The Subtle Difference: Chapter II – Part II

The XXX Summer Olympic Games are over, and I admit that I got somewhat teary-eyed, watching the Closing Ceremony. It was so great watching all the athletes and seeing greatness each day. Congratulations to every country-participant!

In addition, Bayern won the match against Dortmund today, and I cannot tell you how happy I was to see Lahm lifting the trophy! I cannot describe the feeling. At last, I might add! Lahm had some very good moments in this match, for example his tackle around the 25′ mark was stellar.

That being said, I am continuing with Lahm’s book…


“Hello, Philipp. Do you, perhaps, have a desire to play in the U11 for Bayern? I’m the coach.”

Now the answer is no longer that easy. My ambition has made some considerable progress. Already if I lose in the game of parcheesi (ludo) at home, all hell breaks loose, and with all due respect, we won’t win anything big with FT Gern. Hm.

I answer truthfully, “I don’t know.”

However, the coach is persistent. He talks to my parents. They are sort of flattered, but they are waiting for a little kid’s answer, for my answer.

“We will call you.”

But the coach doesn’t give up. He casts a fishing line with big bait.

“If you come to a trial session, you’ll be allowed to become a ball-boy.”

Damn! Now I have to go to a trial session.

Nevertheless, I remain skeptical. The familiarity of our football field, the smell of our locker rooms, the fun that I have with my teammates… Will I get at FC Bayern something that means as much to me as this? And, overall, am I good enough for the great FC Bayern?

While driving me to a trial session, my mom looks at me closely from the driver’s seat. She notices that I’m nervous. But she wants to spare me the embarrassment of admitting it, so we don’t talk.

I don’t know what I have expected, but FC Bayern’s student team is completely in order. A player, who is 6 months older than me, takes me immediately under his wing. His name is Enzo. His little brother, Diego Contento, will play with me in Bayern’s professional team years later.

Right away, Enzo is a lot like an ally. He has also undertaken the task of driving with me to the Olympiastadion and teaching me the duties of a ball-boy there.

On our way back to Gern, I have a feeling that I will make friends very fast at FC Bayern as well. This feeling is stronger that the sadness of realizing that I won’t see my friends from home that often. While thinking about it, I realize that I have already made a decision. Yes, I will play switch to Bayern.


For the first time, I understand what the order on the pitch is. With a sound of his whistle, our coach, Jan Pienta, stops all things that people would let slide in Gern. He impresses upon each player to hold the position he has been assigned and stick to the basic pattern on which our game is based.

I play at the position 8, in the defensive midfield with a bit of space for going forward. It runs in the family: my dad has always played at that position. For the first time, I hear the term “positional game” along with understandable instructions. For the first time, I understand the relationship between the drawings that the coach pins up onto a board in the locker room and the run of the ball on the field. I smell football. I anticipate the level.

However, I have a lot to learn in order to really integrate into the team. For example, I have to learn to be away from home. Up until this moment, I have never slept away from home, and now we’re driving to compete in Berlin where we will stay with host families. I have to learn to give up spending time with my friends because I have practice three times a week on Säbener Straße and play on the weekends.

For the most part, we win, so that is fun.

While playing in the Hertie-Cup at Munich’s Olympia Hall, we are up against TSV 1860 München in the final. After the end of normal time, it’s a draw, and as I score the golden goal in the extra time, I’m in the bundle of players celebrating this goal, completely under. Everyone lies on top of me.

In the evening, I notice that I have very thick patches on my neck. We go to see a doctor. He examines me and almost immediately says that I have a swollen spleen, presumably because of an infection that I haven’t noticed until now. Just don’t press on it too much, – the doctor says, – the spleen might rupture. It’s a good thing he tells me this now. (my note: I laughed at the last sentence)

(translation ©unavis. It is strictly forbidden to use this translation, in parts or in its entirety, without my consent.)


Lahm, Philipp. Der feine Unterschied: Wie man heute Spitzenfußballer wird. Munich: Kunstmann, 2011.

Сhapter II – Part III



  1. The bright side of life · · Reply

    So nice. I really appreciate not just Philipp, but all footballers despite of their teams, because of all the sacrifices they do in their pursuit of their dream. It must not be easy to sleep and live far far away from home with people you don’t know at all and not being able to see your friends, because as Lahm says, you have training three times per week and you play in the weekend.

    That’s something not everyone wants to do, and it’s something to underline when you crap on a footballer after a bad match. Thanks for your work <3

    1. Hi :)

      Thanks for leaving a comment!

      When I was reading that passage, I thought about how much one has to love what s/he does in order to give up other things. I mean, that love has to be enormous! A person has to eat, breathe, and sleep it to be ready to change his/her life so drastically. And I don’t think I’ve ever loved something that much.

  2. […] Today I am continuing with the translation of Philipp’s book. In case you have already forgotten what came before this one, you can find the previous part here: Chapter II – Part II. […]

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