PORTLAND, Ore. — Since 2009, Portland Thorns FC forward Nadia Nadim has been a staple of the Denmark Women’s National Team. She’s played in 73 international matches, scoring 21 goals and has made three trips to the UEFA Women’s European Championships. However, her experience in the 2017 Women’s EUROs, in which she helped lead the Danes to a second place finish—the highest mark they’ve ever achieved—has been especially meaningful, personally, as well as for women’s football and the country of Denmark.
Nadim was especially proud of Denmark’s quarterfinal upset of Germany, the eight-time winner and defending EURO champions.
“I don't think a lot of people were expecting it,” she said. “Just coming into that game, being the underdogs and playing such a great nation was awesome and so motivating to be there.”
Throughout the competition, Danish fans turned out in droves to support their side, and after the conclusion of the tournament, the players returned home to what Nadia characterized as an “insane” reception.
Thousands of fans dressed in Danish colors convened in Copenhagen’s Town Hall Square, where they greeted and celebrated their silver medalists. The team spent time taking pictures and signing autographs for fans throughout the day.
“The crowd gathered there was amazing. The media coverage of this tournament has been insane,” she said. “There were big screens everywhere, in the big city where people could be outside and watch the games. I’ve never experienced that in women’s football.”
Nadim was amazed to find that the team’s performance had had such an impact on fans at home.
“It was only two days [I had been] home and just walking around, people were like ‘Hey Nadia!’” she said. “Everyone knew who you were suddenly.”
Even Prince Frederik of Denmark and Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen were among the many who wanted to greet Nadim. Both made a point to meet her on the field after the championship game.
“Oh, that was sick,” noted Nadim of meeting the prince and prime minister. “I was obviously [feeling] really low—I love our royal family—and [Prince Frederik] came, and he hugged me and was like, ‘Well played Nadim.’
“I was like, ‘Oh he knows me!’ and the Prime Minister obviously too. So, I was really sad and disappointed [about the loss] but getting a hug from the prince…I was like, ‘Hmm, It’s okay. It’s a decent day. Call me!’ Just kidding,” she laughed.
While this year’s experience of the tournament has been memorable, Nadim speaks most passionately about how the 2017 EUROs have impacted women’s football in Denmark.
“Before the tournament, we were obviously fighting to get respected and acknowledged. We were far away from having equality as the men’s team does,” she said.
Nadim sees parallels between the present growth of women’s football and the explosion of Danish handball 10-20 years ago.
“Coming back and being received the way we were, I think told us that we got closer to our goal, which is acknowledgement from everyone,” she said. “I think we showed a lot of people who were just unaware before, about women's football, what we can do and who we are.
“The youngsters that are going to come up, I think we laid the road for them, and I think we needed that for women’s football.”