Who is Brandi Chastain

An American summer fairy tale

USA 1999

Three years after the 1996 Olympic victory in their own country, the US soccer players also triumphed at the home World Cup. The tournament set new standards in terms of audience participation and media presence. The German team failed in the quarter-finals due to the hosts.

Gao Hong has to keep this penalty. The keeper of the Chinese selection is up to any means for this. It uses psychological warfare. Hong puts on her broadest smile, makes eye contact with Brandi Chastain with her eyes and then holds her hands in front of her face. But the American defender, the fifth shooter on her team in the World Cup final, looks to the ground. "When I went to the penalty kick, I just thought, 'Don't look the goalkeeper in the eyes,'" she later reveals. 90,185 spectators at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, including President Bill Clinton, catch their breath when Chastain runs up. She shoots halfway into the right corner, Hong suspects the corner, but stretches in vain. The USA won the final 5: 4 (0: 0, 0: 0) on penalties and are world champions for the second time.

"You won because you didn't want to lose"

The cheers in the team of coach Tony DiCicco then knows no bounds. Chastain gets on his knees, tears off the white jersey in euphoria and clenches his fists. The image of the defender wearing only a black sports bra on her upper body goes around the world. "In men's football, taking off your jersey is a normal gesture of joy. I wanted to show: 'I'm a strong woman, I'm proud, that's me,'" she explains to American TV channels. A sentence that also applies to her teammates. The hosts have withstood the enormous pressure and expectations in their own country. "They won because they didn't want to lose. The team has written a success story that will take its place in history," said DiCicco, praising his world champions.

DFB team in the quarter-finals against USA

But the American dream of winning the home World Cup almost fell through in the quarter-finals. After three clear wins in the group stage (3-0 against Denmark, 7-1 against Nigeria and 3-0 against North Korea), the opponents in the round of eight on July 1, 1999 in Washington D.C. Germany. The 54,642 spectators see a dramatic encounter in which the DFB selection takes the lead in the fifth minute through an own goal by Chastain. An unsuccessful back pass of the later final heroine to keeper Briana Scurry spins into the case. But the hosts can quickly equalize with the friendly support of Steffi Jones. Tiffeny Milbrett used a mistake by the German defender to make it 1: 1 (16th). In the group matches against Italy (1: 1) and Brazil (3: 3), individual mistakes led to goals conceded by trainer Tina Theune-Meyer's team. Only in the duel with Mexico (6: 0) did the defense save itself. So it was only enough to finish second behind Brazil. Otherwise it would have been against Nigeria in the round of the last eight. Certainly a more pleasant task than the duel with the USA.

Two headed goals lead to an unfortunate defeat

But the Germans are selling dearly against the Olympic champion. Seconds before the break, Wiegmann succeeds in taking the lead again (45th) with a precise shot from 20 meters into the upper left corner - a dream goal. Now it has to be seen how the nerves of the hostesses, who were hardly or not at all required in the previous games, are in order. The Americans withstand the pressure. Also because Germany defends badly in two corner kicks. The beneficiaries are Chastain (49th) and Joy Fawcett (66th). Both are successful in their heads. While President Clinton and his wife Hillary enthusiastically celebrate their 3-2 victory, tears roll down their cheeks from DFB attacker Birgit Prinz. Despite the unfortunate departure, coach Theune-Meyer is proud of her team: "We have shown that we can keep up with the best at a high level."

China humiliates defending champions Norway

In addition to the USA, China (2-0 against Russia), Norway (3-1 against Sweden) and Brazil (4: 3 after extra time against Nigeria) move into the semi-finals. In the first semifinals, the hosts beat Brazil 2-0 in front of 73,123 spectators in San Francisco. Cindy Parlow (5th) and Michelle Akers with a penalty (80th) score the hits. The "Seleção" in Sisleide do Amor Lima, Sisi for short, is the most successful tournament scorer (seven goals). In addition, the South Americans win the game for third place against Norway 5: 4 (0: 0, 0: 0) on penalties. The Scandinavians, who traveled to the USA as defending champions, were humiliated by China in the semi-finals. It was 0: 5 (0: 2) after 90 one-sided minutes in Boston.

New edition of the Olympic final

Accordingly, the Asians will by no means go into the final as outsiders. They also want to take revenge for the lost Olympic final in Athens / Georgia in 1996. At that time they were inferior to the USA by 1: 2 (1: 1). Coach Ma Yuanan's team is on a par with the hosts. After regular playing time and extra time, the score is 0-0. The penalty shoot-out has to decide.

Ying fails - Chastain's million shot

To meet the first two shooters of both teams. Then Liu Ying goes to the "ominous point". "Your body language was terrible. It looked like you didn't want to shoot. I saw it and thought, 'This will be the one,'" said US keeper Scurry. She can parry the weak attempt of the Chinese. Then Kristine Lilly and Mia Hamm transform for the Olympic champion, Zhang Ouying and Sun Wen are successful for the Yuanan team. Chastain now has it in his hand or on his feet to make America's second World Cup triumph perfect. She meets, goes on her knees and takes off her jersey. The goal makes the USA a world champion and Chastain a millionaire. A sporting goods manufacturer equips them with a lucrative contract. But the California-born defense attorney does not want to be reduced to her famous gesture of joy. Her autobiography is titled: "It's not about the bra".