Lahm’s Interview To SportBild

With a new season almost here, the question that is on everybody’s mind is in what direction Bayern will go under Lahm’s leadership with Bastian as vice-captain. SportBild interviewed Lahm… mostly about the leadership question. (It seems people just cannot let it go.) However, it is a very good interview with interesting questions. I do not think that what Lahm says here needs my commentary, thus here are several parts of the interview with some little remarks (in purple). I did leave out two questions pertaining to Ballack and his relationship with Löw because the issue has already been discussed many times before. 

Football Players Must Not Show Any Weakness (interview by Christian Falk, which can partially be found here or here; however, I did my translation based on the original (printed) source)

– The captains’ duo Lahm/Schweinsteiger is about to begin its first season. In the second half [of last season], the new leadership could not make Bayern come in second and directly qualify for the Champions League. Are you going to continue with your style of leadership or have you questioned it?

Lahm: When you come in third with sorrow and distress, everyone must question himself. Bastian and I know that we, as captains, are still in a state where we have to gain experience. That is clear. However, [the fact] that our leadership, on the other hand, is the right one, has been demonstrated not only at the World Cup 2010.

– What was your last contact with Michael Ballack who once was the captain of the DFB?

Lahm: It was about the bonus negotiations for the EURO 2012. Over the phone, normal, collegiate.

– Did you talk to the ex-captain of FC Bayern, Mark van Bommel, at the Audi Cup?

Lahm: Briefly and only on the pitch. “Hello”, and that was it.

I found that funny.

– You are the successor of both. SPORT BILD called you the “Capitano-Killer”. How important is the power instinct in football?

Lahm: Power is always the wrong word for it. It is correct that one needs to have influence. At least this is what important to me. [Exerting] influence on the club where [in which] I grew up. [Exerting] influence on the team with whom I want to reach new heights. That equally applies to the National Team. But in order to be successful, I need other players. That I now have more responsibility, thanks to my duties, and more influence on what is happening, is nice for me, but it also is a big commitment.

– Nonetheless, one does not become captain of FC Bayern and the National Team simply by being friendly.

Lahm: No, obviously not. I am also known for communicating my opinion in an open and clear way to coaches or those in charge. The basis, however, for both departments remains and will always be the fact that you bring your performance. That is always the most important [factor]. And that I have done over the course of many years.

– Nevertheless, the power games always accompany decisions about the captaincy. Has the cliche “You must be eleven friends” gotten old?

Lahm: I do not know if the idea of “you have to be eleven friends” has ever existed in a team. I am not friends with all 10, 18 or 22 players. My best friend on the team, Andreas Ottl, has left for Berlin. Real football friendships are an exception in the football business. That does not change the fact that we all have the same goal and work toward accomplishing it. We want to be successful together, but there will never be 11 true friends. Perhaps, it was like that some time ago. But I cannot imagine that. 

Are there people who believe that everyone should be friends with everyone else? I hope not.

– Therefore, being on the team, does a football player have to be a strong man?

Lahm: I do not believe that a football player may show any weakness. There is too much at stake for individual players. A player, who is not in the starting line-up, will always try to take advantage of a starter’s weakness. Of course, being successful as a team is a top priority. Nevertheless, every player also wants to be successful individually. That is why we are not allowed any weaknesses. Speaking more clearly, it’s like in the past, when gladiators fought against each other. It is all about defeating the other. Today, a spectator come to the stadium to watch one team defeat the other.

Wow. He sure knows how to explain things.

– Do you feel that your image has become more edgy?

Lahm: I notice that through little things. Suddenly, I am not everybody’s darling anymore. You just have to make decisions and give clear opinions as a captain of the National Team or that of FC Bayern. If somebody has a different opinion, I have no problem with it.

Well, you cannot please everyone. “Everybody’s darling” is too much for any person.

– Both Ballack and van Bommel were annoyed by your statements about wanting to be captain.

Lahm: I do not know about that. Personally, I view it as a rather positive thing if somebody wants to lead as captain. I also know that Bastian Schweinsteiger would love to be captain. I do not have a problem with that. We both came out of the youth team, understand each other, and have the same interests. If he now said, ‘I would like to be captain rather  than a vice-captain’, I would understand that.

Good one!

– Does it bother you that van Bommel does not miss an opportunity to talk about Schweinsteiger as the first captain for FC Bayern in every interview?

Lahm: (laughs) Not at all. I can look very calmly at such utterances. I even know that Bastian does a good job. I am only surprised that everyone has a desire to bring up his [Mark’s] opinion in every interview.

Great answer from Lahm! They bring it up because they want to see how you will react ahaha

– Both van Bommel and Ballack have a label of the “alpha male” [alpha leader] on them. Does today’s football generation reject this style of leadership?

Lahm: If one takes a look at the world’s leading clubs and national teams, one sees that a typical “alpha male” no longer exists. Whether the German or Spanish National Team, FC Barcelona or Manchester United – there has been a change everywhere. In football, it is like in a society: one wants and must involve everyone in order to be successful.


In Bayern, you have one more responsibility as captain than on the National Team: you have to prepare a penalty code. How much progress has been made?

Lahm: It happened very fast. It is not like we write it down point by point. We have set up general rules that everyone should follow. There will be no penalty per minute for being late. However, the following is clear: whoever comes very late to training, to a match, or a team meeting, pays. Then we, the captains, collect the money. 

(c) unavis. Any use of this translation without my permission and/or a link to this blog is forbidden.



  1. Well, as his huge fan, I think this interview is … not so typical of Philipp Lahm. Well, I don’t know how to express my feelings exactly, just..his responses to some questions kind of surprised me. Thank you for your wonderful translation!

    1. Jessie ~

      Could you, please, elaborate? For example, I, myself, think that it actually is quite typical =) It’s clear-cut, and he basically says the stuff he has said before.

      Which ones of his responses surprised you? In what way? It would be an interesting discussion.

      1. When talking about “11 friends”, he could have said: Well, I think you don’t need to be close friends to win games. But we get along very well with one another, blablabla, just as he would say in normal interviews. I mean, we all know that a person can’t be friends with every colleague, and that’s why true friendship is greatly valued. But he did not have to spill out the truth so bluntly. He could have given the information in a more tactful way.

  2. I mean, if anyone on his team said to a reporter next time in an interview: “Well, I think true friendship does exist in today’s football field and I have a lot of true friends.”, that would put him in a kind of embarassing situation. Outsiders may begin to doubt his people skills.

    1. Don’t worry, Jessie =)) He also said “Ottl is my best friend”. That’s true friendship, isn’t it?
      However, I do hope the press wouldn’t ask other players about this kind of questions …

    2. Jessie~

      Thanks a lot for elaborating! I can totally see where you’re coming from. I’m going to try to being concise in writing my answer ahaha.

      1. I’d like to point out that Lahm doesn’t say true friendships do not exist in football. He says it’s an exception, which is a different thing, meaning it happens but rarely. Besides, as Rui has already pointed out, his best friend on the team is Andreas, and he transferred to “Herta”. It does not mean that Lahm does not get along with people. (The article on the – “he has people’s skills”). It just means they are not close friends, which is normal. Something tells me an athlete would understand him like you and I cannot.

      2. On the subject of friendship: the definition of a friend differs all over the globe. I know for sure that what the Americans call “a friend” is not what the Germans call “a friend”, what the Russians call a “friend” isn’t the same what the Americans mean, and so on. Therefore, people sometimes can be surprised when they hear such statements (I am speaking from my personal experience here), but it just means that we all understand this concept differently, based on our cultural background. I am sure that nobody on the team got offended or something. All of them are from the same culture, they understand it.

      I have an acquaintance who isn’t German or American and who told me once, “Why didn’t Lahm invite anybody from his team to his wedding?!?!” I said that he, indeed, did invite Ottl, the person who was the closest to him. And once again I realized that people’s expectations with regard to friendship are truly different. I don’t think it was such a big deal for Bayern players =) Some of them were on vacation at that time =))

      3. About being diplomatic: from what I have seen so far, Philipp always says what he thinks. He can be less blunt and be more diplomatic when he thinks it’s truly necessary or when there are some constraints, or both. Apparently this was not the case =) Again, I really do know what you mean, and I think it confirms again the idea of people having various definitions of the same thing.

      Wow… That’s a looong answer ahaha. Anyway… Do not worry. Lahm knows what he is doing =)

  3. What a interesting interview! Thank you for the translation!
    I think he is tired of being asked about captaincy again and again, but he did great answers.

    1. You’re welcome =)

  4. might be right. i think lahm is waiting for people to stop questioning him about same stuff regarding this captaincy drama…

    about ottl, no wonder why he was the only footballer who was invited to lahm’s wedding last year.. :)

    i think mark van bommel is so annoying. he never fails to bring up this issue like he knows everything….if i had a chance to meet bommel, i would say ‘Back Off’.

    by the way, this interview was very interesting..;)

    1. I would say the same thing ahaha

  5. […] Der Kapitän Following the Phenomenon of Philipp Lahm HomePhilipp Lahm: “100 percent reason to remember the name” ← Lahm’s Interview To SportBild […]

  6. […] to mention Mark van Bommel’s words that Christian Falk and Lahm discussed in the interview to SportBild. (Lahm was right: the media cannot stop bringing up van Bommel’s opinion. It is time to let […]

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