Some time ago I wrote a post about Lahm’s interview for the magazine Fit For Fun. I still do not have the original, but a certain part of the interview is available online, thus I have decided it would not be a bad idea to share what there is to share. After reading it, I think that I have to reconsider the way I approach my life :) I was always hungry for success, so that is not the problem. I think I might be lacking some clear-cut goals or something.
***Philipp Lahm In An Exclusive Interview***
By Alex Steudel, the Editor in Chief
The European Championship in Poland and Ukraine is well underway…
This championship is the fifth major tournament since 2004, in which Philipp Lahm participates with the National Team. The second in which he is the captain. He is getting close to having 100 caps and, since he’s almost never out and is only 28 years old, that means the following: he can give Lothar Matthäus, the record holder with 150 caps, a run for his money.
Philipp Lahm, a somewhat different captain
Speaking of Matthäus. Lahm isn’t necessarily a typical captain as one has known him before. Throwing tantrums, snarling, talking big – that was rather the thing of his predecessors: Effenberg, Kahn or even Matthäus. And they have, indeed, been successful that way. But Lahm works differently. Whether in the National Team or at Bayern, Lahm is a modern leader: pondering, friendly, thoughtful. The customary reflexes are alien to him. Some find that a captain has to be different. Not Lahm. And he doesn’t want to change. With that, even if this season was difficult, coming in second (the German Cup, the Bundesliga, the Champions League), he has already had some success: the 1m70-man has got himself an awesome six pack (abs), playing for Bayern.
Philipp Lahm: A man who knows what he wants
His résumé also shows an odd record that he once turned down an offer from the great FC Barcelona. Munich instead of Messi. Who makes a decision like that must know exactly what he wants.
“Today we don’t want to talk about the European Championship, Bayern, or the Champions League,” I say before we begin the interview, “but about your drive, motivation, your pulse and fitness.” Lahm looks [at me] for a moment, thinks it over, and then says, “Yes.” We have 40 minutes. It will go over an hour long.
Mr. Lahm, you are the captain of the German National Team, getting close to having 100 caps, and this European Championship is already your fifth major tournament. What motivates you all over again this year?
For me, there are two things that motivate: fun [my note: the joy one gets from playing the game] and goals [my note: as in “a goal in life”]. The joy has always been there. I have constantly kicked the ball everywhere. Then there are the goals. Whether earlier on, in the youth team or today in the Bundesliga, the German Cup, the Champions League, at the World Cup or the European Championship, I believe that you always need to have goals in life and self-motivation. Without them, there is no drive, and it makes no sense.
There should be discipline as well.
And it becomes more difficult. Earlier, when you’re a teenager, there was a girlfriend, buddies, a swimming pool. In that case, it’s possible to train and play seven days a week without ever skipping only when I have goals and am hungry for success. It also doesn’t help me when a coach says, “In order to be successful, you have to do this and that and run a lot.” It has to come from within.
In other words, “having fun” plus “hunger for success” equals motivation.
Only being hungry for success doesn’t do it. And just having fun doesn’t do it either.
That’s it. If someday I don’t enjoy it anymore, then I should quit playing football. There must be a healthy mix, and at certain stages in life, also a lot, a lot of discipline and willingness to make sacrifices. Thus, there are certain cases in the profession when many good athletes can’t stay on track because they don’t have all the elements: ambition, self-motivation. Discipline.
Does this mindset suffice to get out of bed in the morning or get through a difficult match?
There are days when I wake up, it’s raining or it’s really cold in the winter, and I think, “It’s impossible. Today I have no desire to do it.” But that’s the job. It’s like anyone else who has to get up in the morning and has to work. In that case, my drive is clearly my hunger for success. For titles. I have that in mind in difficult moments of a match as well. Otherwise, after 70 minutes, I could say, ‘Now I’m done, now I’m going to just stand there.
How do you know that you are fit?
We get a lot of statistics, but in the end, it’s always the following: a feeling.
When do you get it? During a match? In the 80th minute?
Not at all. Rather before a game. During a warm-up. We always warm up the same way. Hence, I can compare and evaluate how I feel physically. There are days when I think, “Man, today everything is working out!” And there are days when I think, “Oh, a bad feeling, the legs are a bit heavy, today it might become difficult for me.”
What then? Saving some energy in the beginning of the game?
No. The advantage is that I know that I can always change that feeling during a match.
Right after the kick-off, I try to win a tackle to pull myself up. It can also be something different and equally good. I get away from the opponent, make a good pass. And then the fans are going along! The fitness doesn’t get better, but the motivation. The euphoria. Sometimes you get over a bad moment that way and think, “Well, now it’s going! Now I could still run for hours!”
What is going on in your body when you’re pushed to your limits?
I don’t notice that during a match but afterwards. During a match, there is only concentration. I have to be wide awake, and I run, run, run. There has never been a moment when I thought, “I can’t do it anymore.” The emptiness comes after the game. You’re sitting there, and you’re done, you’re really done, and you think, “What a difficult task it was today!” You’re mentally tired, as if after a difficult exam, and you feel the muscles and think, “Now it’s difficult.” You even get spasms sometimes.
Spasms after the game?
Yes, most likely afterwards. You’re sitting there and are suddenly in spasms. Fortunately, that rarely happens.