Georgia Stanway announced herself to the Bundesliga just seven minutes into her Bayern Munich debut on the opening weekend of the season, picking up a yellow card after scything down an Eintracht Frankfurt player in the middle of the park.
It was a mixture of nerves and stamping her authority on the match, a show of force for her opponents and teammates alike.
But, while Stanway’s opening gambit in her first league start for Bayern may have been a little over-eager, the 23-year-old’s excitement and desire to be playing in Germany is clear.
“From a young age I have always been interested in the way that the Germans play,” Stanway told DW.
“From youth level and even at a national level, they are always tough to play against. I always looked up to how well they played and [analyzed] why they were so good.”
“In terms of football this move best suited me because I like the tactical, technical and physical side of the German style. I knew this was where I was going to get challenged and pushed the most and that could potentially get the most out of me.”
A Euro 2022 victory against Germany at Wembley should have been the ideal culmination to Stanway’s career in England.
The attacking midfielder became Manchester City’s top-scorer in January 2022 when she netted a hat-trick during an FA Cup rout against Nottingham Forest, having been the club’s youngest player to make the first team seven years prior at the age of just 15.
However, her final season with the Sky Blues was marred by doubts and inconsistency over her place in the team.
“I was in a position where I was being classed as versatile,” Stanway explained. “I was playing in every single position just trying to do a job for the team and that’s not something that I wanted.”
“That was obviously a really difficult time when you don’t know if you’re coming or going, you don’t know if you’re here or there.”
“You’re not able to get any consistency in your game because you’re just classed as ‘a helper.’ It was a case of whatever happened, whatever position I was in, it was just trying to get the best out of it.”
“Ultimately, I was able to knuckle down a position for the Euros, it worked out well but it also could have gone the other way.”
Georgia Stanway scored the extra-time winner against Spain the Euro 2022 quarter final
Bayern Munich approached the midfielder in late February and although other teams made offers, Stanway said the Bavarian side made her feel ‘worthy.’
Playing just 21 minutes in the Champions League in her final season with City was difficult to swallow but Stanway has already made up for lost time — playing all 180 minutes of Bayern’s two-leg qualifying victory over Real Sociedad to earn the German side a place in the competition’s main draw.
During Bayern’s 4-0 victory away at MSV Duisburg on Sunday, Stanway was part of a flowing team move that led to the visitors’ third goal — showing further evidence that she has taken little time to get on the same wavelength as her new teammates.
“When you’re picking a team [to move to], there is always going to be that thought at the back of your head of: ‘Have I made the right decision?'” Stanway added. “I honestly haven’t questioned anything once.”
“This year is about consistency for me and in this team, it could also be about a bit of leadership, not in the sense of commanding but just in the way I play. I could lead by how I play whether it is a last-ditch tackle or a tackle that is a catalyst [to launch an attack].”
“Being unhappy is part and parcel of football but life is too short to just go through the motions and dwell on things. I just want to enjoy my football, enjoy playing in the environment I am in and making sure I’m getting the best out of everything.”
Georgia Stanway has won five of her first six matches with Bayern Munich
After another swell of interest in women’s football following the success of the Euros, Stanway is aware of the added eyes on the game.
Bayern’s opening match against Frankfurt produced a record Bundesliga turnout of 23,200 spectators and the first Women’s Super League (WSL) match of the season in England saw a peak of 482,000 people watching on TV, with an average of 381,000.
And Stanway understands the role the players will need take to ensure the enhanced interest is not simply a flash in the pan.
“It comes down to us as players,” she said. “Are we able to connect with the fans, are we able to show them a little bit both on and off the pitch, to find a way to connect with them on all bases.”
“At the same time, we need to play football that is attractive and enjoyable to watch because that’s how we’ll be able to keep hold of fans for longer.”
Stanway’s start to life in Germany has achieved just that, with Bayern Munich having won five of their six matches so far this season across the German Cup, Bundesliga and Champions League, scoring an impressive 18 goals in the process and conceding just one.
Keeping it up may not prove to be quite as easy but Stanway is prepared for every eventuality.
Edited by Matt Ford