Yesterday was the first serious match (in the German Cup) for Bayern. It is the beginning of a new season, and the DFB.de published an interview with Philipp Lahm, entitled Lahm: We Must Further Refine Our Style and conducted by the editor Steffen Lüdeke. In it, Lahm talks about a new season ahead (for Bayern) and the National Team. As the article’s title suggests, it is all about style and being yourself, – something that (perhaps, unintentionally) corresponds to Lahm. Prior to jumping to two particular questions and answers, a brief summary of the interview: when discussing Bayern, Lahm points out that every coach brings something different to the club, which means that Jupp Heynckes has his own way of training, his own tactical changes, etc.; Philipp also emphasizes the fact that the National Team should go its own way, further developing its style, and that is exactly what they have been up to. He does not believe that they should copy the Spanish National Team. He argues die Mannschaft is getting closer to being more competitive, that the team is capable of winning. Lahm thinks it is good that they have great friendlies, e.g. a coming up friendly against Brazil, that allows them to test their tactics, new players, and so on.
The word “style” certainly describes best what the interview is about. Whether a question pertains to one of the teams or Lahm himself, it is about style and a desire to be one’s own person. He talks about coaches’ different styles, about the National Teams’ styles, and about his own style. His way.
In fact, the interview opens up with the following:
“Right, left, on the pitch, and outside the arena. Philipp Lahm goes his own way. He brings his performance, he thinks for himself, has people’s skills, and is a role model. At 27, he is the captain of two ships. He wears the armband in the National Team and is meanwhile a captain of the Record Champion FC Bayern Munich.” (my translation)
I believe the readers would agree with me that, technically, it is possible to say about anyone that he or she follows his/her own path. That is true. However, we also know that we choose words to convey our ideas. Out of multiple ways of describing Lahm, the author chooses to write “Philipp Lahm goes his own way”. I would suggest he does so because he knows that they, i.e. his chosen words/phrases, define Lahm quite well. Hence, already in the opening paragraph there is an allusion to being unique, or perhaps simply being one’s own person. In addition, the interviewer finds it necessary to emphasize that Lahm “thinks for himself”. A very important quality, is it not? I believe so. Again, why choosing precisely that? Well, most likely due to the fact that it has been already mentioned by so many, therefore a quite defining characteristic. (Finally, Lahm has people’s skills. What more can you ask for?)
The following two passages illustrate the “one’s own way” idea:
DFB: This season you are the captain of both, your club and the National Team. In your youth, was there a captain that you looked up to the most – in Bayern and in the National Team?
Philipp Lahm: In the National Team, it was Lothar Matthäus. The first World Cup that I was aware of and experienced, was the World Cup in 1990 in Italy. Ever since I was six or seven years old, I have always admired Matthäus. His way of leading the team on the pitch was unique. He was always moving ahead, literally leading his teammates forward. In Bayern, Klaus Augenthaler is for me an exemplary captain. He was an exemplary professional who was highly motivated, during every training, at everything that he had to do. Thus, in his essence, he always was a Bavarian. That impressed me.
DFB: For you, is there a difference between being a captain of Bayern and [that] of the National Team?
Philipp Lahm: Not really. It is clear that in everyday work in Bayern there are pressing issues that are different from those of the National Team with which we meet only every two months. But in principle, I do not think that I am a different captain in Bayern than I am in the National Team. I make sure all the players pay attention to the matters at hand, and seek to talk things over always in a clear way and to settle them in my own way via communication.
Take a look at what Lahm points out when talking about his role models. When mentioning Matthäus, he says “his way of leading the team was unique.” Augenthaler, with his motivation, obviously stood out in Lahm’s eyes and separated himself from everyone else. In other words, Augenthaler was, for lack of a better word, unique. At least, in Lahm’s opinion. Taking all of that into consideration, it is, perhaps, no surprise that Philipp, too, has now his own style of leadership. I would argue that, in this case, being “unique” is simply being yourself, doing whatever you do your way. It goes back not only to the opening paragraph of the interview, but also to Lahm’s answer to the second question. He says, “… in my own way […]” It cannot get any clearer than that. Moreover, it makes me think of a post I made some time ago, in which I talked about how people are always eager to point out that Lahm is not like other captains in the past. Well, it all fits together, does not it? He is not like those in the past because he does not want to be. From his role models, he took what he thought was important and moved on.
As a closing remark, I am going to leave the reader with this:
Bayern and the National Team nowadays. – An approach that is different from the ones before.
Philipp Lahm. – A captain that is different from the ones before him.