MOENCHENGLADBACH, Germany – United States goalkeeper Hope Solo's stunning looks and game-saving heroics in Sunday's penalty shootout victory over Brazil have seen her attract a legion of new fans and emerge as the star of this Women's World Cup. All eyes will be on her when the Americans face France in Wednesday's semifinal.
None more so than those of local venture capitalist Stefan Pfister.
The 43-year-old from Dusseldorf plans to ask Solo to marry him with an elaborate banner that he will bring to the Borussia Park in Western Germany for the big game.
"Hope Solo is a beautiful woman and a wonderful athlete," Pfister told Yahoo! Sports. "She shows that you can be feminine and athletic and the best in your chosen sport. I saw during the last game that a fan had written a banner which proposed marriage so I am going to do the same, except that mine will be bigger and better.
"I am not necessarily expecting a positive response but it is a genuine offer," added Pfister, who claims to have homes in five different countries. "I just want to show my appreciation for her class as a person and ability as a footballer."
Solo is quickly getting used to the swathe of attention directed at her. NBA superstar Kevin Durant insisted on Monday that he would be naming any daughter he had after the 29-year-old keeper, while German newspapers and television broadcasters have devoted countless column inches and airtime to feature stories on her.
Male attention is nothing new for Solo. She accepts it as part of the job and a byproduct of the USA squad's dramatic increase in profile over the past week.
"I am a realist," she told Yahoo! Sports. "I know how the world works and I know how men work. Part of our job is to bring attention to the game and raise the levels of attention, however that is.
"First and foremost is my play on the field and my contributions to this team. Anything else comes second to that."
Solo's fearless play in goal has established her as arguably the leading keeper in the women's game.
"I have been kicked in the face," said Solo, who plays her club soccer for Florida-based WPS side magicJack. "I have been in a fight on the field. I have been punched. There are things that happen all the time that the referee does not see."
The quarterfinal against Brazil was an ill-tempered affair in which the South Americans repeatedly infuriated the crowd by diving, time-wasting and feigning injury. Wednesday's clash promises to be played in a better spirit against a talented France team that is usually content to rely on skill rather than force.
The USA is a heavy favorite, although the sublime talents of mercurial French playmaker Louisa Necib will ensure Solo has plenty to keep her occupied while her army of admirers look on from the stands.
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- Hope Solo