The Subtle Difference: Chapter III – Part IV

October is here, so make sure you watch out for that capricious weather. It’s that time of year. Meanwhile, I’m continuing with Lahm’s book.

Happy reading, y’all!


Rudi Völler’s successor is Jürgen Klinsmann. Klinsmann takes charge of the National Team, to which people have assigned all possible candidates all month long: “Arsenal” ‘s coach, Arsène Wenger, the Dutch coaches Morten Olsen or Guus Hiddink, but also Ottmar Hitzfeld or Otto Rehhagel, who won the European Championship in Portugal with the Greek National Team.

I’ve known Klinsmann as an active player, but I’ve never met him face to face, maybe once as a ball boy. After finishing his very successful career as a striker, he went to the US and worked there in sports management. That shows, as he presents himself to us along with the team he had put together.

Klinsmann brings Oliver Bierhoff as a manager and Jogi Löw as an assistant coach. He announces that he will renovate the structure of the National Team from the ground up and, while doing so, also wants to reform the DFB. He already has a couple of keywords in his program that sound superb. In the future, the team should play “power football”; the style of play should be more attacking than before, fast and forward, fast & furious.

I am a bit skeptical. I believe that’s normal. Whenever something new comes at you, you are a bit skeptical. At first, a new coach always stands everything on its head.

A new coach, new preferences, new pressure. To begin with, every coach must spot your quality and position you on the field, and you must deliver at the right moment, otherwise you’re out again; it goes really fast. If you play well in your first match and badly in the second one, you’re already under pressure in the third game. Hence, you must be consistent. You must not get injured, you must not get sick at the wrong time. All of that plays a role till you’re a starter at last.

I think my chances are also good with the new head coach. I have played well in both the Bundesliga and the National Team. But didn’t Klinsmann say that he was going to rebuild the team from the ground up, to reform the whole DFB? Perhaps he plays without a fullback, who knows.

However, in August 2004, when Jürgen Klinsmann announces the squad for the match against Austria, I’m in, as well as a whole group of young players. Basti Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Andreas Hinkel, Kevin Kurányi. And right from the start, after the head coach has communicated his plan, a different wind blows. Klinsmann brings with him a fitness trainer from the US, he separates himself from the staff that has been with the National Team for many years. He appoints Michael Ballack captain instead of Oliver Kahn. As a ground for that, Klinsmann names the fact that he doesn’t want a goalkeeper to be a captain.

Everything that will be dealt with during practice suddenly makes sense. The whole coaching team knows what they want. We warm up focusing on appropriate “exercises” followed by cardio. The pictures in which we train muscles by using elastic bands are everywhere in the media and become the symbol of changing eras, marked by Jürgen Klinsmann’s arrival.

Once a year Klinsmann’s team runs fitness tests to check endurance, speed, agility, and strength of every player, who, while being subjected to it, shouldn’t forget to manage to do a pull-up.  

Klinsmann and his team gather data like crazy, they support each exercise with scientific facts (related to sports) and a research of the team’s analytical department. Communication is greatly emphasized. Klinsmann himself speaks with all the players on a regular basis. Every talk targets motivation. Motivation is his major topic. He himself radiates tons of passion, and he seeks to transmit that passion to us and to channel it. A fast game, a beautiful game, an attacking game, a successful game. That is the new mantra of the German National Team.

(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.



  1. hi…..thnx a lot for translating…where is next part brother..?????

  2. Koiwilai · · Reply

    I just want to say Thank you for your time and effort in translating this. I’ve been searching and waiting for any publisher in thailand to translate this book or any other publisher to publish the english version of the book. I’ve almost given up that i will probably not be able to read it at all. And finally i found your blog. Looking forward to the next part of it. :)

    1. unavis · · Reply

      You’re very welcome. Thanks for leaving a comment!

  3. […] Here’s the last part of the third chapter. If you need to review the previous one, you can find it here Chapter III – Part IV […]

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