beginning. “I didn’t think I was nervous, but on the court I noticed I was nervous. I was also 16 and then played your debut in a very full court.
There were nearly eight thousand spectators in the stands at Charlton, who witnessed England’s 4-0 victory. Spitse was substituted in the 55th minute. I threw on the black, but I thought that was nice. I had to show it, it wouldn’t come to you.
Five years ago, Holland met England in front of 30,000 fans in Enschede in the semi-finals of the European Championship they won. Then she described the match as a “real” final. England were the favorites, but the Netherlands won 3-0. Partly thanks to Spitse, who took two balls off the goal line.
In the European Championship, the pressure is back on England, with the Football Association investing a lot in women’s football. The FA has chosen its successful coach Sarina Wegmann away from the Netherlands to win the title in her country. The match against the Netherlands is the first indication of the teams’ performance.
“But you can’t say much about it now,” says the world record holder. It can go well beforehand and not during the tournament, but you can also take off. And we’ve shown that we really are a championship team.
With 200 caps, Spits climbed to 25th on the international women’s most capped list. For comparison: Wesley Schneider is the Netherlands international record holder with 134 appearances (95th international joint). Women are likely to have slightly higher numbers than men, because they play fewer matches for their clubs and more international matches and tournaments (practice). The record is held by Kristen Lilly with 354 appearances for the United States.
It would be tough for Spitz to hit that number, but she’s far from contemplating stopping. She is in talks about extending her contract. “Ajax is my team and I really want to be a champion. That’s why I came to the clubs and I haven’t succeeded there yet.
If it was up to her, she would sign up right away for several years. She has managed to make football her job. And it remains special, especially for someone who grew up at a time when that was an unattainable dream for a woman. “This is the best thing they can do.”
The 2014 Paris Olympics looms and Spits has barely missed an international match in sixteen years, but was forced to withdraw due to injury for the Games in Tokyo. “It would be great if that happened again,” she says. “Age is an age, it’s a number. It’s how fit I still feel and how much I love it. You don’t know, but maybe I could go on for another six years.”
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