PORTLAND, Ore. – When Portland Thorns FC goalkeeping coach Nadine Angerer announced her retirement last year, she spoke with PortlandThornsFC.com about her future plans.
“I'm very interested to be a goalkeeper coach,” Angerer said at the time.
If she did come back to Portland – a city that she's learned to call home – Angerer said at the time that it would most likely be as a visitor.
The former German international goalkeeper and two-time World Cup winner could not have imagined that only a little over six months after that announcement, she would return to Portland, this time as a goalkeeping coach.
But only a few months after announcing her retirement, Angerer received a phone call from her old team, asking if she would want to come back to the Thorns in a coaching role.
“Everybody knows already how much I feel at home here in Portland,” Angerer said recently after a Thorns training session. “I really love the club and the city. For me, there were really just two options: going back to Germany or to Portland.
“So I'm very happy that Portland gave me the opportunity to work here and I'm very happy to be back.”
Angerer says that she's spent the past several years preparing for this moment.
Even this past offseason, when she could have been off enjoying the rest and relaxation afforded by her retirement, Angerer was back in her native Germany studying functional athletic training.
“I think one of the biggest weak points, especially for goalkeepers in women's soccer, is they need to be more athletic; it's everything about athleticism,” Angerer said. “That's why I did some further education, especially in athletic training.”
What struck Thorns head coach Mark Parsons when he first reached out to Angerer was how much the former FIFA Women's World Player of the Year had already prepared for her imminent coaching career.
“One of the first conversations I had with her, it was clear that she's not a player turning into a coach [where] this is her first gig,” reflected Parsons. “She has been preparing for this. She's been studying. She may not have got the thousands of hours coaching because she's been playing, but she is ready to coach.”
Already, Angerer has settled right back into life in Portland and has quickly transitioned into her new role, mentoring Portland's goalkeepers from the sidelines. But Angerer also hopes to bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the goalkeeping position.
"Here [in America] it's like everything about footwork, fast footwork, and running more or less to the ball,” Angerer explained. “I think to have quick footwork is good, but you have to get set in the right moment and then I really like if goalkeepers are explosive, just one step, not running to the ball, making the whole thing easy jumping to the ball.”
Last season, Thorns goalkeeper Michelle Betos said that Angerer's goalkeeping philosophy and mentorship had already helped her improve her own game. This year, Angerer hopes to do that for the rest of the Thorns goalkeepers as well, but that will require a measured level of patience and teaching technique.
“The most important point is to explain why; explain the situation: this is how it is in the game,” Angerer said of teaching her techniques to other goalkeepers. “If someone else comes in and brings in a new technique, you have to explain why and show that you can get better in your process as a goalkeeper.”
Beyond all of her technical expertise, though, Angerer brings the same winning personality that has helped her everywhere she played in her career.
“I'm as excited for the goalkeepers to get to work with Nadine every day as I am to work with Nadine as a coach,” Parsons said. “She's special. She is very, very special.”