In this edition of The Talking Game, former Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder Dietmar Hamann talks with Amlan Majumdar about his childhood inspirations and his thoughts on the Champions’ League Final.
Dietmar Hamann, or Didi Hamann as he is often called, was an integral part of the Bayern Munich side which won the UEFA Cup back in 1996 and then went on to win the Champions League with Liverpool under Rafa Benitez in 2005. The former German international has stayed back in England even after retirement, after playing for four different English clubs – the last as a player manager with MK Dons. But his spell at Liverpool, undoubtedly remains the most memorable one in his career – interestingly he even has a scouser accent. Amlan quizzes the former midfielder about his his life in England, beers, his Liverpool days and German football.
Amlan Majumdar: Who is that one person who has made the biggest impact on your career?
Dietmar Hamann: My father coached me for 6 years, from the age of 10 to 16. He played the biggest part in my development.
Q : Who was your inspiration during your childhood? Was there any particular footballer you wanted to emulate in your career?
Hamann : Zico and Michel Platini.
Q : Is it true that you played as a right winger during the start of your Bayern career?
Hamann : I never played as a right winger, I played as right sided defensive midfielder.
Q : Bayern faced some internal struggle when Otto Rehhagel took over as the manager and he was eventually sacked. What exactly went wrong during that season?
Hamann : Otto Rehhagel got sacked before the UEFA-Cup final. We had a lot of stars and big egos. At times the team was nearly impossible to coach.
Hamann : Giovanni Trapattoni played a big part, as he spent numerous hours after training on the pitch with us younger players. Nothing was too much for him. He taught me a lot tactically.
Q : What was the biggest difference from a cultural point of view (other than beer) that you found in England? Was adaptation a problem?
Hamann : The biggest difference was the pace of the Premier League. Culturally I had no problems adapting.
Q : Back to Beer – how badly did you miss German beer?
Hamann : I don’t miss it. There are some decent beers here in the UK.
Q : What did you find so interesting about life in North England that prompted you to stay here, rather than moving back to Germany?
Hamann : I like the English way of living especially in the North West – very friendly and relaxing.
Q : Coming back to football, what was Rafa Benitez’s team talk during the half-time interval of the 2005 Champions League?
Hamann : I was only in dressing room for two minutes! Rafa just went through the formation and set pieces, and then I left to get warmed up.
Q : Who was your best mate in the Liverpool dressing room?
Hamann : Michael Owen.
Q : One doesn’t always come across a German who is a cricket fan. How and when did you fall in love with this game?
Hamann : I fell in love when I watched the Ashes a few years back. I have followed it ever since.
Q : Leaving Liverpool must have been a hard decision for you to take, now when you look back do you feel that you could have played for one more season or two?
Hamann : I had one year left but felt it’s the right time to go.
Q : Before joining Manchester City, you were in talks with Bolton Wanderers, what forced you to change your decision about joining Bolton in the last minute?
Hamann : I just made a mistake committing to Bolton.
Q : Your managerial career didn’t start on a bright note, but will we see you in this role in the near future or will you concentrate on your career in the media?
Hamann : I am about to finish my Pro-license, so managing is an option for me.
Q : You were a member of the Bayern Munich side that peaked during the late nineties and early 2000’s. What according to you is the major difference between that side and the current crop?
Hamann : Difference is that this group has been to finals but haven’t won it yet, whereas the 2001 crop did
Q : Who has been the key addition to Bayern Munich this season?
Hamann : Javi Martinez.
Q : As a midfielder do you support the false nine approaches that Germany have been using lately and do you see it being successful in Germany?
Hamann : Depends on the players you have got. I think Klose or Mario Gomez should play.
Q : After the convincing performances from both the German sides in the Champions League, most of the fans and experts pointed it out as the moment which will mark as the beginning of a new world order. Do you agree with it?
Hamann : The national team has been consistent without winning anything, but German club football is certainly on the rise.
Q : Which German youngster according to you has the most potential among the new crop?
Hamann : Marco Reus.
Q : What is the cutting edge difference in how football was run in Germany during your time and now?
Hamann : Young players are given a chance if they are good enough.
Q : What are your thoughts on the final of the UEFA Champions League? What is your prediction?
Hamann : If Goetze is fit then, I will fancy Borussia Dortmund.
Q : Your thoughts on Jamie Carragher and Sir Alex Ferguson – both of whom are retiring at the end of this season?
Hamann : Two fantastic ambassadors for their respective clubs and the Premier League, they will be missed.
Q : The final question – do you think Brendan Rodgers is the right man to lead Liverpool back to its glory days?
Hamann : He needs all the backing. Time will tell, but I am very hopeful.