After initially retiring from football last summer, Tom Starke was called out of retirement to re-join the ranks at Bayern Munich after Manuel Neuer sustained a foot injury back in September. Neuer’s injury is set to keep him sidelined until early March, so Sven Ulreich has been acting has his replacement, though Starke has featured twice in the league since re-joining, recording two clean sheets (1-0 wins) against Eintracht Frankfurt and FC Köln.
FC Bayern’s website had the chance to sit down and catch up with Starke, and he touched base upon how he’s felt since returning to the fold, how he helps out at the FC Bayern Campus, and facing his former club, SC Paderborn in the DFB Pokal quarter-finals next month.
Starke admitted that he didn’t take much convincing to return after Neuer re-injured his foot. The decision, for him, was a no-brainer:
I didn’t have to consider it. We had agreed last season that they can always count on me if necessary. None of us had expected the situation to arise so quickly. We hoped Manuel would stay fit after the long injury spell. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Hasan Salihamidzic called me, and it was clear to me straightaway I’d step in. But I absolutely wanted to pursue my job at the same time to continue to be there for the lads.
In addition to serving as Ulreich’s backup for the time being, Starke is also a goalkeeping coordinator at Bayern’s academy campus, where he’s responsible for the keepers from the U-9’s up to the U-19’s, as well as the reserves. Between the physically demanding training sessions and coaching, Starke admits that his passion for the club and the game itself overrides the toll it takes on his body:
I train at the Säbener Strasse in the morning, complete the necessary regeneration exercises and go to the Campus after lunch. I complete my tasks there, and around 17.30 I’m out on the pitch with the lads. It’s okay in terms of the body, you have to come to terms with it mentally. But it’s so much fun that I don’t need to motivate myself. I can play and pursue my hobby here and introduce my ideas at the Campus. The facility is unique in Germany.
Bayern are just two and a half weeks away from their DFB Pokal clash against SC Paderborn, where Starke spent a season and a half from 2006 to 2007. Looking ahead to the tie, he’s excited to return, but comically stated that Bayern are the odds-on favorites to advance to the semi-finals:
I’m looking forward to returning. The reaction was a bit ironic of course. For example if we were satisfied with a 3-0 victory for Paderborn. (laughing) Of course there was a lot of fun involved. I think we’re the toughest draw they could have had. They’ll give it everything. It’ll surely be the match of the year for them.
Bayern are indeed lucky to have Tom Starke, who has even acquired his own hashtag late in his career: #StarkeDieKrake (“Starke the kraken”).