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FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup

Shekiera's steps on the road to success

(FIFA.com)
U17 Girl's Germany v U17 Girl's Iceland - UEFA U17 Girl's European Championship Qualifier
© Getty Images
  • Germany to face USA, Cameroon and Korea DPR at U-17 Women's World Cup
  • Shekiera Martinez finished as top scorer at the European Championship
  • Martinez: "Our first objective is to reach the knockout rounds"

Not so long ago, Shekiera Martinez would head outside for a kickabout with her friends every afternoon. It's still the case for the 17-year-old Germany youth international, only now she does so at a professional club and will soon be doing so on the global stage, when she heads to the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup Uruguay 2018 in November.

Germany qualified for the tournament in South America after finishing as runners-up at the U-17 European Championship in Lithuania, where Martinez's goals played a major role in her side's success. She found the net nine times in five matches to earn the top scorer's crown. Nevertheless, in an interview with FIFA.com, she refuses to get carried away with the achievement: "I wouldn't have been able to score as many goals without my team. All of my goals are thanks to them and the support of the coaching staff, who always encourage me."

Team spirit is important to Martinez, perhaps because she grew up surrounded by four siblings before she joined 1. FFC Frankfurt in 2016, where she boarded at the club's academy. In February this year she finally made her debut in Germany's top flight at the age of 16, and she also recently signed a contract extension.

Indeed, team spirit is an asset she believes sets Germany apart: "Our passing is good and on top of that our communication with each other both on and off the pitch is one of our biggest strengths."

So does that mean Germany are title contenders? "Our first objective is to reach the knockout rounds," she said cautiously. "If we do that then we'll just take each game as it comes."

Germany will face USA, Cameroon and Korea DPR in Group C. "I've never played against any of them so all three games will be special," Martinez said. "It's a tough group but I think we can achieve something if we play to our best."

A bronze medal at the inaugural FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in 2008 still stands as Germany's best finish across the five tournament editions to date. "I intend to take my chances to score in order to help my team," said Martinez.

The 17-year-old takes inspiration from her role model Celia Sasic, having been taken with her ease on the ball and aerial ability, and closely followed the career of the former Germany international who is now a member of the FIFA Legends group. "I've watched all of her games but unfortunately I've never met her in person," she said.

That could soon change, especially if Martinez's dream comes true: "I'd like to play for the senior national team one day and be a successful player. But I also never want to lose my enjoyment of playing the game." Just like in her afternoon kickabouts with her friends.

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