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Martin Demichelis: An Interview

A friend of mine was kind enough to provide me with an interview with Micho in the most recent Bayern Magazine. Enjoy!

We won’t let ourselves be slowed down
The big interview with defensive ace Martín Demichelis

The scale for praise is in his case open-ended: Martin Demichelis (27) has ripened into a truly world class defensive player in his fifth year with FC Bayern; Uli Hoeneß considers him "the best defenseman in the Bundesliga". Bayern Magazine spoke with the Argentine after the Pokal victory – about this praise from his manager, the goals for the coming weeks, and the topic of the Olympics. And "Micho" gives away a hint as to why he’s already looking forward to this fall.

Martin, congratulations on the Pokal victory. Are you feeling relieved, after such a close match?

Martin Demichelis: I am overjoyed. This is my third Pokal victory, but it’s never been that close before. It seems at the moment that we just can’t lose – I hope that it stays that way until the end of the season, and that we can get the other two titles, too.

How important is this first title for the rest of the season?

Demichelis: The Pokal is an additional motivation. Even though we had to endure overtime; the game cost us a lot of strength. But when you are rewarded once it’s over, you don’t feel your tired muscles anymore. We have so much self-confidence: Nothing can stop us now!

You’ve played an outstanding season, you could win the triple with Bayern, and you have found luck in your private life – it doesn’t get any better than this, right?

Demichelis: That’s right, I’m very satisfied with my performance and I’m also very happy in my private life. But especially regarding my sporting situation, I’ve also had to work hard and fight for this for five years. Now, with 27 years, I can finally show what I can do.

Not only the fans and the media, but also management is thrilled with you. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge classifies you as “world class”, Uli Hoeneß has recently enobled you with the title “Best Defenseman of the League”, according to Paul Breitner you are playing the “season of your life”. How do you feel about this praise?

Demichelis: It fills me with great pride and shows me that I’m on the right path. I am happy that I’ve been able to meet the expectations that were invested in me when I was signed on as a player. If I wasn’t able to pay back for this trust, after five years of playing for FC Bayern, then I’d have a completely different relationship with management.

Your statistics are sensational: In the 24 Bundesliga games that you have played so far this season, FC Bayern kept a clean slate in 14 of those games – without you, this was only achieved once. Also, you have won the most one-on-one battles of any defenders in the league. Do these statistics mean anything to you?

Demichelis: I don’t live for numbers. Every three or four days I have to prove on the pitch at what high level I can play. But these kinds of statistics are reassuring, and at the same time serve as an acknowledgement of my work. I am really proud to be the player who has won the most one-on-one battles, because that’s what it all comes down to, for a defenseman – above all in Argentina. There, life is a series of one-on-one battles; children don’t have it as easy as they do here. I have had to fight to establish myself right from the very beginning of my life, that is something which really left its mark.

Together with Lucio you build one of the best defensive duos in the world. Oliver Kahn said that you are the best defence he’s ever played with. What makes your cooperation so successful?

Demichelis: I think that we have both reached a really high level. He is the captain of Brazil’s Seleçao, I play for Argentina. We have really grown on each other, and besides, we have a very similar style of play: We pair South-American energy with German discipline. On the pitch we are two lunatics who scream at each other, but neither of us would ever be angry with the other. We both just want to win.

Lucio recently said that he wants to leave Bayern – have you discussed this with him, tried to get him to change his mind?

Demichelis: Lucio is very important for this team, and he’s aware of this responsibility. Besides, we both want to prove in the Champions League next year that we really do belong among the best central defenders of the world.

After five years, you’ve finally really found you place here with FC Bayern. How are things looking for the development of your countryman José Ernesto Sosa?

Demichelis: José has fantastic technical capabilities, but first of all he needs to get used to everything, on and off the pitch – it took a while for me, too. But I have a great deal of faith in him and believe that he could become a very important player for FC Bayern. He is intelligent and will continue to develop, he’ll make it.

How is your relationship with him on a personal level, do you help him in his new environment?

Demichelis: Of course, that goes without saying. We live in Grünwald just about 100 meters from each other, as the crow flies. And our girlfriends get along very well.

Which other players do you hang out with, away from the Säbener Straße?

Demichelis: Actually, I get along well with everyone. I think that’s important, because we travel so much together. I go out to eat with Luca sometimes, when our girlfriends aren’t in Munich – cooking isn’t really our thing. (Laughs.)

And where do you go? To an Argentine steakhouse, or to an Italian restaurant?

Demichelis: Unfortunately, I haven’t found any true Argentine restaurants in Munich, so the only place for grilling is at home in my own yard – therefore we go to Italian restaurants. But that doesn’t really happen all too often, because I usually eat lunch at training, and otherwise we’re in hotels two or three days per week. When I have the chance to be at home, then I usually just relax and rest up.

Your future coach Jürgen Klinsmann is famous for having lots of new ideas. What do you expect from him?

Demichelis: In any case, a new trainer always brings out new energy and new motivation. I am expecting a lot of things from him, above all, that he helps the team to make another step forward. We have a great roster, and play very well together. Now the challenge of the Champions League is waiting for us.

Is the Champions League your biggest goal?

Demichelis: First of all, I want to win as many titles as possible in this season. But of course I want to try, with the team, to win the Champions League next year. But my biggest goal, actually, is to play ten years for FC Bayern.

And with the Argentine National Team?

Demichelis: When it comes to the discussions surrounding my potential participation in the Olympics, I need to make one thing clear: My first priority is FC Bayern. I am a son of this club, and success with this club is what is most important for me. When it comes to the national team, it’s about my love for my homeland, and about honour. For me, there’s no more special moment than hearing your national anthem, wearing your national jersey, before a game. I always think about my family, and about my friends, and hope that they are proud of me. And that’s where my wish comes from, to be able to play in the Olympics.

Can you explain that a bit more?

Demichelis: It’s not just about taking part in the Olympics, but it’s about the whole event. I have taken on an important role in the national team, but I’ve not been able to participate in any important tournament. I had my bags packed for the World Cup in 2006, I was sure that I’d be part of it, and was just waiting for the call. And when I didn’t make it on the roster, my world fell apart around me. It took me eight months to get over it. If I were to be nominated for the Olympics, but not be allowed to go, that will probably hit me hard, again. But I’ll say it again: FC Bayern is Number One for me, so we’ll discuss this like grown-up men.

Your colleagues have a big tournament this summer. What do you expect from the German National Team, and who do you think will win the European Cup?

Demichelis: For me, Germany is the favourite. And I’m not just saying that because I live here. The team really continued to develop after the Wold Cup, they’ve become more mature. Italy is entering the tournament as Word Champions, but I think that they reached their zenith in 2006. But Germany can still improve.

Back to FC Bayern: You said you want to play 10 years in Munich, and you are now in your fifth season. Your contract runs until 2010, so you’d have to renew…

Demichelis: At the moment, I see no reason why I shouldn’t. I am very happy here in Munich, this city has become my second home. And FC Bayern is my club, I feel like a family member.

If you had to tell someone from Argentina, who didn’t know much about German football, about FC Bayern in just a few sentences – what would you say?

Demichelis: First of all, absolutely everyone in Argentina knows FC Bayern, so I wouldn’t have to explain anything. The stadium, the club’s training grounds, the whole organisation – everything is really perfect with FC Bayern, a real role model for all other clubs.

And what do you like about this city, what are your favourite places?

Demichelis: I love nature. In this city, I love the English Garden and the Isar. And on top of that you have the many gorgeous lakes and the mountains – there’s nothing better for relaxing. My Dad is here for a visit for the next few weeks, we’re going to do a lot together. Of course no visit is complete without a trip to the Beer Garden! Overall in Munich, I really value things like the lifestyle, safety, cleanliness and the friendly people. Everyone helps you, everyone is nice, you can only be happy here.

Are you still living alone here in Munich, or has your friend Evangelina already moved in with you?

Demichelis: My girlfriend has been here twice, but she has her job with Argentine TV, and has to fulfil her contract. She plans to come back the next time when we win the championship – and then I’ll be home over the summer break. We’ll see how things go in the second half of the year. But I’m 27 now, I’ve been alone in Munich for five years. I don’t want to be alone anymore. I hope that things will work out soon. I am really hoping for that.

That almost sounds like wedding bells…

Demichelis: We’ll see. I am happy and in love – everything else is just a matter of time.

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