- Sam Mewis was just named US Player of the Year
- The midfielder plays for the English Manchester City
- Mewis talks about his mentality, his family and his ambitions
If one term besides “excellence” perfectly defines the United States Women’s National Team, it is “confidence”. Americans are the best in the world and they know it.
The American international Sam Mewis, for her part, has one more reason to roll the mechanics: she has just been elected Player of the year in her country. Easily. Mewis was also excellent at Manchester City where she arrived to extend the superb list of American stars in the English WSL.
US manager Vlatko Andonovski describes his excellent midfielder as “the perfect illustration of what the US national team is.” Yet Mewis does exude confidence. Far from there.
She is not in false modesty when she says “hopes to be called for the next stage” of the national team or when she said, before the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 ™, “does not wanting to be the reason why we are not going to win “. It is indeed discretion, even shyness, that has shaped his career.
On the other hand, the 28-year-old’s determination never to stagnate is glaring at every meeting. It is this dedication to her personal development that allowed Mewis to forget her non-selection at Canada 2015 to finally land her first selection in 2019 before becoming “the best player of our team”, according to Megan Rapinoe. .
An ankle injury, sustained after scoring a hat-trick against Colombia in January, will prevent Mewis from showing the extent of his talents in the SheBelieves Cup. However, she will support her teammates and in particular her sister Kristie and hopes that the two Mewis midfielders will be able to win gold at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament this year.
Sam, you’ve been an American international with Kristie since you were a kid. You spent your teenage years playing tournaments all over the world. Looking back, what memories do you keep of these experiences?
Living far from home, playing football at a very high level against players from other cultures… It was a very good preparation for what I experienced in 2019 at the Senior World Cup. The structure is really similar from tournament to tournament, so experiencing that when you’re a youngster – and getting to know the difficulties – it prepares you for larger-scale tournaments. Traveling the world, especially at such a young age, is already a real privilege, but to live this experience with my sister, it was even more special even if there were times when we did not always get along very good at the time! (laughs) But even in spite of that, football was our common point. People on the outside didn’t always understand that side, so it brought us closer together.
Can we say that these teenage conflicts are well and truly in the past today? Kristie and you seem inseparable.
It’s certain. My mother always says: “Fortunately they are friends now!” (laughs) In these junior tournaments, during our high school years, we argued a lot. I think it was hard to be so similar. We did the same thing, we followed the same path and suddenly, as we were sisters, people from outside always compared us to each other. I think we understand better today that it’s actually superb that we are both professional footballers and that we are trying to break into the national team. It’s cool and unique and we love it. I also think that we have matured, we have learned to understand each other better and we are much more patient with each other. To me, Kristie is my best friend and no one understands me as well as she does.
It might not compare to the World Cup final, but against Colombia in January you scored a hat-trick and Kristie also rattled the net. Was it one of the best experiences of your career?
It was unreal! I was already out when Kristie came in. When she scored I was like, “What must our parents be thinking right now?” I asked them the question later and my mom replied that she cried because she was so proud and happy. But I know I can speak for both of us when I say we don’t want to stop there. We will remember that game, but we both want to be part of the team that will go to the Olympic Games to win the gold medal. It would be great if we could do it together.
What do the Olympic Games mean to you, especially after missing the last edition?
It’s a shadow in my career, difficult to accept. I was really not far from being called for Rio and I understand why I was not, but it necessarily motivated me to go to Tokyo. I have always dreamed of the Olympic Games.
You say you were close to being in the squad in 2016, you who had already missed the selection for the 2015 World Cup. What has changed after Rio? What made you selected for France 2019?
I grew up, first of all. I was just out of college on the eve of the 2015 World Cup and looking back I wasn’t as professional as I could have been. I wasn’t doing everything I could, all the time, to be the player I wanted to be. I learned the lesson. But I must also say that I owe a lot to the coaches with whom I have worked during all these years. I am thinking in particular of my time at North Carolina Courage with Paul Riley because I learned a lot. I also started training during the break with a coach, Walter Norton. He never let me do just the bare minimum. When I was on the waiting list for the Olympics, he just said, “This story is not nice. We’re going to write you a nice story.” I started to work extremely hard and found that I could reach a whole new dimension by working harder.
Given your humility, did you have to make a psychological effort to become a little more ruthless?
Of course, in the national team, there is a transition to go through: from a player happy to be called into the group, you must start demanding your place. This is one of the hardest stages for a player to go through and I realize that I am always in the “hope to be called for the next stage” spirit. You may find it a little weird, but in the national team you always feel like you have to prove yourself. There is always someone better than you. But it is clear that when you are only one pawn among others within the team, there must be a click where you say to yourself: “I have my place, I deserve to ‘be here”. This click, I have felt it for a few years now.
But even now, after playing such an important role at France 2019 and having won the title of Player of the Year, you still wonder if you are going to be called to the next camp?
Yes. Well, I have a little more confidence and I say to myself “I belong” more often recently. But it goes, it comes. When I’m in this team, there is always a little voice that tells me: “I two keep working and progressing because as soon as I quit, someone will overtake me “.
Now let’s talk about Man City. You’ve adapted well on the pitch, but has your adaptation off the pitch been hampered by the COVID lockdown and bans that keep you from socializing with your teammates?
I was lucky because my husband and our dog arrived this fall which really helped me settle in and make myself comfortable. Rose’s presence [Lavelle] and now from Abby [Dahlkemper] helped me a lot too. It allows you to be comfortable with the team, to tell yourself that you can be yourself and to know that there will be at least one or two people who know what you are talking about! (laughs) As for the COVID-related restrictions, if there is one positive thing, it’s that it has forced us to focus more on football. You can stay as long as you want in the Man City facilities and there is nothing else to do, so you can take your time and do whatever it takes to train and recover as you wish. . This is the positive point for me.
You mentioned Rose and Abby. It’s not just your teammates on the national team. They are two of your closest friends, aren’t they?
It’s clear. They are two of my best friends in the world and I am so happy that we are reunited here, that we have the same experience at the same time. Imagine, Rose and I won the FA Cup final together at Wembley. It’s unforgettable. I hope we will be able to create other beautiful memories together.
Do you think your English experience helps you progress as a player?
I hope so. I thought it was a great opportunity to grow and progress in my game. This experience – playing in England and in the Champions League – is so fulfilling. One of the things I appreciate the most is the fact that there are so many competitions: you go from a league game to the FA Cup to the Champions League. It’s great to have this strain and so many trophies to aim for.
To conclude, I have to ask you a question about your nickname “Tower of Power”. Do you like this nickname and is it true that Abby Dahlkemper is responsible for it?
Abby was there when it started, but it actually came from the announcer at a Courage game. Maybe Abby gave him the idea! (laughs) We were getting rings after winning the championship and when my name was announced he came out of nowhere: “The mighty tower … Sam Mewis!” We looked at each other and laughed. It was so funny, a great nickname and it stuck. I like. I have adopted it now.