Die Welt has published a series of articles that talk about the National Team. In particular, they focus on the player’s childhood, and there are certainly some interesting stories. Without further ado, here is one about Lahm in his teenage years. I found it to be insightful and interesting, and I am happy that we get another glimpse into his life prior to the beginning of his career. [If you wish to enlarge the picture, follow the link to the original.]
Not A “Chav”- Lahm wanted to become a baker
By Julien Wolff
The teacher opens the door and looks at Philipp Lahm furiously. A student has played a trick on her: knocked on the door and ran away. That day she already fell for it twice, and now she wants to catch the prankster at last. She believes Lahm to be the culprit, but he just happens to stand before her office door. At the wrong place, at the wrong time. The teacher is about to start yelling at him when she sees a boy running away at the end of the corridor. She and Lahm look at each other and laugh.
Later in his life, Lahm would be pretty often at the right place at the right time. And that has brought him the captaincy of FC Bayern and the German National Team.
Already in his school years, it was evident that he had what it takes to have a great career. “Philipp was an intelligent boy and very admired by his peers at school,” says Bernd Mainhardt. He was Lahm’s homeroom teacher at the Rudolf-Diesel Junior High School in Munich, from the 7th to the 10th grade. Mainhardt witnessed Lahm’s growth from 12 to 16 years old. A difficult age. Puberty. Many temptations. And the questions: Who am I? Where am I going? Who do I want to be?
As a kid, Lahm wanted to be a baker. Then a banker. As a young soccer player, “he repeatedly made it clear: I want to make the professional team,” says Mainhardt. And already back then, [he] lived accordingly.
The School Should Not Be Neglected
Lahm comes from a football family: his mother, Daniela, was a youth director; his father, Roland, played for the Freien Turnerschaft in Gern. Thus, Lahm started playing football as a kid and became a player for FC Bayern already at the age of 11. The education, which was important to his parents, should not be neglected. He transferred from the Middle School on Alfonsstraße to the Rudolf-Diesel Junior High School and made friends very fast.
In the class photo of the 10A, Lahm stands with his buddies, arm in arm. Last row, a cool glance, casual attitude: nowadays, fellow students would describe him as “Checker” [it’s similar to the British “chav”. I couldn’t find the equivalent in American English. Something like a macho.] An observer would assume him to be a tough-talking one, a daredevil.
All that is not Lahm – and back then he wasn’t. “He was always very humble and friendly,” recounts Mainhardt. Usually, bad boys prefer to sit in the back of a classroom – Lahm sat in the front, the second row. Sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left. When he looks back at those days, the National Team player jokes that already at that time he was flexible, as nowadays in the four-man defensive line. He never skipped school. On the last day of school he ate a warm meat loaf sandwich. After that, his friends would go to a swimming pool or the English Garden – Lahm would go to training. And when he went out with his friends in the evenings, he came back home in a hour at the latest. Discipline is important, Lahm knew that.
An Article in the School Newspaper
He was very successful with FC Bayern’s youth team. When he was 16 years old, an article about him appeared in the school newspaper. It said: Bavarian Indoor Champion, Munich Champion, as well as the international titles. Moreover, “football equipment and lunch, as well as tutors, shall be provided by FC Bayern” and “free tickets for every home game”. At the time, Lahm was a ball boy at the Olympiastadion. Once, he proudly told his mother how he threw a ball to Markus Babbel.
His success with FC Bayern and popularity at school [the fact that he was admired, not the popularity in the American sense of the word] also provoked envy. There was a student in another class who said to Mainhardt, “He isn’t that good!” His homeroom teacher, too, didn’t trust Lahm to make his dream come true. Mainhardt held a parent-teacher conference with Lahm’s mother, Daniela. It came down to the following question: shouldn’t Philipp first learn something useful? Go to college after graduating? Mainhardt’s opinion was, “Yes!” From the bottom of his heart, he wished Lahm to be successful as a football player. However, the dreams of so, so many had been shattered.
Nevertheless, Lahm’s family supported his career aspirations. He played on the Youth National Team and traveled a lot. Yet, he demonstrated solid results at school. Three times a week he worked with a tutor on his homework at the club, the so-called “study time”. Sometimes other students copied the homework from Lahm. His favorite subjects were math and, of course, sport. Lahm apparently had nothing against the binomial formula and the rule of three, was he also a nerd? “No,” says Mainhardt, “he simply enjoyed the class.” But not always. He didn’t like the history class at all. In German class, they had to read a commentary on the first page in a newspaper. Philipp Lahm preferred the sports section.
Lahm Admitted Everything
Once, he decided to play a prank and hid the jacket of a classmate in a closet. The boy got upset and complained to the teacher. She threatened him and Lahm that they would not go to the school camp. Hence, Lahm admitted everything, and the matter was resolved.
Lahm loved school trips. One time they were supposed to travel to Austria. The teachers organized a whitewater rafting tour, he was thrilled but sad at the same time because they would miss the Oktoberfest. Along with his buddies, he talked to the teacher over and over to see if they could postpone the trip. Finally, they found a restaurant where there was Oktoberfest beer. After all. [Niiiice! Philipp’s got persuasion skills.]
Just recently, Lahm played in the Champions League Final in Munich in front of 60,000 people at the arena and over 200 million TV viewers in over 200 countries. Playing football in front of a great number of people was never a problem. The precedent [for a performance in public] was set much earlier. In German class, he sometimes had to recite a poem and knew only the title. Lahm says that, contrary to the sport, things weren’t always certain in that domain.
A “4” in German And English
On his final exams, he got a “4” (“sufficient”: the lowest passing grade) in German and English, in Math and Physics – a “3” (“satisfactory”). [But he sure is super-eloquent.] He now had his secondary school certificate and concentrated fully – against Mainhardt’s advice – on football. In 2002, he played his first official match in the first team of FC Bayern and then made the starting lineup in VfB Stuttgart.
Mainhardt called the Lahms and said that they were right. Philipp made it. The teacher apologized for his past advice. Lahm finds it to be a great gesture. And Mainhardt is proud every time he sees Lahm play. He says, “It is a pleasure to have taught him.”
It is strictly forbidden to use this translation without my consent.
The article also says that although Lahm was popular at school, he got his first serious girlfriend when he was 17 years old. [Frankly, sounds good to me. Dating at 14 is not the best way to go, in my opinion.]
Well, it is no wonder that he has become who he is.