“What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! Be some other name:
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name;
And for that name, which is no part of thee,
Take all myself.”
Thus spoke the famous words of a love-struck Juliet as she pined for her Romeo in Shakespeare’s famous play. In the Rose City, the phrase, “By Any Other Name” was adopted by supporters of Portland Thorns FC to represent the spirit of the team and the club. As Juliet points out, it’s not the name that should matter, it’s what’s inside that counts.” And so too with the Thorns.
This year, we wanted to get to know more about the team and the players and go beyond what you see on the pitch. To help us, we thought, what better way to do that than have former Ballon d’Or winner, World Cup champion goalkeeper, Germany Women’s National Team legend and Thorns FC goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer do a series of interviews with players to hear more about who they are in their words, what inspires them, and where their personal stories lead.
Just as we learn about each player’s story, we want to learn about your story. Now through July 13, 2016, Thorns FC fans have an opportunity to share their passion and love for the team by designing their own team t-shirt. The winning entry will be sold in the team store and the winner will also receive tickets and a VIP experience to the match against Seattle Reign FC on Saturday, July 30. Enter here and show us what your story is.
The latest interview is with forward Nadia Nadim. You can read the first installment with Meghan Klingenberg here.
ANGERER: Who’s Nadia Nadim?
NADIM: Nadia Nadim, that’s me.
ANGERER: True. Who are you? I don’t know you.
NADIM: Well, I’m a person who was born in Afghanistan but grew up in Denmark, so I’m like kind of mixed. I have my Afghan and Danish identities. I’m a Muslim, so I have also that part of the culture with me, but grew up in like this western culture and society. So I feel like I’m a combination of all those things; cultures, religions.
ANGERER: What kind of person are you?
NADIM: As a person I’m really, really outgoing. I’m smart. I think I’m funny most of the times. I’m optimistic but really realistic, and I’m a person who loves to learn new stuff and I love challenges and adventure. I always want to learn new stuff, try new stuff, even though I don’t know what it is but I want to try it to see.
ANGERER: What’s your current challenge?
NADIM: Right now I feel I want to be more dominant in this league. So this is where most of my energy is going with in my head. Especially when I’m practicing. I’m a person who’s never happy or content with where I am. And sometimes it’s hard because even though, okay, maybe you scored three goals but you’re like, “I missed that chance.” So I focus on that instead.
ANGERER: Are you German? [Laughs.] That’s a typical German mentality; never be satisfied.
NADIM: Maybe, yeah. But I also like that because that makes me want to do better. So that’s one of my challenges. I want to get better so I can dominate more in the games. My second challenge is to… I’m in med school too.
In Denmark, med school takes six years and then you’re a doctor, and then you start working at the hospital while you’re becoming a specialist. I’ve done 4½ years. I have a year and a half left before I’m done with med school, then I’m a doctor.
I want to work in plastic surgery areas, but that’s not what I’m focusing on right now. That’s the future. Right now I’m just doing the next semester when I go home. So I’m studying at home.
ANGERER: How do you combine soccer and med school?
NADIM: I told you I was smart.
ANGERER: It must be hard to combine with soccer.
NADIM: It’s not much fun, but if you want something, it’s just you and it’s in your head.
ANGERER: What motivates you to speak multiple languages?
NADIM: My grandpa, who passed away a couple of years ago. He always would tell me, “If you know one language, you’re one person. If you know two languages, you’re two people.” For me, it’s not only about knowing the language, but also knowing a lot about the culture. I feel like I know German and I think I know a lot of German, like how it is, how they work. And I know…
ANGERER: Have you been in Germany?
NADIM: Yeah, multiple times. One of my aunts live there in Magdeburg, and when we were young, my aunt would pick us up from Denmark and then just spend the entire summer with her to work with her. And that was our vacation every year for a couple of years. We loved it because we had never seen other places. So yeah. But my motivation is just because I had the capacity to learn and I want to learn new stuff, and it’s just easier to connect with people and makes you more than just you.
ANGERER: What was the hardest language you have learned?
NADIM: I think it’s Danish.
ANGERER: Aren’t Danish and German a little bit similar?
NADIM: Maybe some words are similar to each other but not really.
ANGERER: The grammar?
NADIM: No. No. The German grammar is hard as well but I think there’s logic to it. If you get it, it’s logic. And I am more mathematic thinking.
But the Danish one is just confusing most of the time. You know, it sometimes still confuses me. I feel like Danish is one of the hardest ones.
ANGERER: What was the easiest one?
NADIM: The easiest, probably Afghan.
ANGERER: Can you write Afghan as well?
NADIM: Yes. Afghan writing is from…
ANGERER: Right to left.
NADIM: So it’s different. I can write it but if an Afghan person reads it, it will probably remind them of someone who’s in 3rd or 4th grade. It’s not super. And I can read it too, but it’s really hard.
ANGERER: So how many total languages do you speak?
NADIM: Fluent in Danish, English, German, Urdu or Indi and then Persian or Farsi.
And French I speak a bit, but it’s not fluent. I need to spend probably a month in France before I’ll be fluent.
ANGERER: Okay. And what is the next language you will learn?
NADIM: That I will learn perfectly? That’s French. 100%. I like French a lot. I love the way they speak and everything about it. And I feel once you know French, then Spanish or Portuguese or one of those, they’re going to be so easy to learn.
So if I learn French, next I’ll be after Italian, Portuguese, Spanish. Whoa.
ANGERER: It’s always the Latin language.
NADIM: Yeah, exactly. So that’s really simple.
ANGERER: Do you like traveling?
NADIM: I love traveling. As I said, I love to learn new stuff, see the world. But I feel because of soccer and school, I really don’t have a lot of time to travel besides this soccer. So yeah, I love it. I wish I had more time to travel. To explore. But mostly it’s with the Danish national team and soccer.
ANGERER: What are your top three countries you would go to for vacation?
NADIM: First of all I want to go to Thailand. I’ve always wanted to go there. And The Maldives. And then Hawaii or Bora Bora. One of those places. I want to go to the beach, like relaxing places. So yeah, that’s one of the places. And Egypt, I want to go to because of the pyramids, but I also feel that’s a little cliché right now.
ANGERER: If someone offered you an apartment in Los Angeles for free, or a big house in Norway? What would you choose?
NADIM: Los Angeles, 100%. My dream or my goal is to live somewhere close to the beach and somewhere where it’s warm. So I’m not going to live in Scandinavia.
ANGERER: [Laughs.] Even if you are from Scandinavia?
NADIM: Yes. I will not stay there. I mean, I love Scandinavia in summers, but that’s like one week. Okay, maybe two weeks, if you’re lucky.
ANGERER: Cool. What is your first impression of the Thorns and the fans and the stadium and the good looking goalkeeper coach?
NADIM: Which ‘keeper coach? Oh, there she is. [Laughs.]
I remember last season when I played here when I was with Sky Blue FC. I’ve played a lot of games with the Danish national team, I’ve seen a lot of crowds, but this was the first time I really got goose bumps. Even though they were not cheering for me, they were against me, I was like, “Oh my god, this is freaking sick.” I was like, “This is unbelievable.” And then since then I wanted to play here.
Just being a part of this club, it’s been crazy. It’s hard to describe but I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere else. I think maybe as a male athlete or a male soccer player you experience this in other places, but as a female, you don’t. This is unique. The way everything is, how professional the club is, and obviously the fans.
ANGERER: Before coming here, I had never had goose bumps, never ever. Never when I was with the German national team. When I was here for my first game against Kansas City, like two years ago, and I’m like, “Yeah, this is the national anthem and is a part of the game.” But the crowd was so loud. And I was like, “What the hell?” I got goose bumps for first time in my life and I had had 150 caps for the national team and now I got goose bumps. Like, “Oh my goodness, what’s going on with me?”
NADIM: I know. It’s just because the fans are so into it. I mean, I’ve seen fans, although there are 10,000 fans in a small stadium but they were like [claps lightly]. It’s not like crazy fans. I love that – the passion.
ANGERER: And they live it here.
Now comes a tricky question. Would you prefer to win a title with Portland Thorns FC or take part with the Danish national team at the World Cup?
NADIM: Oh, that’s a hard one.
ANGERER: Yeah, I know.
NADIM: I want to do both. What about both? Do I have to choose?
ANGERER: No, you don’t have to choose.
NADIM: I want to do both. I don’t think they’re unrealistic.
ANGERER: No, they are not.
NADIM: I know, it’s not. As I said, I’m an optimist and a realist. And I feel in the position that we are here in Portland and with the team we have, we have a chance to be a contender for the championship. So both would be optimal.
ANGERER: I had another good question. What does soccer, football give to you? Not only on the pitch but in general; locker room, the team spirit, everything?
NADIM: I love the game. I always felt like this is…not therapy but like, no matter how bad a day I’ve had, no matter how stressed I am, if my grandpa died, whatever, as soon as I see a ball everything else disappears. It’s always been like that since I was a kid. I could have the worst day ever and I see a ball and it just gets better. I don’t even have to have people around me. I just can have a ball and a wall. It just makes me happy. Especially if you’re winning it makes you double happy. And obviously you get a lot of friends and you play and see stuff. That’s all bonus.
But for me it’s always been the game, because it makes me happy. I don’t care about anything else. I want to have fun. And mostly when I have fun, I play the best, when I’m happy. Does that make sense?
ANGERER: Yeah. I understand what you mean, totally. It’s like kind of a medicine as well.
NADIM: Yes. I can do anything else; go to the gym, swim, but I still feel like it’s missing something. I started playing on the street with kids. It’s never been like, “Oh, you have to train like this, and you have to do this with the ball.” It’s always been for fun. That’s how I always learn my stuff, like a game. I want to keep it that way, and I think it should be that way for all kids. The love for the game. It shouldn’t be like your dad’s telling you, “That’s a wrong pass.” That’s not how you learn.
ANGERER: Exactly. Fun should be the first point.
NADIM: First point. But then your love for the game makes you improve.
ANGERER: And gives you the passion.
NADIM: Passion to go, “Oh, I want to do better because it’s more fun if I could do this and do that.”
ANGERER: What’s your—in a funny way—your deepest secret?
NADIM: My deepest secret. I have to think about it. That’s a good one. I know I have one but I’m not going to tell that. I’m going maintain a secret.
ANGERER: Say it.
You have time.
NADIM: That’s a hard one.
What do you mean by secret?
ANGERER: It’s like something you… For example, Lindsey Horan said yesterday about Emily Sonnett that she is fantastic dancer and no one knows it.
NADIM: She is. Incredible.
I don’t know if it’s like a deep secret, but as a kid I played the recorder.
NADIM: Yeah. We obviously came to Denmark when I was 12. I think I was like 12 or 13 when I was playing that. And we used to do Christmas concerts.
ANGERER: Can you still play it?
NADIM: No way. But I was really good at it. I knew the notes and stuff.
ANGERER: The recorder. So funny.
NADIM: Yeah. I know. Who would believe that?
ANGERER: What would you like for teammate to say about you? Why are you a good teammate? What would you like them to answer?
NADIM: I hope they would say that I am a positive person and I have this energy around me that makes people happy—which I think I have. And I hope that they see me as a good player, someone who will make a difference on the pitch.