Norway skipper talks emotions, ambitions and free-kick magic

  • Maren Mjelde is the captain of Norway’s women’s national team
  • The Norwegians beat the Netherlands to qualify for France 2019
  • Mjelde speaks about her hopes and bittersweet World Cup memories

“Even now, I get emotional talking about it.”

Maren Mjelde is in conversation with, and talk has turned to her wonderful free-kick at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup™. The Norway captain laughs as she admits to having tried, and failed, to replicate it countless times in the three-and-a-half years since.

But the lump in Mjelde’s throat cannot be attributed to the quality of the strike, nor its significance in a 1-1 draw with Germany. Instead, she remembers the context in which it was scored, with her mother – who was battling cancer at the time, and to whom the goal was dedicated – in the stands to see it hit the net.

Now, with her mother having won that particular battle and Norway heading to the Women’s World Cup once again, those bittersweet emotions have turned to pure joy. Mjelde has every reason to smile too, after a preliminary campaign in which her Norway side beat the Netherlands on a dramatic final day to pip the European champions to automatic qualification.

Memories of that achievement were still fresh as the Chelsea midfielder looked ahead with hope and excitement to her team’s French adventure. Maren, congratulations on making it to the Women’s World Cup. Did the way you qualified, and beating the European champions to do it, make the achievement all the more satisfying?
Maren Mjelde: Definitely. We knew from the EURO how tough the Dutch would be, and with Republic of Ireland getting better and better, it was a really tough group. The way we started too, losing 1-0 to an injury-time goal in Holland, made it extra tough. We pretty much knew that left us needing to win every game from then on in. But we adapted well to that challenge, and tried to make sure that when we came to play Holland again, it would be like a final. That’s the way it turned out and, when that match came around, everyone was ready. I don’t think the Dutch were prepared for what was coming, and the fact that we were 2-0 up inside six minutes kind of shows that! It was a great performance and probably one of the biggest and best moments of my career.