The wait is over! Fußballgott is finally coming home! Bastian Schweinsteiger will play his official testimonial match at the Allianz Arena against his current side, Chicago Fire, on Tuesday (FCBayern.com).
Schweinsteiger has arrived in Bavaria and has begun the training. In the wake of the legend's return to the Allianz Arena, Bayern Munich's monthly magazine 51 had him sit down for a long talk, discussing various topics from personal life to retirement.
Here are some excerpts from the interview:
When asked how much he misses his former club, he said that he still keeps contact with many Bayern players including Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer:
FC Bayern will always be in my heart. I watch most of the games on television. Fortunately, it’s easy keeping up-to-date with what’s happening in Munich. I’m still in contact with a couple of players including Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer. But, of course, I don’t get to hear about everything.
After he left Bayern, Schweinsteiger realized that the club is more popular than he had imagined:
I’d prefer to say I’ve gained another perspective. Now I can see how big Bayern are more than ever. It’s incredible how popular the club is here. We played in Vancouver recently. And lots of fans there wore Bayern shirts. After the games I always spend a bit of time with the fans. So that makes me feel like a bit of an ambassador.
The best thing, probably, about the testimonial match is that Schweinsteiger is playing against (and for) a team whose coach is the one who came off for him on his first ever Bundesliga game (vs Stuttgart on December 7, 2002):
It was my first Bundesliga game. We won 3-0.
Here's what he had to say about his former teammate and the current Bayern manager:
I think it’s a good fit. Niko and his brother Robert have the Bayern DNA. They know the club and the management very well. Both are definitely very motivated. I’m happy to see them back in Munich. Back then you could see he would be a coach someday. He played in holding midfield. He was very level-headed there in terms of tactics. Vision, organisation, discipline were all important to him. He was always very good at motivating himself and he always encouraged his team-mates too.
About his Bundesliga debut:
I was very nervous. It was the first time I’d been in the dressing room at the Olympic Stadium. I can still remember my shirt hanging on the hook. It was two sizes too big. And my surname, which is relatively long, just fitted on the back (laughs) The letters were narrowed so it looked better.
Farewell matches are always filled with lots of emotions. And when it comes to someone who spent half of his life playing for a club, it's definitely hard:
It’s hard to predict. In my farewell game with Germany I underestimated how emotionally I would react. There will certainly be a lot of memories. The beginnings, the wins, the experiences. It was a great time. I can hardly wait to get back on the pitch at the Allianz Arena and meet old friends and acquaintances. And, of course, the fans too. I haven’t been back there since my last game. Back then I didn’t have the chance to say farewell. That’s why I’m very grateful FC Bayern have arranged this farewell game.
The game that standouts in his career, according to him, is the 2012 UCL final defeat against Chelsea:
To be honest, a defeat comes to mind first: the final in 2012. That was perhaps the most bitter night of my career. But I think that game had a lot of repercussions. I’m convinced it was the starting point for us winning the Champions League in 2013 and the World Cup in 2014.
Unlike most of the other players, Schweinsteiger has been through everything just to find himself raising the trophy in the end. His career is a saga of mixed emotions:
At some point, you do realise you might be a very good player. But you have to go that extra bit further for the last three or four per cent. It’s a skill to coax out those little things. Jupp Heynckes could do it like no one else. We all upped our game after the defeat against Chelsea. It was great the way we stuck together. And it was the same for the national team. We were always close but never lifted the World Cup. When we won the Champions League and the World Cup it was like a weight was lifted after the final whistle. At last, I’d done it at last!
About his retirement and future plans:
I feel good physically. It’s fun going to training every day. I’ve played in every game. If Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wants to make me an offer then I might consider it (laughs) I think I can play for another two or three years. But I’ll take it season by season. Then I'll probably take a back seat for a while and spend time with my wife and my son. Of course, I’ll keep in touch with football. But first of all I want to take a break.
Welcome back, and good luck, Bastian!