Rotterdam, July 26, 2017 – Unbeaten and qualified for the quarter-finals, Austria are one of the biggest surprises during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017. They came as underdogs but ended up topping a group that featured Iceland, France and Switzerland. The father of their success is Dominik Thalhammer. At first glance, the Austrian manager seems a bit shy. During games, he stands in a rational, nearly stoical way, with emotions rarely shown.
“It is a great moment for football in Austria. We are among the eight best teams in Europe and group winners ahead of France. I’m very proud of the whole team. We believed in the style that we adopted a few years ago”, said the 46-year old coach after the convincing 3-0 win against Iceland.
This path of success began in 2011, when Thalhammer started working for the Austrian football association ÖFB. As head of the national centre for women’s football, he presented a plan for further achievements. Due to his dual function, Thalhammer coached the Women's U-17 team as well, where he could develop future talents.
He said: “It is nice to work on longer-term projects. We are all open-minded towards adjustments and have visions. There is great mutual trust and I don’t know if I would find this in another team again.”
From the side of the U-17 Euro in 2014, four players can be found in the current squad. Beside these activities, Thalhammer also assumed the responsibility for the national A-team with the objective to develop women’s football.
Even if not everything worked smoothly since his appointment, Thalhammer brought structure into women’s football in Austria. In 2012 they reached for the first time the playoffs for the Euro in Sweden, losing against Russia. After the missed qualification for the World Cup 2015, Thalhammer resigned from his previous occupations and focused exclusively in the women’s selection.
During the first participation at the prestigious Cyprus Cup on March 2016, Austria won the tournament, which meant the first title ever for the women’s football national team. And just a few months later, Austria secured the historic qualification for the Women's Euro in the Netherlands.
When they were beaten 3-0 by England this April, Thalhammer did not panic. He compared his side with a caterpillar, which pupates and develops to a butterfly.
He said: “I hope that we can implement this metaphor during the Euro. We tried a lot of things in this game. Sometimes it’s necessary to go a step back before moving forward.” After the group stage, it can be confirmed that the Austrian team turned into a beautiful butterfly, which still could fly quite a while.