Asked to give her thoughts on 2016, Sara Dabritz's answer was concise and to the point. "It was a year full of highlights," she said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. It is a fitting description given her achievements over the past 12 months: she won the German championship, reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women's Champions League for the first time and won gold at the Women's Olympic Football Tournament in Rio.
The 21-year-old enjoyed those successes alongside team-mate Melanie Behringer. Both were key figures in those triumphs, so it came as no surprise to find the duo among the ten nominees for The Best FIFA Women's Player Award. Nevertheless, Dabritz herself was somewhat taken aback.
"To be honest I was very surprised to hear I was in the top ten," said the German youngster. "But obviously it's a big honour and makes me happy. I was really proud." However, after the three shortlisted candidates were announced at the start of December, the attacker is no longer in the running to win the prize.
*The final trio of Carli Lloyd, Marta and Behringer can still dare to dream, though. And there is no doubt who the Munich native is backing: "All three players are world-class and would deserve to win it. But I'd really like it to go to Mel."
They have played together at Bayern Munich since summer 2015, but were team-mates in the German national side long before then. And Dabritz is full of praise for her club captain: "She's a real leader both on and off the pitch. She takes on a lot of responsibility and is always willing to help the team. She's also an outstanding footballer and has a superb shooting technique. She has a calmness on the ball that gives the whole team a certain composure."
It is that latter quality that particularly impresses the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup 2014 winner. "It doesn't matter if she receives an easy or a difficult ball, she's always unflustered, brings a calmness to the game and tries to control the ball. She's got an eye for playing great passes into the final third and is also dangerous in front of goal herself." That much was evident at the Olympics, where Behringer scored five times.
Looking to the future"She was top scorer at the Olympics, and did that as a defensive midfielder," said Dabritz. "You don't see that very often with players in that position. You can learn a lot by watching her and it's great that we train together almost every day and I can see what she does." It is therefore safe to say that Behringer has played her part in the rapid rise of Dabritz, now a 38-time senior international.
If it were up to Dabritz, her role model would be suitably rewarded at The Best FIFA Football Awards™ on 9 January in Zurich, because "Mel had an excellent year". If Behringer does indeed take the trophy home, in 2017 Dabritz will be able to learn from the best women's player in the world every day. That in turn would no doubt help the youngster achieve her own aims.
Her maiden nomination this year is just the start: "It's an incentive for me for the future and shows that things are going well. But I want to keep developing so that I can be included again another time."
Dabritz will be giving her all again next year. The UEFA Women's EURO will take place in the summer, while she is still participating in three competitions with Bayern. Alongside Behringer, she is eager to make 2017 another year of highlights.