The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world for the worse, and it certainly has left its mark on the footballing world. Bayern Munich captain Manuel Neuer reflected on the changes that COVID has brought in an interview with t-online.de.
Perhaps this may come as a slight surprise to some people, but Neuer’s focus was not solely on football when it came to the pandemic.
“We have very different (bigger) problems in our society than empty stadiums,” he said. “We all want our normal life back first, and when I think of changes, I don’t think of football first.”
Neuer thus implied that he didn’t want to take professional football too seriously in the middle of a pandemic that has permanently changed the world, for good reason. Of course, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t take his job seriously, as many Bayern fans have seen through his astonishing performances over the past year.
However, Neuer has more pressing matters on his mind than stopping shots, and that is the issue of children who want to do the same, but are banned from sports due to COVID-19.
“It’s incredibly difficult to motivate children within your own four walls,” said Neuer. “I feel sorry for you, of course.”
The Bayern captain is now trying to use his career and position to give back to the children he is concerned about.
“I tried to give them home exercises on social media platforms,” he said. “As a footballer, I feel it is my duty to give something back to the children — especially in the current situation.”
Even without the pandemic, Neuer has his own Manuel Neuer Kids Foundation, an organization to help children from socially disadvantaged backgrounds around Germany in sports and life. In light of the current situation, it is clear that he feels the need to give even more support to the children that he already helps, being the exemplary role model that so many children look up to.
Other than coronavirus issues, Neuer chatted with t-online.de about a number of other topics, such as his possible retirement age. According to the goalkeeper, staying fit and relaxed outside of football is a key element in his longevity, and as long as he is feeling well, he has little interest in retiring.
He was also asked briefly about how “free” he feels as a professional football player idolized across the globe, but surprisingly enough, Neuer said that the people in Munich and Tegernsee (where he lives) mostly leave him be. Of course, some people will react differently in his presence, like, say, “an Asian tourist group at the Viktualienmarkt,” but he doesn’t mind the attention either, as such fans are also apparently mostly respectful.
That being said, there is one particular crowd that even Neuer tried to avoid: Oktoberfest. He apparently went all Clark Kent and put on a hat and glasses before taking a U-Bahn train to the festival. The reason? “The alcohol level rises and perhaps the inhibition threshold to speak to someone decreases,” he said with a laugh.
In short, people sometimes do dumb things when they’re drunk!