BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2017: Melanie Behringer profile

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On Olympic gold, Bundesliga sucess and playing against boys

We are profiling each of the five nominees for the BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2017 award. Voting has now closed but you can see all the contenders' profiles and read full terms here. The winner will be revealed on Tuesday, 30 May, during Sport Today on BBC World Service from 18:30 GMT (19:30 BST).

Winning Olympic gold in her final international match was the dream way for BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2017 nominee Melanie Behringer to bring down the curtain on her Germany career.

A 2-1 victory over Sweden in last year's final at the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro earned the midfielder the one piece of international silverware she was missing.

"That was a crazy, beautiful tournament. For me I think the best tournament overall," the 31-year Bayern Munich player said.

"Our goal was to win a medal and at the end we even got gold. That of course was an amazingly beautiful feeling. Indescribable."

Melanie Behringer
Behringer's 2016 Olympic gold came after winning the World Cup in 2007 and the 2009 and 2013 European Championship

Behringer says she realised after the Olympic semi-final victory over Canada that the next match would be her last for her country.

"I have never before made it to the finals at the Olympics," said the midfielder, who won 123 caps for Germany and was nominated for Fifa's World Player of the Year award in 2016.

"It was the right time to say I am done with playing in the national team."

As well as international success, Berhringer has enjoyed club success in her homeland, where she played for Freiburg, then Bayern Munich and then FFC Frankfurt before returning to Bayern in 2014.

She won the German Cup with Frankfurt in 2011 and 2014 before helping Bayern, to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2015 and 2016.

"[Bayern's] last championship was sometime in the '70s and because of that it was really insane for us to win the title," she said.

"We were 10 new players, as 10 players from Bayern left and therefore we were a complete new team. We had to come together very quickly and managed that in a short period of time."

Some of this recent success is down to the relationship the men's and women's teams have with each other at Bayern, she says.

"It is very, very important that the men's team stand behind the woman's team, especially names like Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Chelsea, Lyon or Paris," she said.

"It helps especially when you play in other countries and they know Bayern Munich is coming. The name alone is important because of the success in the men's team.

"It is very much like being in a family here. We all get on really well with all the players. Actually it is like this at the whole club. If you see any workers from Munich, you just know each other and just talk. It's a feeling that you just belong there. It's a great feeling."

Melanie Behringer and Philipp Lahm
Behringer and Bayern Munich men's captain Philipp Lahm celebrate their Bundesliga titles in 2015

The men's game has been important to her development as a player from an early age, with her earliest footballing memories centring around playing with her brothers and in matches against boys' teams.

"I had to play with the boys, because there was no girls' teams," said Behringer, who was born in Lorrach, in south-west Germany on the border with Switzerland and France.

"I think it is important that you train and play with boys, because then you have to physically push through.

"You learn how to defend yourself and that's why I think it is good to play with boys as long as possible. Opinions are for sure either way."

Why vote for me?

"To win the Olympic gold medal, to hold it in your hands is a feeling you cannot describe. I'm very happy and proud to be nominated for this award, I never believed I would be nominated, but the year of 2016 was very successful and amazing for me."

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