It has been an unforgettable week for the Gerhardt family. On Tuesday, Yannick earned his first senior cap for the German national team in the friendly against Italy. Two days later, some 13,500 km away, his sister Anna, who is four years his junior, produced a stellar showing in the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup Papua New Guinea 2016.
The younger Gerhardt gave the Mexico defence a torrid time with her tireless running up the left flank and set up all three goals in an emphatic win that leaves her side with maximum points after their first two group-stage games. "Our opponents don't know how to stop her," coach Maren Meinert told FIFA.com with more than a hint of pride in her voice. "In my book she was the best player on the pitch in the first match against Venezuela, and she was superb again against Mexico. She's not just fast – she's got the end product too."
One such surge down the left wing yielded the opening goal against the Mexicans. Gerhardt burst into the box, checked inside and tried her luck with her left foot. Goalkeeper Emily Alvarado could only parry the effort and the ball fell to the Die Mannschaft No2 who, instead of shooting again, showed great poise to pick out team-mate Stefanie Sanders, who had only to apply the slightest of touches to turn the ball into the empty net.
"Of course I'm delighted to have played so well, getting three assists in one match is fantastic, but the three points are much more important," said the star humbly in the bowels of the National Football Stadium in Port Moresby. "Our style of play, in which we attack down the flanks, suits me down to the ground," she went on, "It's wonderful to have recorded such a comfortable victory. We're really pleased with both of our results so far, and now we want to collect a third win to carry the momentum into the quarter-finals."
Moving up the ranks
The attacking midfielder joined the Cologne academy at the age of 11 and rose through the ranks all the way to the first team. However, earlier this year she made the move to Bayern Munich, the reigning Frauen-Bundesliga champions.
Hang on a second… A Bayern Munich player who cuts in from the flank with the ball glued to their foot, races past opposition players, drives into the area and then either takes on the shot themselves or passes to a better-placed team-mate. Remind you of anybody? We could just as easily be talking about Arjen Robben, the marauding Dutch winger renowned for his lethal, lung-busting dribbles. It is small wonder, then, that Gerhardt models her game on the Dutchman: "I watch as many of his matches as I can, although he plays on the right and I operate on the left. I'm also a fan of David Alaba, though."
Gerhard's admiration for Alaba, who lines up at left-back for Bayern, is equally unsurprising, as she was fielded at full-back for the German youth teams. This explains her shirt number, which is uncharacteristic for a winger: "At club level I've always played on the left side of attack, whereas at international level I'd always been a right-back, but that's changed now." Meinert's decision to make this shift was a shrewd one judging by the evidence of the first two rounds of group-stage action in Papua New Guinea.
Anna is in regular contact with her brother Yannick, another full-back, who naturally got up early over in Germany to wish his sister luck and watch her on TV. Asked which of the two is the better player, Anna diplomatically sidestepped the question: "Obviously when I was a girl I always sought to emulate him, but I'd say that we've been equally good for a while now," the 18-year-old said with a smile before climbing on board the team bus.