Dzsenifer Marozsán interview: Turn up for number ten – Germany’s smooth orchestrator and the sounds to stop the show
When it comes to the creative elite of the women’s game, Germany’s Dzsenifer Marozsán is always likely to be in the conversation, and as well as fuelling her inspiration, music takes the 1.FFC Frankfurt attacking midfielder back to facing the spotlight in a way she is somewhat less renowned for.
Golden Ball winner at the 2012 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, the senior honours have started to stack up for Dzsenifer for club and country in recent years. The German international went all the way with the national team at the European Championship in 2013, while clinching the UEFA Champions League last May with Frankfurt marked the realisation of another dream achievement for the 23-year-old.
The Budapest-born playmaker is held in extremely high esteem around the game and thought of by so many as one of the very best there is in her attacking midfield role. Aside from the majestic ability, people are hugely fond of the personality she shows, and as her fans are by now more than aware of, she is never shy of sharing songs that resonate with her.
Music brings considerable enjoyment and emotional connection for ‘Dzseni’, although it also had a hand in one of her less comfortable experiences at Frankfurt. She explained as she was asked about the singing initiation that can bring players more uneasiness than any debut or crucial penalty kick they’ll ever face!
“I have been lucky throughout my career. I think my teammates know why I did not have to sing when I joined Frankfurt, but I remember that I had to sing during a training session when we lost a four-against-four game.
“It was (former head coach) Colin Bell’s idea. Colin also organised karaoke events during our training camps; I forgot what I have sung there but we always had much fun!”
Colin Bell was the man at the helm as Frankfurt secured that record fourth European title in 2014/15 with a dramatic 2-1 win over Paris Saint-Germain in Berlin. The Englishman, who surprisingly opted to leave the seven-time German champions in December for Norwegian runners-up Avaldsnes IL, was an in-depth interview subject on here recently and is a character who captures the site’s music/football concept perfectly.
Dzsenifer also has a rhythmic element to her and has in the past thrown some dance moves into her celebration after scoring. Sharing some of her playlist selections like Tove Lo, Ed Sheeran and Jeremih with her online fans, the number ten’s favourite singer from her native Hungary is the male artist Caramel.
With her father, János, a former international midfielder and her brother also once a significant prospect, the footballing influences to look up to for young ‘Maro’ were of a particular calibre. However, if you were to rewind the track back to those mid-90s days you would also find music enjoying more than a little role of its own in her early life.
“My first album was ‘Top Charts 96’ – you see I already had a passion for music when I was a child. Now I like chart music as well as r&b and some slower songs, but I have no favourite band, artist or genre.
“I like covered songs from more unknown artists, but most of the songs in my playlist are chart songs.”
On her way to becoming a champion at Euro 2013, Dzsenifer showed her star quality on the big occasion as her neat finish in the semi-final eliminated hosts Sweden in Gothenburg. That was her first major silverware as a full international and last summer she headed into the World Cup in Canada as one of the hotly-tipped players to watch.
The competition came a matter of weeks after her Champions League euphoria with Frankfurt and Sweden were on the receiving end of her finishing prowess once more as she looped a sliding effort into the far corner to cap a 4-1 last-16 victory. Perhaps surprisingly, the semis were as far as the pre-tournament favourites were able to go, with a 2-0 defeat to winners USA ending their run before a narrow extra-time loss in the bronze medal game to England.
An ankle problem had disrupted Dzsenifer in Canada and a subsequent surgery would keep her out of action for three months. It meant Frankfurt had to do without her in the early stages of the season while already dealing with the loss of key talents in retired striker Célia Šašić and departed midfielder Vero Boquete from their triumphant side on that night in Berlin against PSG.
In less than a year, there have been plenty of changes for Frankfurt but Dzsenifer has been back in recent times to light up games. Her double at Turbine Potsdam in February included a stunning 90th-minute goal to snatch a 4-3 win as she evaded challenges to rifle home with her left foot from outside the box.
In Colin Bell’s interview, he told how two of his internationals – one German and one Swiss – were keeping it consistent in the dressing room with their playlist offerings. Now with a little more time passed, are those two still the players who set the pre-game scene with their track choices, or have Dzsenifer’s other teammates stepped in?
“You are informed very well! Our DJs are Simone (Laudehr) and Ana (Crnogorčević), but sometimes I put on some music, too.
“I prefer old school but mostly we hear chart songs.”
Named in third place in last year’s UEFA Best Women’s Player award behind France midfielder Amandine Henry in second and Célia Šašić in first, Dzsenifer went up on stage at the ceremony in Monaco wearing a protective boot for her aforementioned ankle injury. Being able to produce against the leading nations is the mark of a player in the true upper echelons of their profession and the U.S. saw that firsthand from a 20-year-old Dzsenifer in 2012.
Her superb left-footer past Hope Solo was her second in the 2-2 draw in East Hartford after she’d earlier shown terrific composure to capitalise on a rare Christie Rampone slip to run through and finish. The world champions are currently one of Germany’s opponents in the inaugural SheBelieves Cup in the States, along with France and England.
Dzsenifer describes how a PSG striker in their ranks is not just chief goalgetter for Silvia Neid’s team but also the dressing room pace-setter. The best of the moves are, however, saved only for when it’s gone right on the field, which luckily for the Germans is fairly frequently!
“In the national team, Anja Mittag is our DJ. She plays everything – different genres, different artists.
“Who dances the most? We only dance in the changing room after a victory, and we do not have any dancing specialists.”
Joining Frankfurt at just 17, Dzsenifer had made history at her previous club 1.FC Saarbrücken, becoming both the youngest debutant (14 years, seven months) and youngest goalscorer (15 years, four months) in the Frauen-Bundesliga. She had been a German Cup runner-up the day after she turned 16 in April 2008 as they lost 5-1 to Frankfurt in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium, with 2014 FIFA World Player of the Year, Nadine Keßler alongside her for Saarbrücken as she took on future teammates like Ali Krieger, Kerstin Garefrekes and legendary forwards Birgit Prinz and Conny Pohlers.
Silverware was of course in the offing for Dzsenifer, coming on two occasions in the domestic cup, in 2011 and 2014. In the latter of those finals, a close friend of hers, midfielder Fatmire ‘Lira’ Alushi, played alongside her and the 27-year-old was also one of numerous Germans in PSG’s squad for the 2015 Champions League final.
Third in the 2010 World Player of the Year voting, she is a player Dzsenifer has admired in her position for some time, getting to learn from her as a long-time club and national team colleague. Dzsenifer acknowledges the risk she likes to take in her game; it’s delicate and can potentially backfire, but magic and memories come from it when executed correctly.
She also enjoys having the opportunity of seeing creative performers at work in the music arena, and there are more than a few on her wishlist for the future.
“I was twice at a Drake concert and I love his songs. There are a few artists who I would like to see live: Adele, Rihanna, Usher, The Weeknd, Miguel, Xavier Naidoo, and I could name a lot more.”
In 2008, Dzsenifer was the leading scorer at the inaugural UEFA Women’s Under-17 Championship in Switzerland, netting in the final as Germany beat France. Her reputation rose further that year when she top-scored again at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, helping her team to third place in New Zealand as well as winning the tournament’s Silver Ball.
With Germany hosting the Under-20 World Cup in 2010 she was part of the group who lifted the trophy and her full international debut was just a couple of months away, against Australia while she was still 18. Named the 2012 Under-20 World Cup’s standout player despite Germany’s final loss to the USA, Dzsenifer transferred her winning tournament experiences as a youth to the senior setup at her breakthrough competition, Euro 2013.
Germany’s number 14 from that squad happened to be Dzsenifer’s number one to come to mind when she was asked about singing teammates from her career so far who’ve remained in her memory, one way or another!
“For good reasons, I can mention my teammate Isabelle Linden; she is a very good singer when she wants. I also have a person for bad reasons in my mind, but sorry, I cannot mention the name!
“What I can say is that we played a long time together for Frankfurt. Together we often got on our teammates’ nerves with our ‘golden voices’!”
At the end of 2014, Germany and VfL Wolfsburg midfielder Lena Goeßling was on here to talk music and more, followed a few months later by compatriot Célia Šašić. The news of Šašić’s retirement at 27 after winning the Golden Boot at last year’s World Cup came as a shock to many and Dzsenifer has spoken in recent months about the void her former teammate has left, as a player and person.
The former striker is someone she remembers singing and dancing for fun at the back of the team bus on numerous occasions, but what if Dzsenifer needed to step up and record a song for real? Given her choice of career teammates to join her on this cover version, she went for an important member of Maren Meinert’s 2014 Under-20 World Cup-winning side, with a conscious r&b track the one she’d rework with the defender.
“I would sing ‘Candles in the Sun’ from Miguel together with Margarita Gidion from SGS Essen.”
Missing the opening win over Côte d’Ivoire, Dzsenifer was back to start Germany’s draw with Norway and win over Thailand in their World Cup group. After her aforementioned goal against Sweden in the knockout phase she came on for Anja Mittag at half-time in the tantalising quarter-final with France.
With six minutes of the tie remaining in Montréal, Célia Šašić forced extra-time with her successful spot kick and the game went the distance. Dzsenifer was a scorer in the shootout before penalty-saving expert Nadine Angerer came up big again to deny Claire Lavogez and send Germany into the semi-final with the USA.
Playing once again at the Olympic Stadium, over 51,000 were in attendance for a clash which ultimately went the way of the Americans by two goals to nil, with Dzsenifer coming on in the second half once again for Mittag. Still hampered by her ankle issue at the time, she sat out the third-place decider with England, although she had appeared against Mark Sampson’s team in the 3-0 win at Wembley in November 2014, as well as in the goalless draw in Duisburg four months ago.
Speaking here in the lead-up to the two teams’ meeting in the SheBelieves Cup in Nashville this month – which she started as Germany won 2-1 – she offered some praise for the strides the Lionesses have taken in a relatively short space of time.
“I did not play so often against England; more often in youth times. What I can say is that the team has developed very well, as we could see at the World Cup in Canada.”
Having missed out on the 2012 London Olympics, Germany will be at the Games in Rio this August as they bid to win the tournament for the first time. Domestically, Dzsenifer is part of a 2nd-placed Frankfurt team aiming to overcome Frauen-Bundesliga champions FC Bayern Munich’s current ten-point lead.
Teammate Mandy Islacker leads the league with 11 goals, while Dzsenifer is also among the top scorers, with seven strikes to her name. The team is now playing under Matt Ross, who was an assistant to Colin Bell amongst his roles since he first joined the club, and they return to continental action with their Champions League quarter-final tie against Brescia later this month.
This year’s schedule is as packed as ever for Dzsenifer, but when the opportunity does allow for her to step aside from it all, how does one of the world’s most revered young talents like to unwind?
“I try to spend a lot of time with my family, with friends and my dog. Besides that, I like shopping and playing with my PlayStation.”
One of Dzsenifer’s favourite video games is FIFA and the latest edition of course features a selection of women’s international teams for the first time, with Dszeni one of the highest-rated players in the game. Although it may seem a mere step to some, many realised just how significant a development it was to finally have women’s football incorporated into a game played by such colossal numbers worldwide.
That was perhaps one of the things that seemed just a fantasy when Dzsenifer was growing up, but as her arm tattoo of the Champions League stars and the date of Frankfurt’s victory shows, such wishes can become reality. In 2012, she was a beaten finalist in that competition against Lyon and if she could go back to the beginning of her football journey and offer her younger self some advice she would have the thought in her mind of embracing the testing moments as much as possible.
“I got to know a lot of wonderful people during the last few years; people who are very important for me today. I also learned that bad times – I am thinking of injuries and defeats – are part of the business and part of life.
“I always came out stronger, not least due to my family that supports me and helps me in every part of my life. Whatever happens, you should pursue a realistic goal and never give up.
“That is my advice to the young Dzsenifer.”
Injury might have ended the playing prospects of her older brother but he was every bit a role model for Dzsenifer, who also had her father’s knowledge of being a professional to benefit from. In eleven-a-side, it is fair to say she has showed more than a touch of ability through the years, and with her close control and technique she wouldn’t be likely to struggle in five-a-side either.
For each interview on here, the conversation concludes by picturing that small-sided scenario. The player is asked to highlight just some of the teammates from their career and to pick four they would have alongside them in a game of this type.
One of the most exciting performers to watch at the top level, Dzsenifer also makes sure that although her team here would be just a little bit open at the back, they would lack nothing in attacking capability, and most importantly, entertainment.
“I select Simone Laudehr, Ana-Maria Crnogorčević, Lira Alushi and Anja Mittag – we do not need a goalkeeper! All the four are great players and I get along very well with them; they are like a family for me.
“We experienced a lot together, made jokes, had fun and we cried together, and I am sure we would rock this small-sided game.”
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