And here is the second part of the TZ interview. In it, Lahm talks about the lost Champions League Finale, the current season, and the life of his young family.
I wonder if people will ever stop asking about the Champions League Finale… Anyhow, here we go…
Interview: Jan Janssen, Michael Knippenkötter
Mr. Lahm, the year of 2012 is almost over. So, what’s left for you? Has it been a successful year?
Lahm: No. When it comes to Bayern, you always must win titles, and we’ve missed on that, therefore it hasn’t be a successful year.
Many say that playing in three finals isn’t that bad after all!
Lahm: Nevertheless, that’s not a success. Winning titles belongs in with Bayern, everyone knows that, guys grow up with it. Thomas Müller, Toni Kroos or Holger Badstuber, they all know what it’s about. We failed to win a title. So, it wasn’t a successful second half of the season, not a successful half of the year. Now, in the first half of this season, things are different.
The big game of the year was the Champions League Finale in Munich. How and when did you process it?
Lahm: It went by pretty fast. One sets new goals for himself. It would have been worse for me if we had gotten the regular vacation (4 weeks) after that game. But this way, I concentrated on the European Championship.
There was the next knock down, and then you got your 4 weeks of vacation. How were they?
Lahm: It’s not like it was immediately forgotten. But I immediately think of the positive! I will remember the finale at home in Munich for the rest of my life and not entirely in negative terms. Over the course of the whole season, we feverishly tried to get to the final. And we did it! That’s something special.
But you lost.
Lahm: Yes, that was dramatic and bitter. However, one shouldn’t forget the positive side! The same goes for the European Championship: we didn’t lose to a better team, we lost to a smarter team. Was that a low blow? I don’t know. But yes, I was disappointed.
When you get a vacation, do you ever think that you might finish your great career without international titles?
Lahm: No. That thought didn’t cross my mind at all. It’s because I know what FC Bayern’s strength is. The club is setup in all areas. One has to reinforce that, in that case I’m sure, [we’ll] reach the final of the Champions League again in three, four years. Whether you win, that’s another question. In football, you never know.
But time is running out for you… [my note: this is very dramatic! No need for that]
Lahm: It can happen some time in the future that I stop without having won any international title, yes. Until then, I’ll give it my all to win that title.
But that would sting, wouldn’t it? [my note: is it me or were they trying to get the answer they wanted?]
Lahm: There are more important things in life, definitely.
After the World Cup 2010, you spoke of a great team spirit. Was it the same in Poland?
Lahm: In 2012, we also had a good spirit, but it was different. In 2010, there were new players on board, then we were winning, everything fit, we defeated the great opponents! This year we had 20 players, among which almost everyone could have played from the start. Besides, the pressure, the expectations were very different.
And that’s why the disappointment was so huge?
Lahm: Yes, I think so. If you were eliminated in the match against Spain, okay, that’s a top team that is still a bit further along than we are. But against Italy? They don’t have individual players that are better, they weren’t a better team. However, they played smarter. And so we got knocked out. In the future, we have to learn to win games like that.
Mr. Lahm, what’s the year of 2012 been like for you personally? Was the birth of your son in August the most drastic experience of your life?
Lahm: Yes, of course. Although I think that a wedding is also always something special. You don’t plan on doing it more often. (laughs) But clearly, having a child is quite significant.
Were you present at the birth?
Lahm: Of course.
How has your life changed since then?
Lahm: It’s completely different. You have a completely different responsibility. The same goes for my wife. We’re occupied with our son around-the-clock.
Does that also mean less sleep for you?
Lahm: Thankfully, that’s limited. Julian is a very, very easy baby.
Who gets up at the night, you or your wife?
Lahm: It depends…
Have you also woken up at 4 in the morning?
Lahm: I’ve also woken up at one and at six. But we interchange pretty well.
Do you change diapers too?
Lahm: I’ve already done that, yes.
And did it work?
Lahm: Absolutely. Anyway, I think that nowadays fathers are different than before. Today, a father’s [involvement] is perhaps more required than before. Back in the day, he wriggled his way out of it a bit more; things are different nowadays.
After training, do you go directly home?
Lahm: Yes, sure; I’m always very excited about it! The only thing that is nicer is when you’ve been away for two or three days and then come back home.
Have your priorities shifted? Do you think differently about the Euro crisis, debt levels?
Lahm: It’s always important to keep your eyes open and be informed about what is happening in the world. Since I am a father, I follow perhaps more intensely that which might happen in the future.
Do you worry?
Lahm: No. I am very confident. Our government has it all quite well under control.
Let’s talk about the first half of the season. What gives you hope that you’ll be able to stay in the lead?
Lahm: Above all, our work in defense and our ‘changeover’ game. [I believe he means going from defending to attacking, and vice versa; reacting well to changes] We’re definitely doing that better! We must continue to keep working like that. And, of course, the players still remember what happened last season when we gave away the lead. Every player is warned against that, that shows in every match!
Is the hunger bigger after two years without winning the Championship?
Lahm: No, it was there last season as well. But maybe last season it was really the case that the Champions League was a bit more important for everyone involved. This season everyone absolutely wants to be a champion again.
There are players at FC Bayern, who do not know the feeling yet. Luiz Gustavo, Manuel Neuer …
Lahm: Manuel Neuer has now been for a year with us. If he wins the Championship in his second year, he has not done that much wrong!
He has come to Bayern to become, indeed, a champion…
Lahm: And I believe that he’ll accomplish that over the course of his career. In fact, I’m 100 percent sure. I think I can promise that Manuel Neuer will stand with the cup on the city hall’s balcony at least one in his career!
Probably next year. What role does Matthias Sammer play in it? What is his job exactly?
Lahm: I cannot explain it in detail. But you can talk to him about everything. He sees things, talks about them to the players and, of course, to Bastian and me. That’s how he influences the team.
How often do you talk?
Lahm: On a regular basis. He’s here every day, we always see each other. He also attends team meetings. However, he’s always an observer, never a speaker.
The first half [of the season] was almost perfect, right?
Lahm: Absolutely. Now it’s still important to get the three points against Gladbach so that the point difference remains the same (eleven points). Then we can be very, very happy.
Last season, you lost both matches against Gladbach.
Lahm: I believe that something has changed at both clubs. Hence, we cannot compare it with the last season. In addition, we are playing at home at the Allianz Arena, we want to win – we’ll demonstrate that! And then, in the second half (of the season), we must start in the same manner. The other teams shouldn’t get a feeling that they can take away points from us.
Alright. So, obviously, the interview was conducted before the match, and now I get the reference I have read before. But isn’t it nice to see that Bayern got a draw and didn’t lose like last season? I am definitely a “glass half-full” person :)
There is so much good stuff in this interview! That is what I always talk about: give him space and time to explain, ask interesting questions, and it will be an awesome experience for both an interviewer and a reader.
Has anyone noticed how Lahm’s answers got shorter once he started talking about his family? :)