- Norway beat Germany 2-0 to win the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup
- Silvia Neid, pictured above, captained the losing side
- Goalscorer Hege Riise reflected on “the best moment of my career”
If the face looks familiar, it should. But if the grimace is less so, that’s easy to explain too. After all, Silvia Neid – one of the most successful figures in the history of women’s football – was rarely seen in this situation.
Of all the defeats suffered by the former Germany player and coach, this one – in the final of the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup – was among the hardest to stomach. Neid’s team had won their third European title less than three months earlier and, in the previous two continental finals, had beaten Norway by an aggregate score of 7-2.
But German dreams of a first world crown were extinguished under leaden skies in the Swedish city of Solna. Neid, who captained the losing side, still remembers it well. Speaking a couple of decades later, she offered a straightforward explanation for the defeat. “We didn’t pay attention in the first half, ended up 2-0 down, then lost,” she said.
The match was effectively decided inside three of those costly first-half minutes, during which Hege Riise and Marianne Pettersen both found the net. Riise’s strike is still remembered as one of the all-time great Women’s World Cup goals, and the player herself was crowned the tournament’s outstanding performer.
“Some moments you just can’t forget and that goal in the final is one for me,” Riise told FIFA.com in 2016. “But although we were so clearly on top (in the first half), we always knew it was Germany, who never give up, so we didn’t relax until the final whistle. Then we really had a party.
“That was the best moment of my career without any doubt,” she added. “Winning the Olympics (in Sydney in 2000) was wonderful, but the flow of the tournament wasn’t the same. That ’95 World Cup was my best experience, and the Golden Ball award is something I’m still really proud of.”
The source of Riise’s well-earned pride also extends beyond trophies, goals and individual honours to her role in the wider success story of the Women’s World Cup.
“As players, we always felt having a World Cup would be a big step for women’s football, and that’s the way it has proved,” she said. “The start of it back in 1991 was huge for women’s football, and for women’s sport in general. It was a crucial step for taking things to another level and, for me, it’s wonderful to see the tournament as it is now. I’m so glad to have played my part in its history.”
Did you know?
Among the Women’s World Cup artefacts at the FIFA World Football Museum in Zurich are a Riise shirt from that era, a winner’s medal from the 1995 edition and the first incarnation of the trophy. Norway were the last team to lift that version before a new design was introduced for USA 1999.