‘The pre-match speeches are warlike. We are going into battle on the field together’
Favourites Lyon face Bayern Munich tomorrow as the women’s Champions League resumes. Amandine Henry gives Katie Whyatt a unique and exclusive insight into the French side’s dressing room
IN THE DRESSING ROOM The speeches
I have won the Champions League five times and each time it has a special flavour. It is like being in an emotional elevator.
If we do win the Champions League this time, we have arrived at our season’s objective.
We want to show that we are continuing to be the best team year after year. It is about building the team and keeping that feeling of solidarity. The dressing room speeches are warlike words. We are going into a battle on the field together. A few of us will speak.
We try to speak French as much as we can, but if there is a situation where some players cannot understand or grasp something, English comes in.
The captain, Wendie Renard, always has a word before we go out, and maybe the experienced leaders will too – players such as goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi and midfielder Eugenie Le Sommer.
Ada Hegerberg likes people around her and communicates in the dressing room, although she is currently injured. Lots of us can do that, and it depends on what each situation demands.
We talk through last-minute details on free-kicks and dead balls, and make sure everyone understands what they need to do.
We always have sounds going in the dressing room. We have a good mix of music because there are lots of different nationalities. We tend to take turns: Lucy Bronze and Renard put music on, and sometimes it’s me. We’ll often have rap music, and Bronze’s Spotify playlist has things like Avicii and Sigma. The big one currently is Jerusalema by Master KG – there’s a dance that goes with it – but it depends on the mood.
PLAYERS TO WATCH Dzsenifer Marozsan, midfielder
I would quite simply say she is the best women’s footballer in the world in terms of technique and skill. She is strong, has great vision and she is unselfish. She’s a top, top player. Off the field, she is very open and friendly.
She’s really humble, down to earth and is always thinking of other people. She’s very generous in spirit in that she’s such a great player that she could be someone who spends a lot of time in her own world, in her own space – but she’s the opposite. She’s generous with her time, too. If someone is down in the dressing room, she takes time to speak with them.
Lucy Bronze, defender
She’s unique in the women’s game: she’s probably the first female fullback to cover so much ground. It’s a kind of model you’ve seen in the men’s game, with players in the past like Dani Alves and Marcelo. It’s a position that has evolved in the men’s game and is probably about to do so in the women’s.
Off the field, she’s really down to earth and has a good head on her shoulders. In training, she is 100 per cent, she goes all out all the time. She’s very powerful and has huge levels of endurance.
Nikita Parris, forward
As for her English, her accent, I’ve just given up – I don’t understand a word, unfortunately. The settlingin process is going really well: she’s understanding what it means to play for Lyon and she’s playing more games.
She likes to laugh and joke around, and she is quite outgoing, but mainly with the little group of players she knows very, very well. She doesn’t like to take centre stage.
Saki Kumagai, midfielder
She’s very quiet, very respectful. Maybe that is a cultural trait of her Japanese nationality, but she really, really works hard.
Maybe that goes unnoticed a bit, and she’s in the shadows of some of the other players – purely and simply because of the role and the position she plays. But she’s rigorous in everything she does.
It is very open-style management. Everyone has the chance to express themselves, and if they’ve got something on their mind, they can go and talk freely with the board, the owners and the managers of the club. The training that the coach, Jean-Luc Vasseur, prepares us for during the week is always tailored towards the opponent that weekend. He will take us on one side as individual players from time to time, and he’ll offer advice.
He might say, “I’d like it if you could move in a certain way.” He’ll show us videos on that. Group and individually, he’ll prepare.
The captain Renard is very strict, but that’s down to her ultimate professionalism. But we also maintain a strict regime ourselves.
We know what it’s all about to have a strict diet, to rehydrate after training, to be on time, to speak in a correct manner.
We’re very self-disciplined. Fortunately, we do have a life outside the game, and it’s not all eat, sleep, football. I personally like to have that way of switching off.
I like going out walking. It depends on the individual, but we all have our lives off the field.
Nike is an official partner of Uefa Women’s Football and the match ball supplier for the Women’s Champions League. For more information visit nike.com
Pedigree: Amandine Henry is going for a sixth Champions League title