I read a critique after today’s match, in which they talked about Lahm’s relationship with the fans and whatnot. Frankly, I was confused since I had no idea whatsoever what interview they were referring to. However, now I know: the new interview to TZ. To say that it is huge would be a great understatement. There are two parts to it, and this is the first one. As always, feel free to comment.
“I, too, want a place in the general admission area!”
Nowadays, when there is a lot of talk about fans’ presence and fan culture, Philipp Lahm takes a stance on this topic. In the interview with TZ, Bayern’s captain speaks of his experience as a fan.
Mr. Lahm, there is a huge discussion at the moment about fans in Germany. How was it for you? Have you always been a fan of Bayern?
Lahm: To be sure. But my fan-life was, of course, different from that of most people. I joined FC Bayern when I was 11 years old. At first, I was a ball-boy; when I became older, I was allowed to bring the flag for the Champions League matches into the stadium. Thus, my seat in the stadium was always secured.
At that time, how could one see you were a Bayern fan?
Lahm: It was also a little different from the others. In many cases, we got a hand towel or bed linens for Christmas. So, I was well-equipped.
But you had a jersey. Whose name was on the back?
Lahm (thinks for quite some time): Phew! As a player, I had my own jersey.
Who was your idol?
Lahm: There were many. Mehmet Scholl, also Jürgen Klinsmann, Giovane Elber, Lothar Matthäus, Oliver Kahn.
Whose posters did you have in your room?
Lahm: Honestly, I had more basketball posters. Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, – the golden days of Chicago Bulls.
Can you still remember your first time in the stadium?
Lahm: Of course. The very first time I wasn’t yet at Bayern, but they wanted me to join, and I got to be a ball-boy at the Olympiastadion. I was 10, and that was, of course, sensational!
[He talks about it in the second chapter of his book, I believe, so if you haven’t read it yet, feel free to do so :) ]
Later on, were you also in the general admission area?
Lahm: Yes; you can be a ball-boy only while you’re in a certain age group. Later on, we got general admission tickets to the South stands. And since I was a huge football fan, I gladly went to the stadium. In the South stands, we always stood at the bottom, there was the most space. We were kids, 12-13 years old.
Were there risky situations?
Lahm: Perhaps a little bit when there were too many people. But at the bottom, it was quite empty, we didn’t need to be afraid.
How important are fans in the general admission area for football? After all, they create the atmosphere…
Lahm: They are very important, that’s quite clear. These fans belong in the stadium, they create the mood. Nevertheless, it shouldn’t be dangerous. I hope that the best solution satisfying both parties will be found. The following is obvious: I, too, want a general admission ticket! For me, that belongs in with football. As a kid, I stood in that area. For me, that is part of football. However, as mentioned earlier, it has to be safe.
Is it not?
Lahm: I can’t be the judge of that because I haven’t been to the general admission area in a long time.
How did it feel when the fans were silent for 12 minutes and 12 seconds?
Lahm: For us, players, it felt just like for everyone else in the arena. Everyone wants [to attend] a sold-out stadium with a great atmosphere. The songs, the chants, the flags. And when it’s silent, it is, of course, strange, even if it had been for 2 minutes.
Do you have friends in the general admission area?
Lahm: I have many friends who are “stadium fans”. They simply like going to the arena, they love the atmosphere. They, themselves, play football at times and would be happy if there were 100 spectators.
And when they go to the stadium, do they feel safe?
Lahm: I haven’t heard differently [from them]. I think that it’s safe go to a football stadium in Germany. Our stadiums are relatively new, therefore I would assume they are safe, and nothing happens to a regular visitor.
Why, then, is there such an intense debate in Germany?
Lahm: Maybe because there are worries that it can go in the wrong direction, and one wants to react fast.
Have you ever talked to Mesut Özil or Per Mertesaker about the problems in Spain or England?
Lahm: Sure, we’ve talked about it. For example, we’ve talked about the fact that in England, when players are warming up, there are hardly any people because the stadium is full only when a match starts. That’s, of course, is a huge difference for us.
Would you go to the stadium with your family?
Lahm: Of course. I would have no worries about that.
And when your 12-year-old son tells you, “Dad, I’m going to the general admission area”?
Lahm: Then I’d consider it beforehand. In the general admission area, it’s already different. When you have a seat, you have space, and it’s certain. For me as a kid, it was cool in the general admission area, but looking back, I’d say that a seat, perhaps, would have been better. Also, due to a better view of the field.
And in 10 years, do you see yourself going to the arena?
Lahm: I’m someone who looks at a game very analytically. [Oh yeaaaah! He does.] For me, it’s more than just the mood. I want to see the tactics and have a good view of the field. I don’t know if I will go often to the stadium. I love, indeed, the atmosphere, but I am a football enthusiast and want to see things in slow motion as well.
There has also been a lot of talk about pyrotechnics. Should we tolerate them?
Lahm: No, because it’s about safety. I’ve witnessed it: in Milan, it was lit in the upper stands, and the sparks trickled down to the lower stands. For me, the most important thing is the safety in the stadium.
May I just say that I enjoy reading and translating interviews like this one? Love it.