Powering back to the pinnacle of the game, Germany’s Giulia Gwinn’s position within the pages of SoccerBible Volumes: ‘All Power’ has been wholeheartedly earned through trials and tribulations and coming out on the other side, stronger than ever.

A year is a long time in football. On January 9, 2020, following a breakout period with Freiburg, a subsequent move to Bayern Munich and a stellar World Cup in which she picked up the tournament’s Best Young Player award, Giulia Gwinn was named Germany’s Player of the Year. In a career of constant ascendancy, she had become one of the most exciting young talents in the world. And then the bubble burst. 

It was September 2020, and just past the half hour mark in a UEFA Women's Euro qualifier against the Republic of Ireland, Gwinn ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament. Speak to any footballer and they will tell you that for all the highs, there are also lows. And this was rockbottom for Gwinn. But it was also a test of character; an opportunity to show a fortitude and resilience that had yet to really be called upon. 

Now, having been through the hell of long-term injury and come out on the other side 336 days later, there’s a fresh appreciation for the game, born of despair but reaped in the glory of a return; Gwinn has now tasted the bitter, and as such, the day-to-day life of being a professional footballer tastes all the more sweet for it.

Sure she may have been down, but she was never out, and now she’s back, stronger and more determined than ever, ready to pick up where she left off. The only question remaining? How far does she want to go.

Let’s talk about life at Bayern to begin with – what’s it like as a place to play?

It’s such an honour. It has always been my dream to play for Bayern. Before, I played for smaller clubs, and it was a huge step for me. You can feel and see the professionalism in the way they treat you. This fulfils me. 

Can you feel the size of the club as a player?

Yes, definitely. You can feel it in every single game. At FC Bayern, titles are expected – the pressure is higher. But I take it as an incentive to be able to compete with the best, at the highest level. That's why I look forward to being on the field every day and playing for FC Bayern.

You joined SC Freiburg for the 2015-16 season when you were just 16 years of age. Being so young in the game, knowing you would have a bright football future ahead, what has this been like for you and how did you cope with this at an early age? 

From the beginning it was clear that I would have to take the step away from home at some point. There was simply no club that played at this level close to me or my family. I have always pursued the dream of playing in the Bundesliga and I would do it all over again every time. It was an unbelievable experience to play for a women’s team after playing for a boys’ team all my life and playing football on a completely different level. From as soon as I joined Freiburg, I felt taken care of. They looked after me really well and I had a very nice time there.

Going professional, what was that moment like? Can you remember a time before that, wondering if this dream could or couldn’t become a reality?

It was like a dream. I only played with boys before, then it was clear to me that I wanted to switch to the women’s league. There were a lot of names you already know from the Bundesliga, who you looked up to, who you now work with daily, who you can learn from, and who you also compete against in the Bundesliga. And for me, it's still a very big honour because it's only a small circle who gets to do that. I enjoyed the time from the beginning and took everything I was able to experience with me. 

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What do you think you had about your character that has meant you pushed on and made it as a player?

I've always been a team player – I hugely enjoy playing in a team. I've also tried many other sports, and nothing has fulfilled me like football: when you're on the field with the team, helping each other and celebrating successes. The team can always rely on me. I try to help my team with assists or goals. I think that is something that characterises me

You’ve signed to 2025 – it shows the commitment to you, especially after such a long injury. Does it feel like you’re entering a new chapter in your life now?

The decision for the contract extension was not hard at all. I feel incredibly comfortable in Munich. And as I said, FC Bayern has been my dream since I was a kid. It's an honour to be trusted by the club and being part of it, even after such a long injury. And after three years in Munich I've found myself in a different role. I am now no longer one of the younger ones but have already taken on a leadership position. I want to continue with that in the next few years. And of course I'm pursuing big goals with FC Bayern.

What’s the experience been like on the whole, when you think about your development and how it’s helped shaped your personality?

As a young player, you soak up all experiences and grow into a role that gives you more self-confidence and a completely different presence on the field. When you're no longer one of the very young ones who is guided by others, but also a person with a certain aura you can pass it to others

Your injury – you were out for almost a full year. How much stronger do you feel now?

Yes, definitely. At the beginning of the injury, it was of course very difficult no longer being allowed to do what you love doing most. And my everyday life also changed completely. But it made me stronger. You don't lean on the team anymore; you really have to look out for yourself and motivate yourself every day to come back. It was a kind of challenge that you then learn to master.

Getting back onto the pitch, that must have been such an emotional moment?

Absolutely, especially because you imagine those moments 100 times during the rehab phase. I went through everything in my head. When it comes to the moment, it is simply overwhelming. In that moment, you realise all the hard work has paid off. It was worth fighting for and suddenly you're right back in the middle of the field.

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Do you live more in the moment and appreciate it all because you had such a long time out?

It often comes too short in everyday football life, that you really appreciate all this. This privilege of playing for FC Bayern, of turning our hobby into a profession every day. That’s something I learned again this year, that it’s something very valuable. When you get injured, you first have to learn how to walk again or how to ride a bike. And suddenly you're so grounded. This shows me that every day is something really special and to value football

What’s the experience been like for your family? They must be immensely proud?

The step away from home was very difficult for me. I'm such a family person and I owe a lot to my parents and my siblings. Especially in the beginning, they accompanied me to every game, to every training session, were always there and were able to experience all the moments. It's hard to give back what they've done for me. So, it’s even more beautiful that they can experience moments like a World Cup or European Championship, and maybe I can give something back, so they can see all the effort was worth it. And I think they're happiest when they see me shine and healthy on the field. It's always nice to be able to give them a hug after the game.

Where do those experiences take your mind as you look forward? What are your aspirations now?

As a football player, you always have high aims, including successes and titles. It's also important for me to stay healthy, especially after such an injury. I'm just very grateful to be back on the field. Also, I have found my role again at FC Bayern as well as the national team. There are important tournaments coming up in the next few years, and of course we'll be fighting for the title with FC Bayern every year. I want to be part of it and inspire people with my football

You’ve built a strong social following – how do you feel to be in that position now where you have a lot of eyes on you?

It’s a very, very nice feeling. It all started with the World Cup 2019. This was the door opener, and I didn't really expect it, at first it was literally overwhelming. But looking back, it's just very, very nice that so many people saw this tournament or are following my career like this and getting such appreciation and encouragement from the fans

Do you see this as an opportunity? You can speak to so many people...

If you are in the public eye and have a certain reach, you should make use of it. I know myself what it's like when you're younger. Especially for the younger girls who play football, you can be an inspiration and an idol. I always try to stay authentic and show them how my career is going and what my daily routine is like. It's nice to realise it's well received, and people like to follow it

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What about you as a person off the pitch? You come across as a creative person – is that a fair assessment?

Absolutely. As focused as I am in the game, I'm exactly the opposite in life. I want to enjoy everything, experience the many facets of life, be outdoors with friends, try different things with my family. And always with a smile on my face. That's me. I enjoy and value my profession, but also just being a young woman living in a beautiful city and getting to experience everything.

Do you think about legacy at all? Having an impact on the game as a whole? What do you want to be known for?

With football, I want to excite, be an inspiration – for young girls, for fans, for people who follow what I do every day. I want to be a part of how women's football is evolving and to take part in that process. I used to look up to players who inspired me. Today, I'm just as inspired when young girls find their way to football and enjoy it because of me.

What was women’s football like when you were a kid in Germany, does it feel like the game is progressing when it comes to support? What are the changes you still wish to see?

I think women's football has developed massively in recent years. Especially in the last three to five years, everything has become much more professional. The conditions have become much better, but also the visibility is present now. Our games are screened, we are able to play in bigger stadiums, audiences have the chance to watch it live, but also on TV. None of that was the case when I started in women's football. It's nice to be able to experience that and somehow also advertise it through our performance so that it continues to develop.

We haven't reached our goal yet. We are fighting every day to get closer and closer to the men. It's not just about pay, but also about creating fair structures in the leagues. In Germany, for example, not everyone can play football at a professional level. That's a shame, of course, because it’s distorting competition. We are further along than other countries, but we are committed to getting what we have earned. We are far from the end of our journey, and we can still realise more of this potential.

Above all, it is also about the youth and girls who want to start playing football. They should have the same opportunities as the boys. Club structures, sponsorship, etc. The girls who are starting now are our future in football.

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How important is it for you to be vocal about topics that can shape Germany’s future of football, especially for a next generation of athletes?

That is very important. We need women in football who express themselves freely and stand by their opinions. Otherwise we wouldn't be where we are now. This development can only continue if there are people who stand up for it so the next generation can also take a step forward. We are where we are now because there were women who stood up for it and raised their voices.

What role does Nike play here?

Also, a very, very big one. Nike is very supportive when it comes to female representation in football and for them being remembered, just like in men’s. And this is definitely something that will be very important in the future.

Powering back into ascendancy, Germany’s Giulia Gwinn’s position within the pages of SoccerBible Volumes: ‘All Power’ has been wholeheartedly earned through trials and tribulations and coming out on the other side, stronger than ever.

Let's talk about the national team for a moment. What does it mean to you to represent your country? What does it feel like to be called up to the squad? That must really have been such a moment of happiness back then – does that feeling wear off at some point?

I used to run around and train in the national team jersey. I was called up at the age of 18 and it was incredible to have the chance to wear the eagle on your chest and play for your country and represent it internationally. The feeling doesn't go away. Every time you get to stand on the field and hear the national anthem, it's a goosebumps moment and you try to do the best you can for your country and impress with your football.

What do you think about when you think of the euros this summer?

Since it is taking place in England, we can expect an absolute football festival. I'm really just looking forward to the fact that it's a great stage and we have the chance to draw attention to ourselves with our football in a great atmosphere. And I think this can also be an important catalyst for the future. Football is a great platform to unite people, no matter their cultural background, where they come from. Everyone has the chance to play football. Especially the European Championship, where different nations meet, good football is played and is followed by everyone in the world, bringing people together. And this is of course very, very nice.

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How do you think it’s going to feel this time around to experience a major tournament with sold out stadiums?

It's very difficult to imagine because it hasn't happened in the last few years. But the tournament comes at the right time. You know sold-out stadiums from some games, but I think every match there will be absolutely celebrated. This is what you love as a football player and makes your footballer's heart beat faster: when you can compete with the best in Europe, the people that come along, when your play is received well and you can get the people excited with it. It's not a given that women's football is offered such a big stage. We have earned and deserved this through our achievements in the past years. I am very proud of it and enjoy everything we are allowed to experience

How would you like to make your mark on such an occasion?

The primary expectation in the national team is to play for the title or to be in the running for it. That doesn't mean you have to become European champion straight away, but you have to represent Germany well. For me personally, it's important to put in the best possible performance on the field during the tournament. And to excite people with football and get them carried away.

The spotlight, moments like that, is that where you thrive? Is that what you want more of? Would a career full of moments like that be what you’re aiming for?

I am split on this. Above all, I chose football so I wouldn't be alone in the limelight, but I could share it with the team and celebrate successes together, win important matches and share every emotion. Nevertheless, it is of course nice for each individual player who delivered a good performances to be recognised for it, both in a normal match and in something as special as the European Championships.

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