Chelsea star Ann-Katrin Berger beat cancer twice – now she's heading to the World Cup and could face her Lioness partner | The Sun

NOT many players can say that they've represented their country at a World Cup.

Even fewer can say that they've done so off the back of a double-winning season.

But only one will be able to say that they've done all of the above after beating cancer… twice.

Chelsea goalkeeper Ann-Katrin Berger has enjoyed some of the highest of highs throughout her playing career, but she has also had to endure some terrible lows.

In November 2017, just over one year into her spell with Birmingham City, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

Despite her devastating diagnosis, Berger was determined to continue playing football.

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She even earned a spot in the PFA Team of the Year at the end of the 2017-18 campaign, just two months after recovering.

And the following year, she made a huge move to Women's Super League giants Chelsea.

Career-wise, the 32-year-old is at the top of her game, having won four WSL titles, three FA Cups and two Continental Cups with the Blues.

Berger's incredible form saw her earn a place in Germany's Euro 2022 squad last summer, but her immense joy – after being called up for her first major tournament – was marred when she found out that her cancer had returned following four years in remission.

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She has since recovered and helped Chelsea to the WSL title and another FA Cup winCredit: Getty
Berger received support from her international teammates last SeptemberCredit: Getty

The goalkeeper told Sky Sports in November: "It had actually started at the beginning of July.

"We came [together] with the German national team [for the Euros] on July 3 and my yearly appointment was on July 5.

"It was a little bit of a weird feeling because it was the last one of the normal appointments, but then the blood samples came back negative in thyroid cancer language.

"Whilst the Euros were still ongoing, I had to do some other tests and the next step after the blood test. Most of the time, it was ultrasounds so they're checking any lymph nodes or unusual things and that was one week after.

"After that, I started to wonder what was going on because sometimes, the bloods can go up and down, that's a normal thing, especially with athletes when hormones and everything are different.

"But then after the ultrasound, they called me again and I had to go in and they took a biopsy as well. Then I was like 'Ok, something bad is going on', but I still wanted to carry on with football.

"At that point, we'd finished the group stages and I wanted to keep it to myself. Obviously close ones, my family and everything, they started to know something was wrong but at that time, my team didn't know because they had to focus on the Euros.

"I know how to deal with it because I've been there before so that's why I started to keep it to myself. The doctors gave me the all-clear to train as normal and said there wouldn't be any problems."

Berger waited until the latter stages of Euro 2022 to inform her international teammates of her diagnosis, simply because she wanted to enjoy the tournament as much as possible.

She added: "It was a difficult moment, but I kept it a little bit more quiet. I wanted to enjoy the Euros for myself because that kept me going – it actually was just nice to do something and not feel sorry for yourself."

In August, Berger announced to the world that her cancer had returned.

In a statement on social media, she wrote: "I wanted to update fans directly that unfortunately, after four years of living cancer-free, there has been a recurrence detected in my thyroid."

Despite the devastating setback, she remarkably returned to action just over a month later, featuring in Chelsea's WSL clash against Manchester City.

And in March she was hailed as a hero after saving two penalties which subsequently sent the Blues through to the Champions League semi-final.

Four months on from that electric evening at Stamford Bridge, Berger is now in Australia and New Zealand for her first World Cup.

The goalkeeper has already lifted the WSL trophy and the FA Cup this year, but now she has her sights firmly set on arguably the biggest accolade in football.

However, in order to win the World Cup, Berger and her Germany teammates will have to get past European champions England.

And that means the goalkeeper will have to better her girlfriend, and Chelsea teammate, Jess Carter.

The couple started dating in 2017 and they now live together in London.

But while they represent two different nations, there is little-to-no rivalry between them.

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In an interview with The Guardian last year, Carter said: "There wasn’t really any direct competition [during the Euros] because we are both really chilled people."

Germany kick off their World Cup campaign against Morocco on July 24, while England face Haiti on July 22nd.

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