LONDON: Ann-Katrin Berger will be between the posts for Chelsea when they face the intimidating challenge of European champions Lyon on Sunday but having overcome cancer it will seem mild by comparison.
The 28-year-old German told The Times on Saturday football had played a pivotal role in her battle with thyroid cancer.
She was diagnosed with it in November 2017 but was back playing for Birmingham 61 days later — a 1-0 win over Reading in the FA Women’s Cup.
“It was a hard time but I think football helped me a lot, it was just my target,” said Berger, who went on that season to be named in the team of the year.
“I just wanted to play football again, I wanted to show cancer that it had no chance against me. So I lived my life and they were my only thoughts through the process.”
Berger admits she is a “little bit crazy” but of all the positions which requires that characteristic goalkeeper is the one.
“Everyone says that goalkeepers are crazy and I think you have to be a little bit crazy,” she said.
“You also have to be calm.
“If you are too nervous then these mistakes will happen but, if you show the team you are calm and you don’t fear mistakes, then your team is working for you and it makes it easier for me as well because I don’t have to make as many saves.”
Berger concedes people questioned her logic when she left Birmingham for Chelsea this season going from undisputed number one to competing with two top class international goalkeepers, Swedish legend Hedvig Lindahl and England’s Carly Telford.
“The competition was the reason I came to Chelsea,” she said.
“These two goalkeepers show me what they can do and I wanted to learn their qualities and I think it makes it easier for me to adapt and say, ‘That is not my strength, that is Hedvig’s or Carly’s,’ and maybe I can learn from them to progress my game.”
Having overcome these challenges it is little wonder she believes she can cope with five-time Champions League winners Lyon — who are bidding for a fourth successive trophy — and help Chelsea go one better than last year by progressing to the final.
“Most footballers are under pressure and they love it, you can see in the men’s game like Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi -— they step up in Champions League games or if they want to win a title or a cup,” she said.
“I think I am this type of person as well.”