Euro 2017: Dominik Thalhammer talks gradual progress

Austrian coach talks to us about his history-making team.

Euro 2017: Dominik Thalhammer talks gradual progress
Credit: Getty/Dean Mouhtaropoulos

With Austria taking Euro 2017 by storm we spoke to head coach, Dominik Thalhammer about the steady growth of the team and how their successes in the Netherlands are no fluke.

Progression

Having qualified for their first ever major tournament the team has surpassed all expectations to reach the last four but their success hasn’t been overnight.

It was a process throughout the years, we did it step-by-step and we didn’t focus too much on results but on the process to get where we are.

One of the plus points of the work going on in Austria was the advent of the Centre for women’s football (Zentrums für Frauenfußball), but with a booming league in Germany, many of the better-known Austrian footballers have greatly benefited from making the jump to the neighbouring Frauen-Bundesliga,

Of course it has, it was positive but some of our players have been there and developed there but the other part is that some of our players have been to other leagues – like Germany – so some have chosen another way because we’ve only had the centre since 2011.

A key component in the team, Thalhammer has not just worked with the youth teams in Austria as well as working at the centre, the team very much in his model,

I was also the director of the centre for many years but at the centre the development of the individual player is the focus. But here we are here at A. National team level which means that we have to play what the team is able to which is what we’ve done so far at the Euros.

Credit: Getty/Dean Mouhtaropoulos
Credit: Getty/Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Work to be done at home

Despite the successes of the team at the Euros, the team is split down the middle, half playing in Germany and the other half in Austria, those still at home unable to boast the same strengths as their counterparts,

“The level of Austrian domestic league isn’t very high so we have some work to do here to improve the league but the players in Germany are forced to do their best every day (every match) because every opponent is strong.

Surprising many with their attacking play, flexibility and the understanding of when to attack and when to drop deep, Austria and Thalhammer have been on an upward learning curve, calling upon their experiences to play to their strengths,

During the qualification we learned that we can’t be successful with just one style of play so we implemented various systems so we could be more flexible, we took a high risk because sometimes we press high and sometimes we fall back in defence. If you look at the England game it was a trial for us but what we’re playing here is a high risk but it’s paid off.

Universally written-off before the tournament started, even the team had their expectations low, but not just having made it out of a tricky group with favourites France but topping the group and reachig the last four, the sky’s the limit for Austria,

Of course, it’s a great achievement, the goal when we came here was to get one draw, to get one point, then we thought maybe we can get a win but now we’re in the last four and that’s amazing. And the fact that that there was never really an underdog that go so far in a major women’s tournament… we’re the first to do so and that’s what makes us so proud.”

Women's Football