I always take pleasure in reading Lahm’s interviews, and he gave one to the official DFB website yesterday. Later on, I am definitely going to comment on some of the things he says because it is so much fun. However, just for now without further due, here is the interview.
Philipp Lahm is the captain. That of the National Team and FC Bayern Munich. Football is his profession, football is his passion. However, there are other topics that he likes to discuss. Which ones? In his interview to team.dfb.de with the editor Steffen Lüdeke, he speaks of the connection between a nation and a National Team, a lack of courtesy, and of course, about the Euro qualifiers and tomorrow’s match against Belgium.
DFB: Mr. Lahm, tomorrow you and the National Team are playing against Belgium in Düsseldorf, it has come full circle. The first leg of the Euro qualifiers started in Belgium. Did you think back then that, at the end of the qualifiers, you would have an opportunity to make history with the tenth consequent victory?
Lahm: No, the draw wasn’t so easy. Our two neighbors, Belgium and Austria, and Turkey – three ambitious opponents. Nobody was thinking about ten consequent victories, not even after the victory in Belgium. In Brussels, we had to fight to win 1:0, the game was relatively close. One didn’t count on it to run so smoothly afterwards.
DFB: At a tournament, there is often a key game. Are there key games in the qualifiers?
Lahm: Several games were particularly important. The first game [was], of course. If we had lost points, we would have been immediately put under pressure. Also, the home victory against Turkey was of great importance because it allowed us to get away [in terms of standing] from our primary opponent. Furthermore, the crucial point was the victory in Austria. Then it was basically secured.
DFB: Joachim Löw has mentioned that he is surprised to see how big the [point] discrepancies are in this group. You too?
Lahm: Yes. In the beginning, people said it would come to a duel between Germany and Turkey. However, other teams have demonstrated that they can play at a similar level. That’s why our opponents has lost so many points against each other. For example, no one expects Turkey to lose in Azerbaijan. I have seen bits of that match. They were unlucky and missed four or five great chances [to score].
DFB: So, are you more surprised to see how many problems other teams have had or how successfully Germany has played?
Lahm: Both. As I have pointed out, we didn’t expect that we would win nine games out of nine. But I am also amazed at how many points our opponents have lost.
DFB: In the National Team, almost everything is running smoothly. Nevertheless, the team no longer remains “without conceding a goal” unlike FC Bayern, where the defense consists of basically the same players. Do you have an explanation for that?
Lahm: In the National Team, the balance isn’t quite at the same level as it is in FC Bayern. We score a lot of goals and are very strong in the offense. But with regard to the defense, sometimes we have coordination problems. In the match against Turkey, one could see that not everything worked out defensively the way we had hoped it would. We still have to work at it, but luckily we have several months till the European Championship in Ukraine and Poland. Just like the head coach, I’m sure that we will eliminate the remaining shortcomings during the preparation period at the latest.
DFB: When Germany won the previous European title, you were 12 years old. What do you remember about the tournament in England?
Lahm: Many, many nice things. I watched as much television as possible, shared the excitement, and crossed the fingers till the end for almost every game. Once the situation became critical. As Germany was taking on England in overtime in the semi-final, it was too late for me [to stay up], and since the game took place during the week, I had to go school the next day.
DFB: At the World Cup in 1990, you admired Lothar Matthäus’ talent. Was there a player in 1996 that you singled out?
Lahm: At the World Cup in Italy, with an amazing team, Matthäus stood out again. 1996? Perhaps, one could single out Matthias Sammer, but overall, it was a strong team performance. And, of course, the gold goal of Oliver Bierhoff in the final against the Czech Republic will be remembered forever.
DFB: In 1996, you were a player on the youth team. Was there any contact with the professional players?
Lahm: Only marginal. Of course, we witnessed the European champions Mehmet Scholl, Christian Ziege, Markus Babbel und Thomas Strunz training next to us. But they were on the main field, and we trained next to it. So, one just looked over the fence and marveled. Those were two worlds. For me, the professional football career was still very far away, but I was an avid football player, and I loved this sport.
DFB: At the same time, a football isn’t the main topic when you talk to your friends. Why not?
Lahm: Because I deal with football on everyday basis, from mornings to evenings. I like to talk about football very much, football is my passion. But I am happy that it’s not the only topic in my private life. My friends know very well that I have no desire to discuss with them why I made a pass the way I did. I believe there are many other topics that are more important in free time than football.
DFB: For example?
Lahm: Basically, private ones. What my friends have experienced, how it is going for them, how far they have come professionally. Things like that.
DFB: You put great emphasis on manners. When kids want an autograph, it sometimes happens that you tell them they could be more polite.
Lahm: I’ve been taught that. Saying “thank you” and “please”, that’s not too much to ask for. I don’t know any different. I believe that treating others with respect implies a certain civility.
DFB: Do you pay attention to those things even when it comes to your colleagues?
Lahm: Yes. But that hasn’t been needed so far. We have a team that knows very well how to communicate with each other. However, if I noticed something, I would address it. Not before the whole team, but I would talk to that person one-on-one.
DFB: Do you feel even more responsibility to do that because you are the captain?
Lahm: No. I have always demanded of myself to exemplify civility. I demand that of my teammates, expect that from the fans, and of course, expect the same of myself.
DFB: Do you agree with the idea that a nation’s character is somewhat reflected in the way its National Team plays?
Lahm: In the style of play, perhaps, too. But the demeanor of a National Team demonstrates, to a certain extent, the state of a nation. At least, that’s true for us. We are young, cheerful, energetic, polite, multicultural – those are the qualities that I would also attribute to the German society. That’s the connection. The World Cup in 2010 demonstrated that. While we played good football, we were also likable (friendly) off the pitch.
DFB: You are the captain of this likable team. Nothing against your predecessors and their teams, but is it fun to be the captain of this very team?
Lahm: It’s not like I chose it**. But I find it very good the way it is. Overall, I was lucky to become a player of the National Team at this moment. To experience the World Cup at home, which was a huge happiness for us all, I’m very grateful for that. And also for the fact that the team’s quality is so great and so many young players have come. In the past, it was rare to have that.
**Just to clarify, he means that he didn’t have a say in choosing this team (the way it is) over another team that would resemble the teams of the past. It just so happened that the team nowadays is the way it is.
DFB: It was also rare to see the similar series [of wins]. Nine matches, nine wins. How big is the ambition to win the tenth qualification game and make it perfect?
Lahm: It is a very good test for us. First and foremost, Belgium has a strong team. Second, it is all or nothing for them. And we are already in the preparation phase for the European Championship. For every player, it is about earning himself a place in the squad. Thus, we want to win this game. We have an opportunity to successfully complete a great series. Very clear: we want the tenth victory.
Any use of this translation without my permission is forbidden. © unavis