In an interview with Focus magazine (via tz), Bayern Munich center back Mats Hummels spoke on the immense pressure and anxiety that professional footballers face at one point or another during their careers. In particular, Hummels agreed with the comments made by his German national team teammate, Per Mertesacker, with whom Hummels won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Metersacker had recently come out and described the anxiety he experienced earlier in his career; most notably during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, when he was only 21 years old.
Showing plenty of compassion for his compatriot, Hummels admitted that feeling the pressure to perform at such a high level in the sport is completely natural, and that Mertesacker certainly isn’t the only one who’s been effected by it:
That happens to many players, not all. There are different personalities on the team. There are players that feel it [stress] more. Per is by far not alone in this respect. That is by no means an individual phenomenon. You can’t debate feelings. When someone feels pressure, then that is how it is. You then also have to respect it. Period.
While Hummels had plenty of sympathy for his former Die Mannschaft teammate, he said that he’s never had much of a problem himself in dealing with high pressure situations; and he’s been in plenty of them throughout his career - World Cup finals, Champions League finals, cup finals, he’s done it all. When asked about how he deals with pressure, his response was short and sweet:
It’s perhaps a little bit lucky that that’s how I am. I have the feeling that I can always keep calm, even when things get hectic and others lose their nerve.
For Mertesacker, he should have absolutely no regrets for retrospectively coming out and explaining how he had a difficult time with pressure and anxiety in the earlier parts of his career. With issues like this, containing the fact that you’re dealing with them is almost twice as hard as they actually make you feel. Hummels did the right thing by standing by his former teammate in a warming display of companionship.
After the end of this season with Arsenal, Metersacker will hang up his playing boots and become the head of the club’s youth academy. After making 104 appearances for the German National Team, there will also be a farewell match for him in October at the HDI Arena in Hannover, where he spent three years of his career.