FC Bayern First Training Session in Bundesliga 12/13
Let’s welcome the new boys:
Tom Starke, Lukas Raeder, Claudio Pizarro, Dante, Emre Can, Xherdan Shaqiri and Mitchell Weiser
Having been sidelined with various injuries, Bastian Schweinsteiger is back in action, fulfilling the role that head coach Joachim Löw expects him to play together with Philipp Lahm – that of team leader. In this interview with DFB.de writer Steffen Lüdeke, Schweinsteiger talks about why he loves the seaside, how he sees himself as part of the German team, and about Germany’s chances at EURO 2012.
team.dfb.de: Bastian, on your afternoon off, you went for a stroll through Gdansk…
Schweinsteiger: …and I loved every minute of it! It made for a welcome change from daily routine, and I think it’s important for us players to not just stay in the hotel but also try to learn something new about the region or the city you’re in, and for a comparatively long time at that. In South Africa, for example, we went on guided tours, first of Johannesburg, later Cape Town. And as the result against Argentina confirmed – it didn’t do us any harm at all!
team.dfb.de: You are known to like cafés and the sea, so Gdansk must be right after your own heart.
Schweinsteiger: Absolutely! I like the old part of town, and Sopot of course, a young, modern seaside resort. I love the sea – there’s this gorgeous scent of summer in the air, the sun shines, it’s warm, and everybody’s relaxed.
team.dfb.de: Is there any philosophical side to it, too? The fact that man, when confronted with the vastness of the sea, deems himself small and insignificant?
Schweinsteiger: That too. Spending time at the sea has a soothing effect on me, as has a trip to the Bavarian mountains. I like going on hiking tours, you get rewarded with breathtaking views from the summit.
team.dfb.de: You come across as very focussed. Can you take your mind off football during a tournament?
Schweinsteiger: Yes, I can, and being able to do that is hugely important. At a tournament, I think about football almost all the time, so change and variation are a must for me. It’s the same back home in Munich. I like the hustle and bustle of the city, but sometimes I need a bit of peace and quiet. I need both worlds: the thrill and excitement of football, but also the reassuring ordinariness of “normal life”.
team.dfb.de: According to Bayern team-mates Holger Badstuber and Philipp Lahm, losing to Chelsea FC in the Champions League final did have a positive effect, after all – their hunger to succeed, they said, was greater than ever before.
Schweinsteiger: I had been feeling that hunger long before the actual match, basically from the moment I heard that Munich would host the final. I have learnt how to cope with losing that match, though. We’ve lost the game for a reason.
team.dfb.de: So you’re holding your head in despair?
Schweinsteiger: Not any more. You see, had we done everything right and still lost the game, it would have been much harder to come to terms with it. But that’s not how it was. In football, winning or losing depends on a host of little details. Chelsea certainly were not the most creative of sides, but they made the most of what they’re good at. Luck, as some people have suggested, didn’t really come into it, except of course in the penalty shoot-out.
team.dfb.de: So everything was meant to be that way?
Schweinsteiger: Let’s just say that there were two potential stories waiting to be told. These could have been ‘the first club to win the UEFA Champions League final on home turf, fielding a very young team’, or alternatively ‘the trophy goes to a team of older players unlikely to experience such a big event again, after tragically losing the final four years ago on penalties’.
team.dfb.de: Has this increased the pressure on you winning something at the Euros?
Schweinsteiger: How do you define pressure? We’re all living privileged lives. People in need, people fighting for sheer survival, they’re under real pressure. For me, this tournament is something of a trial, a huge challenge to show what we’re capable of, to go to the max. If we manage to play to our full potential on a consistent basis, we can lift the trophy, it’s as simple as that. But that’s not what I would call pressure.
team.dfb.de: Would you agree if I said that in 2010, the team thrived on enthusiasm, whereas now it’s primarily efficiency?
Schweinsteiger: Not necessarily. Don’t forget that the group matches in South Africa were anything but easy, with the game against Ghana being the first make-or-break “final”. Also, the matches against England and Argentina were not all lightness of being, it’s just that we managed to take the lead early, and that made things much easier. I hope we’ll soon re-discover our rhythm here at this championship.
team.dfb.de: Imagine the Germany of 2010 playing against the current team; who’d come out the winner?
Schweinsteiger: We had a good team then, and we’ve got a good team now. The difference is that in South Africa, some ten players were experiencing their first major tournament. These guys are back again, but they’ve changed and are far better versed in the do’s and don’ts of tournament football, knowing what to do to be successful.
team.dfb.de: That goes for you as well, doesn’t it, as one of the key players?
Schweinsteiger: Yes, but the role of ‘leader’ is one I have always been ready to assume. Everybody must shoulder part of the overall responsibility, but it takes players who show the direction and find the right words to say. That’s not an easy thing to do.
team.dfb.de: Above all mentally speaking.
Schweinsteiger: Thank you for saying that! Because I didn’t use to think so when I was young. I heard players like Michael Ballack, Oliver Kahn, and Jens Lehmann saying how energy-sapping everything was and, truth be told, I didn’t take them seriously at all. But now I’m going through the same kind of experience. During a match, you’ve got to take in a million details, focus on countless things at the same time, so much so that after matches, I feel this tremendous fatigue, not necessarily physical but mental. Take the Champions League semi-final in Madrid, or the recent match against Denmark. You won’t believe how tired I was! What’s more, I don’t just play for myself, but for 82 million Germans. When you feel you owe it to them to perform as best as you can, you need a lot of energy.
team.dfb.de: How do you prepare yourself mentally for such challenges?
Schweinsteiger: I like drawing on the experience of people who need to handle extreme situations, such as (the German downhill skier) Felix Neureuther, who’s a good friend of mine. For two minutes’ racing down a slope, he’s got be focussed 1,000 percent. I’ve done my fair share of downhill races, and I know how it is – you’re waiting for your turn in the second round, you hear how those before you finish in record time, and you know you just mustn’t make even the slightest mistake!
team.dfb.de: So you seek other top athletes’ advice?
Schweinsteiger: Yes, but not just people in sports. There are many other people I know who’ve mastered a lot of challenges. But the group of people who really understand me, is quite small.
team.dfb.de: Is this something you regret?
Schweinsteiger: Well, that’s just the way it is. Only few people can really appreciate what it’s like to play at this level. Most of the fans out there only see the climax, the goal, and they adore the goal-scorer, which is perfectly okay. But I love exchanges with real experts, the ones who grasp the importance of, say, recovering possession in mid-field, or of a player moving into space at just the right moment in time. For example, when discussing Barcelona, the great majority of people will say that Xavi and Iniesta are their most important players.
Schweinsteiger: But for me, this is Carles Puyol. He’s the head of the team, he leads by example, even though some of his team-mates look the more skilled footballers.
team.dfb.de: What would you say is key for the German team’s success?
Schweinsteiger: That we have a consistent philosophy we believe in, from the team and the coaching staff to the doctors, physios, and administrators. We’re a tight unit, no-one’s afraid to say his opinion to the others’ faces because he can be sure nothing will get out of the dressing room. We have a great sense of togetherness.
team.dfb.de: Three wins from as many group matches – a perfect record so far.
Schweinsteiger: Yes, I’m more than happy, but events could have taken a different turn – van Persie nearly opened the score, Jakob Poulsen hit the post. It wasn’t all plain sailing. If we manage to learn the right lessons from these situations, we’ll come out a better team, exerting more dominance and wasting less energy in the process.
team.dfb.de: Did you watch Spain playing against Croatia?
Schweinsteiger: Yes, and before you ask – I’m glad for Spain to have progressed to the next round, simply because they’re a top team. Sure, they’re a major rival to be up against, and had they been eliminated, a huge obstacle would be out of the way… But I want to play against, and possibly beat, the best possible opponents. I like doing it the hard way. Having said that, I wouldn’t refuse the trophy if Spain were out of the running (laughs).
team.dfb.de: You recently raid that to beat Spain, Germany would have to do it “the German way”…
Schweinsteiger: By that I mean showing commitment, fighting spirit, absolute willpower, and passion – just the kind of qualities we’re being envied for by many people. Interestingly, foreigners applaud us for what some people back home tend to put down. The good thing is, we’ve also added a great dose of skill to the mix, and we have intelligent, technically gifted players.
team.dfb.de: First things first, though. Greece await you in the quarter-final.
Schweinsteiger: Yes, and it’ll be ever so hard to play against an opponent who’s likely to sit deep and play on the counter. We have great respect for the Greeks, especially as many “experts” were saying they didn’t stand a chance of progressing from their group. We mustn’t under-estimate them, and we hope that fans in Germany realise that we’re anything but through yet!
team.dfb.de: What exactly are you trying to say?
Schweinsteiger: That we need them! It’s just fantastic how they’ve supported us. I mean in the game against Denmark, they were singing practically throughout the second half, urging us on no end, until we finally scored that second goal. Knowing that fans in Germany and in the stadiums stand behind us as one, is tremendously important for a team as young as ours. And I’ll be happy if they go on rooting for us, even if the going is tough, or we beat Greece by 1-0 “only.”
team.dfb.de: How do you go into a match like this?
Schweinsteiger: With a great sense of anticipation. And it’s getting bigger by the day. After three wins, we’re full of self-confidence. I am just dying to get out there and play the ‘perfect’ game. Let’s hope we get as close as possible to that on Friday.
German newspaper <World Online> series
<The School Life Of The German National Team Players>
Part 5 - Bastian Schweinsteiger: Older girls’ favourite
Original Article in German 2012.5.28
Bastian Schweinsteiger arranged everything for football career at an early age, and he used to throw water bombs at others.
Before settling down for good grades, each morning Bastian Schweinsteiger goes out and rate girls. He often sits down with his friend Wolfgang Lagler at the window of the classroom and looks at the girls who get off the Schoolbus. “We then made a joke before the first lesson, and also made a small rank,” says Lagler.
Which is good? Which is very good? Which is the best? And then come the classic questions: Is this not the sister of one of your friends? What’s her name? How do we get the number? Long before Heidi Klum becomes “Germany’s Next Top Model”, those friends who’s in their puberty in the late 90s, cast their own lists. “We have talked a lot about that age girls, in a quite harmless way, just as boys do. It was a great time,” said Lagler.
He then goes to Dientzenhofer school with today’s national player of FC Bayern Munich in Brannenburg near Rosenheim. It is a state school. About 800 young people from the nearby countryside study here. Luftkurtort, which is in Upper Bavaria, has just 5800 inhabitants and is situated idyllically. The students can look at the farm and mountain pastures during the break.
Lagler plays football with Schweinsteiger in 1860 Rosenheim. The sport is their life. Their parents make a driving shifts plan, so as to enable them to come in time for workouts and games. Both guys are very talented,and the Association calls them regularly to participate in the Upper Bavarian selection. When they win the Indoor Champions Cup, Bastian’s father Fred, invites the team to a lunch at McDonalds. “We had almost got more excited about it than about the Cup, and Bastian ate a burger too,” says Lagler.
This is an exception. Even then Schweinsteiger has begun to pay a lot of attention to his diet. When a player from another school was smoking behind the cabin, he is warming up already. Specifically, he has to do exercises to stretch the muscles, and unlike many of his classmates, he has got a clear vision of his future. “It was clear to him that he wants to be a professional football player,” says Kurt Ebner. He taught Schweinsteiger from 7th Grade to 9th Grade in Sports. Schweinsteiger is good at horizontal bar and the parallel bar, and even better at football.
His skills on the ball as well as his character impress Ebner. Schweinsteiger has always been very disciplined, ambitious and humble at the same time. And he is tremendously clever in physical learning and school team. “He always made sure not to get injured. Basti knew exactly which battle he must withdraw, because otherwise it would be dangerous,” said Ebner. And he never plays recklessly. Schweinsteiger is able to solve any situation with a ball pass.
Like his parents, Bastian also likes skiing very much, and even races against Felix Neureuther, who later became a professional skier and also a Champion). If asked in his home village, people would say that Schweinsteiger had often been better. “Basti had to choose between two careers, either Skiing or football, and he opted for football,” said his former classmates Lagler.
When he gets 13 years old, Schweinsteiger begin playing for Bayern. His mother send him to training four times a week. It’s 83 km away from his home and it takes an hour to get there, and another hour to get back. His father, who used to play football in Austria, does training with his son and requires him to use his weaker left foot to shot. He owns a shop in Oberaudorf, which called “Schweinsteiger Sport.” His son learns from him that time management is crucial. And he manages to organize his life. Homework was not always easy, but he forces himself to finish.
Despite the high burden, his school grades remain stable. They are not outstanding, but never disturbing. And he remains a nice person. Of course, he get wild sometimes. Once he throws a water bomb on the niece of a teacher. That girl is still proud of it.
Any show-off? “Never,” said his former teacher. He never wears Bayern training suits or Bayern T-shirts in school. “He has never made a big issue out of it,” says Lagler. But of course it gets around the school that Schweinsteiger is special. “Especially the older girls said many times that Bastian is sweet! And he has already played its part in Bayern, too!” And yet there is something getting different: Schweinsteiger’s language. His music teacher Alois Plomer notices at that time that “his Bavarian accent is disappearing.” In the club, he now speaks with young people from all over Germany and he shall adapts to their language. “I once asked him: ‘Basti, where has the Bavarian accent gone?’ Then he grinned and said, ‘! The other players in the club have to understand what I say.’”
He hardly got time to go to parties in these years. When others come out of the disco, the alarm clock rings at the Schweinsteiger -it’s time to get ready for the next game. At birthday parties, when his relatives and friends are drinking beer, he only drinks apple juice or water. Although There are also some other good football players in the town, but no one has got such strong self-discipline.
He is becoming an increasingly better player. At the age of 16, he decides to move to Munich. He then lives in the FC Bayern soccer boarding school in the big city and goes on whith his middle school study.
As Schweinsteiger is no longer his student, his PE teacher Ebner once recognizes him riding bike on the way back from a football game. “He waved to me. he would have only made a few changes. A lot of guys are hard to recognize after school life.” This is the typical Schweinsteiger.
His former buddy Lagler is now the marketing director of a sporting goods manufacturer. He still plays football, but different from Schweinsteiger, he only plays in leisure time for SV Nussdorf in the district league. The contact with Schweinsteiger is eventually demolished. “But I’m happy every time he wins a game. Hopefully the Championship.”
The Dietzenhofer School now strives for that very reason, to get an original Schweinsteiger jersey. It should be framed and hung in the hallway of the school building. Before the town hall, Schweinsteiger has already been perpetuated, the mayor had Schweinsteige cast in bronze the footprints and place it in front of the entrance.
Schweinsteiger - this name is well spread in Oberaudorf: among those who are currently attending the school, four students got the same name with Bavaria professionals, also including Sven Bender (Borussia Dortmund) and his brother Lars (Bayer Leverkusen). The Basti, as referred to the one in our school, hopefully will become another professional football player in ten years.
Music teacher Alois Plomer has developed a trick to occupy the first row seats which are traditionally unpopular. “There used to sit the Basti Schweinsteiger, I always say.” He points to the front desk on the left. “And within seconds, the seat is occupied,” the teacher laughs at once.