The Stars of Germany 2011 (that's the women's world cup)

Law degrees, modest salaries, an England team that might just win it...Jonathan Brown on the 11 names to remember when a very different football showcase kicks off tomorrow

The intellectual: Eniola Aluko

While some are impressed by Frank Lampard's Latin GCSE, the bright spark scoring goals for the England women's team sets a higher standard.

Aluko has a first-class law degree from Brunel University and sees no contradiction in mixing brains and boots: "I was put on this earth to play football and for as long as I can remember, I've wanted to be a lawyer." Born in Nigeria, raised in Birmingham, the 24-year-old lives in the US, where she plays for New Jersey's Sky Blue FC and hopes to build up a sports entertainment law practice when she retires. No wonder England are fourth favourites for the trophy.

The hero: Kelly Smith

England's best-known woman player was made an MBE in 2008 and enjoys respect both in and out of the game. She battled against injury and the menaces of depression and drink with the help of the Sporting Chance clinic founded by the former England captain Tony Adams after he conquered his own problems. Smith made a welcome return to the highest level of the game but fell foul of the authorities when she called English women's football as a "joke". Aged 32, she plays for Boston Breakers in the US.

The tough girl: Abby Wambach

Dispelling myths that the woman's game lacks the Vinnie Jones factor, Abby Wambach, the youngest of seven siblings, recalls how her brothers would fire ice-hockey pucks at her to use her for target practice when she was growing up in New York. Today, at the age of 31, she is the face of the US team, its most physical and imposing player, and second-top scorer.

The golden girl: Jessica Landstrom

While five members of the German under-20 team recently posed for Playboy, the sport's original pin-up was – and still is – Swedish striker Jessica Landström. But while one imagines that marketing deals and goals would add up to riches, her salary would perhaps not impress David Beckham. Although she is among the sport's top earners, her then record-breaking deal to join Swedish club Linköpings amounted to $3,000 a month. The 26-year-old's private life is the subject of intense internet speculation, where she regularly tops polls for the game's "hottest star". Since she plays in Germany for the Frauen-Bundesliga team 1.FFC Frankfurt, she can be assured of more attention over the next month.

The villain: Birgit Prinz

For years, England's men's team were haunted by the beguiling skills of Diego "Hand of God" Maradona. The Three Lionesses, meanwhile, must contend with their own nemesis in the guise of Germany's most-capped player, who is a household name back home. Prinz, 33, is a physical therapist with a degree from Frankfurt University. She scored twice to help to crush England 6-2 in the Euro 2009 final.

The tough girl II: Faye White

England skippers of all kinds have long enjoyed a lionheart tradition. Faye White is no exception, proving time and again her right to sport the captain's armband. During the course of her career, she has suffered cruciate ligament damage in both knees and has had her nose broken four times while serving the national side. But the 31-year-old is pragmatic. "If you're playing at the highest level, you have to be competitive. This means, at times, aggression," she says. She insists she will carry on regardless, adding: "Pain is only temporary and I can take that. You don't get this far and wimp out."

The special one: Marta Vieira da Silva

Proving that the women's game is doomed to be defined by comparison to the men's, Marta Vieira da Silva is often dubbed "Pele in a skirt". In the tradition of great Brazilian footballers, she is known by one name, "Marta", and is the leading exponent in scoring spectacular goals. A five-times Fifa World Player of the Year and winner of the coveted Ballon d'Or, the 25-year-old frequently draws comparisons with Lionel Messi. Vieira da Silva finished top scorer at the 2007 World Cup with seven goals.

The especially controversial one: Genoveva Añonma

Even with all its superinjunctions, the men's game has never courted a controversy such as this. "I am fast and strong, but I know that I am definitely a woman," the Equatorial Guinea skipper explained after rivals from Nigeria alleged that she was in fact a man – one of three it was claimed the tiny African nation fielded last year. A gender test proved Añonma was indeed a woman and, as if to confirm matters, she was included in Esquire magazine's Sexiest Woman Alive Atlas.

The male WAG: Adam Feeley

The Habs (Husbands and Boyfriends) are not a phenomenon the women's sport knows, but there is one superstar in his own right cheering from the touchline. Adam Feeley, an NFL quarterback with the St Louis Rams, supports his wife Heather Mitts, a defender for the US team and a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Feeley's on-off relationship with Mitts, voted's Hottest Female Athlete, delighted sports fans and US tabloids alike. They married last February.

The bisexual trailblazer: Nadine Angerer

As the men's game struggles with the issue of homosexuality, Germany's veteran goalkeeper Nadine Angerer broke the women's sport's own taboo last year by revealing that she was bisexual. "I am very open about this, because I am of the opinion there are nice guys and nice women," she told Die Zeit. "Besides, I find it totally silly to have a general definition." The 32-year-old is now hoping to win her third World Cup with the national team.

The psychic cephalopod: Lola the Octopus

After last year's psychic success from Paul the Octopus, who "predicted" all seven of his country's results in the men's World Cup, the hunt has been on for a suitable replacement for the women's version of the event. Already described as "intelligent" and a "fast learner", Lola has been exciting German hopes of similarly prescient powers from her tank in the Munich Sea Life Centre.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Media Sales - OTE up to £30,000

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning company, whi...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique & exciting opp...

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Day In a Page

A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935