The Right To Be Himself

If there is one reason why, in my opinion, I would not become a professional athlete, it is the pressure. Lots and lots of pressure. Everyone is pushing and pulling in different directions. Everyone expects grandeur. Everyone is upset when they do not get what they were hoping for, and they let you know in a way that makes you feel like they need it more than you do, although it is your life, after all. With this in mind, I am going to comment on an article that I read today, even though the author writes about the press conference that took place before the match last Friday.


Philipp Lahm Is Running Out of Time

By Michael Rosentritt

This is how I felt after reading the title:

The “Inception Animals” video would work out too. Honestly, why so dramatic?

A new tournament cycle starts again. Again the German National Team wants to win a title. The captain Philipp Lahm suspects that he no longer has too many opportunities.

For real? This is getting even worse. Thank you, Mr. Rosentritt, for reminding us about it. By the way, the end of the world is coming, so we do not even have to worry about the World Cup 2014.

There’s a vertical wrinkle on Philipp Lahm’s forehead. And one has the impression that over the summer this wrinkle has become deeper on the face of the German football. Anyway, that’s him, a professional football player from Munich, who has been combining for two years the two most important German captaincies: FC Bayern Munich and the German National Team. The only problem is that behind the two teams, and thus behind Philipp Lahm, lies a time of great emotional disappointment. With FC Bayern, he came in second, wherever it was possible, and with the National Team, this strange Italian game intervened in the semi-final of the European Championship. Should we be worried?

This person probably took a course in creative writing. A wrinkle? Was that supposed to make the article more philosophical?

Perhaps, Lahm has to look that way. It takes him a couple of askew phrases until it gets clear. Lahm talks about a new courage, a new motivation and new opportunities now that a new tournament cycle begins in Hanover with the match against the Faroe Islands. “Keeping in my mind our participation in the semi-finals of the last four tournaments, it is only natural that our goal is to win a title at the World Cup 2014,” says Lahm. What should he say?

Yes, what should he say? Obviously that is the goal. What else can it be? Stop asking about it already.

Already this past summer, the nation trusted this exclusive team to win a big title, not to mention expected [it of them]. However, it turned out differently. Lahm talks about bitterness and disappointment; everyone on the team, including him, asked himself after the defeat what he did wrong. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t like to share his findings with the public. “Let us work that out internally,” says Lahm. Too bad, the failure of the team couldn’t have been more public than that.

Do I detect some sort of sarcasm in the word “exclusive”? And wait a second… If Lahm had shared something, then he would have been criticized for giving away the information that was supposed to be for internal use. Please take your pick, people! When he shares what he thinks he has the right to share, you do not like it. When he does not share what he thinks he doesn’t have the right to share, you do not like it either. So picky! :)

Lahm threatened to almost disappear into oblivion

Lahm wasn’t exempt from criticism during the tournament. Behind him, there was an average season at Bayern that wasn’t really bad, but wasn’t really good either. The same goes for the European Championship. Sure, Portugal and the Netherlands, the teams that belong to the football elite, were defeated. But [the team] lacked the intoxication, power and imagination with which they played against England and Argentina at the World Cup 2010. Yes, and also Lahm remained somewhat unremarkable during the summer tournament. He threatened to almost disappear into oblivion.

What?! This is just too much. First of all, what are we talking about? The title of this part of the article makes it sound as if we were talking about animals on the verge of extinction. To disappear into oblivion? Lahm? Never! Those of us who have been following him so far know what he has done and how important he has been. Germany better know it too. He is one of the few, if not the only German fullback, who is at the international level. Remember that UEFA video on Lahm? “Philipp Lahm is widely considered to be one of the best fullbacks in the modern game.” © He has made the Official Team of the Tournament four times already. People still remember the goals he scored against Costa Rica, Turkey, and Greece. Into oblivion? Surely, you must be joking!

A not-so-good season at Bayern? Again, this is simply ridiculous. Being the second best team in Europe? That is bad? The way he played throughout the season, the way he played in the CL-Final to say the least, is way greater than what constitutes disappearing into oblivion.

Imagination and power? They were present during the qualification round before the EURO 2012. They did not disappear after the World Cup 2010.

His critics have reproached him for the lack of emotionality. The latter denotes a captain who should lead the team to titles. “We lacked a bit”, says Lahm but remains vague. “It’s not about will and attitude that everyone had.” Now it must be a matter of “how we can improve”. Still, he admits that they made tactical mistakes in the match against clever Italians. “But you see, at each tournament there are two, three teams that have exactly the same big goals as we do.” There is no guarantee for winning a title, even with all the talent

People have to back off a bit. Leave him be. He is the way he is. He will not change. Not for me, not for other fans, not for you. He has already explained his point of view so many times, and frankly, he does not have to do so. Have the critics seen his reaction during the CL-Final, during the match against Greece and so on? Why are they so eager to observe his emotions? Let the man be. Lahm, more power to you!

My God, says Lahm, in the past 80 years, Germany has won the World Cup only three times, hence not every generation has been privileged enough to win a title. “But we’re as eager as before,” said Lahm with great enthusiasm in his voice. It is a huge fun for him, even after more than 90 internationals caps, [to work] with this team that posses so much quality.

This is one of the things I admire about Lahm. I love his enthusiasm. I love his determination and his will to always move forward. I love how much he believes in his team, and most importantly, I feel it. If I were on the team, I would know that he’s always got my back.

“It was always a dream, to start a small family”

He recounts how just recently he came on to the pitch and realized that, “being just under 29 years old”, he is the second oldest. Only the eternal Klose is older. So many young players have crowded into the team. And then he also realized how “happy and proud” it makes him, “to belong to this generation”.

Philipp Lahm became a father a few weeks ago. For the first time. A new reality of life that, perhaps, is going to spread onto his being. “It was always a dream to start a small family,” says Lahm with a pleased smile on his face. Perhaps, this victory is going to help him. In any case as a human, but also as the captain, as the leader that has lived very quiet and inward so far. Emotions don’t necessarily have to be in the way. Then he suddenly says that he is aware that “I might finish my career without winning a title with the National Team.” But he would still do everything in order to win it. This new generation has it in them, he says, for sure. “They can win a title,” says Lahm, “still with me, at best.”

Well, now the author makes it sounds like Lahm is very unhappy with his career. And I am astonished how people just cannot let it go that Lahm is the way he is. They are not getting it, are they? He is not emotionless. This issue has got to the point of being very annoying. It is as if they are fixated on the idea of the following equation: very visible emotions = a great leader.

The independence of spirit and mind, that is Lahm for you. If someone does not like that, it is their loss.

translation © unavis



  1. Wow. This is just ridiculous. I am sort of new to soccer, I watched a bit of the last WC and the German team caught my eye by how well everyone played. Then recently, I watched the Euro and this time, the team became my favorite. It’s sad that the players get hounded with all these repetitive questions, don’t the people asking these questions have anything better to do? Can’t they be satisfied with supporting the team, the coach, and the players? The players are human and of course they deal with life’s setbacks in their own way. I just wish the press would be more supportive and humane towards them and give them space to do what they need to do instead of harassing them with questions and remarks that don’t help at all.

    1. Hi :)

      Thank you for leaving a comment!

      Well, if someone who is rather new to soccer says they were good, then it means they must be doing something right. Unfortunately, the media is always ready to tear anyone apart. For example, another article stigmatized the refusal to discuss – in detail – with the press mistakes that players made in the match against the Faroe Islands as “after the final whistle, mistakes were already forgotten a few minutes later”. And that’s not the case at all.

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