Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Babe of the Month - Danish Ladies Footballer Pernille Harder

Pernille Mosegaard Harder was born 15th November 1992 in Ikast, Denmark and is a Danish professional footballer who plays as a striker for VfL Wolfsburg as well as for the Danish national team.

Pernille started playing football when she was five or years old with the boys in her birth city of Ikast. Her Mum and Dad and sister both played so they sent her to play soccer and she really loved it. Pernille says that "they didn't have a girls team until she was 11 years old, but I played and practised with boys in high school and that was a really important part of my development."

Pernille has always been a Manchester United fan, and says that David Beckham was her footballing inspiration.

Harder played for Team Viborg between 2007 and 2010 and then for IK Skovbakken from 2010 in her country's Elitedivisionen, before signing for Linköpings in June 2012.

She made her international debut aged 16 in 2009, scoring a hat-trick in Denmark's 15-0 win over Georgia.

Harder chose Linköpings, another Swedish club for her next destination because she wanted a new challenge, but also because she wanted to remain in Scandinavia. In September 2013 she scored all four goals in Linköpings' 4–1 win at relegation-bound Sunnanå SK.

In the 2015 Damallsvenskan season Harder scored 17 goals in 22 appearances for Linköping, winning a series of national awards including Årets Anfallare (English: Forward of the Year) and Årets Allsvenska Spelare (English: League Player of the Year). At the annual awards gala she shared the stage with male winner Zlatan Ibrahimović (below) and was described as "hyper-talented" and "world class" by Swedish national coach Pia Sundhage. Harder was also voted Danish Football Player of the Year in 2015.

Harder enjoyed further success in the 2016 Damallsvenskan season, retaining the League Player of the Year award and helping Linköping win the Damallsvenskan title.

By now a transfer target for the biggest clubs in women's football, it would have been easy for Harder to stay in Sweden. She had scored 70 goals in 87 appearances for Linköpings, twice winning the Swedish cup and winning the league in 2016 as top scorer with 24 goals in 22 games.


However Harder's agent announced in November 2016 that she would be leaving Linköping for a new challenge. In December 2016, it was announced that Harder had signed a two-and-a-half-year contract with VfL Wolfsburg running from January 2017.

The lure of the Bundesliga was too strong. Pernille said: “I always wanted to go to Germany one day. I guess it’s because the German league is the strongest league in Europe and possibly the world. All the games are hard. We’re one of the best teams in the world right now, with a lot of good players, and that’s why I always wanted to come here."

"It’s a little more physical, all teams are fit and physically strong. The way teams defend in the Bundesliga compared to Swedish league is very different. In Sweden we’re standing in zones and defending the space behind us. In Germany it’s go forward and go 100%. It’s very different for me when I have the ball and it’s given me a new way of thinking and has developed my game."

In her first season in Germany Wolfsburg pipped the holders, Bayern Munich, to the Bundesliga crown as the team secured the league and cup double.

Last Sunday Wolfsburg Ladies beat Chelsea Ladies 2-0 in their Women's Champions League semi-final second leg to win 5-1 on aggregate and reach the final, where they will face Lyon at the Valeriy Lobanovskiy Dynamo Stadium in Kiev on 24th May. Harder scored the opening goal in Wolfsburg's 2-0 win.

This season, with her team two points clear of second-placed Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga Women's League, with the German Cup Final (DFB-Pokal) on the 19th May, Harder and her team-mates are targeting the treble!

On her International career: At the inaugural 2008 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in New Zealand, Harder was part of the Denmark team who won their group before losing 4–0 to eventual champions North Korea in the quarter-final. Still 16 years old, she contributed a hat-trick to a crushing 15–0 win over Georgia in her senior international debut in October 2009, and she has continued to score regularly for the Danish team ever since.

Harder scored further hat-tricks against Austria and Armenia in 2011 and Russia in 2013. She was named in national coach Kenneth Heiner-Møller's Denmark squad for UEFA Women's Euro 2013. With nine goals she had been the team's top goalscorer in qualifying.

In October 2013, Harder won her 50th cap for Denmark in a 1–1 draw with Serbia. She scored Denmark's goal in the match. In March 2016, Harder was appointed captain of the national team.

In 2017, she was named in national coach Nils Nielsen's Denmark squad for the UEFA Women's Euro 2017. She captained the team to the final and scored a goal in Denmark's 4–2 defeat by hosts the Netherlands. She was voted runner-up to Lieke Martens in the UEFA Women's Player of the Year Award for 2016–17.

Pernille Harder is one of the five nominees for the BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2018 award.
On being nominated she said: "It's an honour. A nomination like this is one of the things you work really hard for your whole career, so I'm really happy to be nominated and 2017 was a really good year for me."

Away from football, Pernille enjoys playing golf.

You can follow Pernille on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook

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