Argentina FIH Champions Trophy Interview – Natascha Keller (GER)
In recent weeks, Germany’s talismanic striker Natascha Keller has reached the remarkable milestone of playing more than 400* international matches, becoming the first ever woman to achieve such a feat. Closest to Keller’s achievement are England’s Karen Brown (355 caps) and fellow German Nadine Ernsting-Krienke (343 caps), while Australian Nikki Hudson played 303 times for the Hockeyroos. On the men’s side Dutch Teun de Nooijer has played most caps, and is currently on a staggering 445.
Natascha Keller – who at 34 is still one of the world’s most feared goal-scorers – talks to FIH.CH about her remarkable career and her desire to finish on a high at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
FIH.CH: Hi Natascha, many thanks for talking to us. So, did you ever think that one day you would have played more than 400 international matches for Germany?
Natascha Keller: “No! When I played my first international match in October 1994 (against The Netherlands) I never thought that I would still be playing at the age of 34. It is amazing that I have the chance to participate in my fifth Olympic Games after taking part in Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.”
FIH.CH: How can you motivate yourself to keep it going?
NK: “Honestly, there have been certain stages which I thought could be the end of my career. However, it is simply so much fun as I always find a new target to aim for, such as the World Cup in Rosario or the Olympic Games in London. There has always been something tempting to keep me going. I hope this mood will continue for the next few months to make London the final stage of my career. Really, after London I think that will be enough!”
FIH.CH: So, will you retire completely after the London 2012 Olympics or is there a chance that you still play club hockey?
NK: “I haven’t really thought about it. I have decided that I won’t play internationally anymore after the Olympics, but I think it is likely that I’ll still play club hockey in Germany. It’s good for my motivation to know that I’m going to retire from international hockey after the Olympics. I can focus on this knowing that everything is going to be much more relaxed afterwards. I’m looking forward to it!”
FIH.CH: What is your goal for the London Olympics?
NK: “My personal goal is to help the team and to play well in our games. After the tournament I want to be able to say I stopped at the best time. I hope that my team is developing well enough so we are able to compete with the top teams. Winning a medal would be outstanding.”
FIH.CH: What was the best game in your impressive career?
NK: “Winning the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics was the best thing I have experienced in my career. I also like to play in front of big crowds, as we see here in Argentina. Their passion for hockey is just sensational.”
Factfile: Natascha Keller
- Natascha – known as “Taschi” - made her international debut in October 1994 and was named Player of the Year by the FIH in 1999. She has also been shortlisted for the award on numerous occasions.
- Born in Berlin, she plays domestically for Berliner Hockey Club.
- Natascha became the fourth member of the Keller Dynasty to win a hockey medal in Olympic competition when Germany took the Gold medal at the 2004 Games in Athens.
- The family's list of accolades stretches back to her grandfather Erwin, who won Silver at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
- Her father Carsten won Olympic Gold at Munich 1972, her brother Andreas won Silver both in Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 before winning Gold at Barcelona 1992.
- The most recent addition to the Keller Olympic medal haul came at Beijing 2008, when Natascha's younger brother Florian helped Germany’s men claim the Gold medal.
Statistics provided by infostrada sports.
* (combined internationals. Keller has also played 36 times for Germany indoors)Back