We spoke exclusively to Ramona Petzelberger on joining Aston Villa Women, re-uniting with Marisa Ewers and her national team ambition.
Words & Interview: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Ramona Petzelberger is just one of a number of new signings from the continent this summer at Aston Villa Women, but is already making impressions in training and pre-season.
As the club gears towards their opening fixture of the Women’s Super League season against Manchester City this weekend, Ramona and the rest of the squad are edging every closer to realising their dream of playing in the top tier of women’s football in England.
There is excitement in the ranks at the club, as the Women’s side will be broadcast live on BT Sport and their social media channels from Villa Park as the opening game of the latest Women’s Super League season.
“It’s very exciting and we’re all really looking forward to this match”, Ramona admits.
“There’s a lot of pride and joy to be able to play the opening game, at Villa Park, against Manchester City whilst we’re live on TV.”
Ramona, 28, has spent her entire 12-year career to date in Germany, first making her debut for SG Wattenscheid 09 at the age of 16. Since then, she has played a collective 145 games for both SC 07 Bad Neuenahr and Bayer Leverkusen, before a three year stint at SGS Essen before joining Aston Villa.
She is one of three German signings this summer and is joined by Caroline Siems and Lisa Weiß – with the latter arriving after a stint at Olympique Lyonnais.
There is now a strong German core to the squad, complimenting the arrival of Marisa Ewers last summer, and Petzelberger puts this down to the a certain pedigree within German Women’s Football.
“It could have been players from another country, but in general it’s true that we have a lot of strong, well-trained players in Germany”
“I think we all had aims of playing in the Women’s Super League, and this aligned with the profile of player that Aston Villa were looking for.”
In her time with Bayer Leverkusen, Ramona Petzelberger played alongside the newly appointed captain Marisa Ewers, and the two struck up a strong friendship. This friendship has aided in helping Ramona bed into the squad, and the German midfielder thinks her compatriot is already showing the signs of a good leader.
“Marisa has helped me a lot – I think I’ve probably been annoying her with all of my questions over the past few weeks”
“She is a kind character, very intelligent and empathetic, and she’s even been translating everything that I may not have understood”
“Marisa is a skilful player and has an exceptional knowledge and game intelligence, I’d say she’s a quiet but powerful leader.”
Whilst Petzelberger speaks incredibly highly of her friend, she was happy to divulge into her own style of play and the kind of character she is in the dressing room when asked.
“In football, I’m usually very disciplined and professional in what I do, but I like to be cheeky and creative both on and off the pitch too”, she admits.
“I think I’m a technical player, who reads the game well.”
There is – however – a part of her game that she’s still desperate to reach, and that’s at an International level. Ramona has represented Germany at every level but senior, and it’s still a dream of hers to be involved with her senior national side.
“I would be lying if I said that this is not still my dream or goal to reach” says Petzelberger.
“If good appearances in the Women’s Super League can help me achieve it, I would be thankful, so I’ll be concentrating on what I can influence and how I present myself on the pitch”
“The rest is not in my hands – but I’m sure games in the most professional league in the world will gain some attention from the national team coach.”
It’s clear to see that Aston Villa Women have an exceptional project at hand, that is growing in size every single day. The quality of signings this summer has shocked some, whilst the general investment of the club has been praised by both fans and players alike.
It’s this project that interested Ramona initially, and she knew as soon as she’d had a video call with Gemma Davies and Eniola Aluko, that she wanted to be a part of the project.
“When I talked to Gemma and Eniola in the video call, I knew I would become a part of this journey”
“They represented ambition, intelligence and power within this project and that, paired with the fact I wanted a new experience abroad and to become a better player that made me want to join”
“I wanted to help the team grow, become established in the world’s best league and develop in many areas – I knew it was a process that I wanted to be involved with”
“To be a member of an evolving team with clear goals that are supported by the entire club and fans was something I couldn’t turn down.”
She has also been impressed in her relatively short time at the club with the facilities, the squad and the new signings at the club, something that bodes well for future signings in the future.
“My first few weeks have been exceptionally good to be honest, and we’ve used them to get to know each other on and off the pitch – there’s a great energy between us all”
“I am always pleased when I drive through the front door of Bodymoor Heath knowing I’m going to be spending the next few hours in this place” Ramona gushes.
“It’s impressive to see all the possibilities we can work with and work through the challenges posed to us by COVID-19 – I don’t take it for granted – it’s not typical for women’s football”
“We have a lot of new players with high quality, everyone is bringing their own strengths and qualities already in such a short time.”
Aston Villa Women now face a harsh challenge in their opening game of the season against Manchester City Women, a side who finished second in the league last season via the points-per-game metric used to decide the final outcome.
The Citizens are a strong outfit, and have bolstered an already impressive squad with exceptional talent this summer – and Gemma Davies’ side are not expected to gain anything from the game.
But Petzelberger believes that patience in the process is important for the season ahead, and that the side can surprise a number of opposition teams this season..
“This season will be a challenge – we still have to find ourselves as a squad and learn our routines and the way we want to play”
“We need to be patient and put one-hundred percent into our daily work”
“We have a good mix of fast, experienced, smart and intelligent players and I am sure we can compete in the league – I think we can compete and surprise a team or two”
“It will be a process.”