After taking the standard new signing photos, Chelsea FCW’s latest huge signing, Germany and Bayern Munich Women’s midfielder Melanie Leupolz, is back in Deutschland trying to fill the time until football returns. She took some of that time to give a short interview with Frank Hellmann of Frankfurter Rundschau, which spanned quite a few topics.
Since the interview was done and transcribed in German, and I nearly failed the only German class I’ve taken (it’s a funny story, I may tell it in the comments), I relied on Google Translate and German-speaking fellow WAGNH writer, Jimmy Funnell.
The first question was about how she’s doing overall, which in these times universally translates to an inquiry about how one is coping with the sudden new norm of isolation and social-distancing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was at my parents’ for two days, who live in the Allgäu area and have a garden. As my parents still work, and my father specifically works shifts as a mechanical engineer and thus is in contact with other people, I no longer visit in order to avoid catching anything. As such, I’m somewhat isolated. I’m generally someone who is perfectly fine with being alone.”
Sadly being healthy but isolated from family and friends is the best case scenario these days. Though for Melanie, the additional time has given her an opportunity to dig deeper into her other interests, of which there are plenty.
“I definitely don’t feel lonely! I love to cook and bake. I read a lot, currently an in-depth book about U.S. President Donald Trump, because the elections will soon take place in America. And I still have my studies [towards a bachelor’s degree in business psychology, leadership and management].
“One has time for a lot of things which normally fall short. I didn’t even know the feeling of just sitting on the sofa! I’ve been playing football professionally for almost ten years, and I’ve only ever had short winter or summer breaks. I’ve never had as much time as now. Everything is slowed down. I’m now doing quite well just to relax.”
This writer is very interested to know which book about Donald Trump she’s reading, but unfortunately I was not the interviewer, and the real one pivoted swiftly to his apparent previous knowledge of her motorcycling hobby.
“I initially explored Munich on my scooter. I did actually go on to buy an old Honda Hornet at one point, but so much broke that my Dad always had to come and repair it. So I decided to sell it (laughs).”
So, Melanie has apparently swapped motorcycle riding for a book about Donald Trump. Tragic. I am extremely flummoxed by this choice and hopes similar decision-making is never evident at Kingsmeadow.
Anyway, the interview eventually got around to Chelsea, and Leupolz reported a whirlwind time at Stamford Bridge, and the scare on the way out due to Callum Hudson-Odoi’s positive COVID-19 diagnosis.
“I flew there (London) straight from the Algarve Cup with my agent Henner Janzen. When we got to the airport, camera teams were waiting; when we got out of the car, I had to give interviews. And when we came up at Stamford Bridge, we continued with a performance and interviews. Then we looked at possible residential areas.
“Actually, I should have visited the training ground the next day, but then a corona case for the men intervened, so we left.”
As for what made her interested in a move away from the Frauen-Bundesliga and into the rapidly growing in stature WSL? Well, simply watching the games.
“The overall package just fit. There were some great talks that I, for instance, held with Chelsea’s manager Emma Hayes and their trainer Paul Green. I think it’s really exciting that the men and women are treated equally in regard to marketing. Both teams are on the same level; I didn’t know that.
“I actually even watched quite a few games via the FA Player App and am convinced that I can still improve my game here.”
Amazing (said with all of the sarcasm my Americanness can muster) what an accessible league can do. Sometimes it might even promote itself! [end of American sarcasm]
Her explanation is also a strong advert for Chelsea, who have for many years taken our women’s team more seriously than most (if not all) of our rivals. With the growth of the WSL and Chelsea’s internal determination to add another Champions League trophy, the club have been even more deeply committed to training, recruiting and marketing the women’s team. The squad’s dominance this season (unbeaten in the league and with one trophy already secured) is reflective of the club’s investment and seriousness.
As for the end of her Bayern Munich career and the start of her Chelsea career, Leupolz is torn. She doesn’t want to have already played her last match in red before swapping it for blue, but she — like most of us — is thinking health and safety first.
“I personally would just like to play for FC Bayern again. It is not a nice thought to imagine that I have made my last game for the club. So I hope we can play again, but of course it has to be justifiable from a health point of view.
“The most important thing is that as many people as possible stay healthy.”
–Melanie Leupolz; source: Frankfurter Rundschau