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Dublin: 4 °C Monday 24 February, 2020
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Amber Barrett on a German mission and won't let language barrier block road to glory

‘I’m a realist and I know that it will take time to adjust but I’ve no doubt that I’m good enough.’

Amber Barrett was speaking at the launch of the SPAR FAI Primary School 5S programme for 2020.
Amber Barrett was speaking at the launch of the SPAR FAI Primary School 5S programme for 2020.
Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

AMBER BARRETT CAME ready and waiting with the sharp one-liner to get things going.

“My German isn’t great at the minute. It’s Scheiße… which is shite,” the Republic of Ireland international deadpanned.

The 24-year-old delivered the joke with aplomb but there are far more serious issues to discuss; not least her progress in the German Bundesliga with FC Koln.

Barrett arrived from Peamount United in July and, ahead of the resumption of the season on 9 February following a winter break, the striker is steadfast in her belief that she belongs at this elite level.

“Absolutely. Look, the first year is probably going to be….not a write off but….I maybe won’t play as much football this season as hopefully I will in the coming season,” she reasoned.

“Coming from [Ireland], even the players when they found out that I had come from training twice a week, they couldn’t believe it. They were like, ‘it’s unbelievable’ because it’s unheard of over there.

Even their second or Sunday league teams will train three or four nights a week. So I’ve come from something different but I’m quite confident in my ability. I’m a realist and I know that it will take time to adjust but I’ve no doubt that I’m good enough.  I’ve scored twice. I’ve scored in the Bundesliga.”

Those strikes have been some of the few rays of light on the pitch, with coach Willie Breuer departing, replaced by Sascha Glass, the former Frankfurt and SC Sand manager.

Koln are struggling, one place above the drop zone and third from bottom, and Barrett has been battling to make her presence felt after former Ireland head coach Colin Bell recommended her to the German club.

“There was no certainty that I was going to be in the 18 – for the first two weeks, I wasn’t even in the 18, so I was completely shell shocked, as it was a complete change of scenery.

“And it was difficult at the start, I didn’t understand a word. Everything is through German, football is through German, meetings are through German.

“I am lucky that there are good girls there that will say ‘look, this is what he said to you’, cause sometimes I’m like, ‘I haven’t a bloody breeze what he’s talking about’. So I think I went from, ‘I just want to know what people are talking about’. But it’s all part of building adversity and overcoming challenges

“We went through a period of not winning any games and yet it was the same starting 11 and he was not making any changes closer to goal, and that frustrated me. But I was being reassured that maybe he (coach Willie Breuer) was giving me more time to settle in,” Barrett continues.

amber-barrett Barrett in action for Ireland. Source: Matteo Ciambelli/INPHO

“Having scored in the Greece game [for Ireland], though, and then that weekend not even getting two minutes; that was hard for me.

“Hopefully now it is up for me to impress this new fella and see how things go. Hopefully it won’t take as long for this guy to give me more game time anyway.”

Barrett was walking the halls of the FAI’s headquarters in Dublin yesterday as she took part in promotional activities, joking that new Ireland boss Vera Pauw didn’t recognise her with make-up on.

“I don’t think anyone did,” she laughed, another one-liner delivered perfectly.

But Pauw has maintained contact during her time in Germany, offering any advice or guidance required ahead of the European Championship qualification double header in March, when Ireland face Greece in Dublin and then travel to Montenegro.

Barrett reckons Ireland are in a three-way battle for second spot – which they currently occupy – with group leaders Germany a class above.

However, before switching her full focus to those internationals, the Donegal native was keen to stress the importance of having as rounded a life as possible outside the game to keep some perspective.

Barrett completed her Masters in Education at DCU prior to leaving for the continent, meaning she is a qualified secondary school teacher, and she said: “I think it’s the most important thing I’ve done. It’s also given me a little bit of maturity I didn’t have when I was 20/21 and finishing my degree in Maynooth.

“I would encourage every single person to go and do something after they finish school. It can be a PLC, it can be college, it can even going to work.

“Do something because with football you don’t not have guarantees – it could be 10-year career, five years or it could be one. Injuries happen, life happens so I think everyone needs that security net. And, lucky enough, I have it.”

She just won’t be teaching German.

SPAR5s blitzes are open to boys and girls from 4th, 5th and 6th classes. Schools can register until February 14th at www.fai.ie/primary5

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