The Hard Tackle was present as Borussia Dortmund legend and former German goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller visited Kolkata on Friday.
It was an exciting week for Borussia Dortmund fans in India as club legend Roman Weidenfeller visited Kolkata and Bangalore. The official fan club of Dortmund in India: The Yellow Wall India, set up a screening with the goalkeeper in Bangalore on Saturday while on Friday, he met with fans in a Q&A session at the Hyatt Regency, in Kolkata.
During his time in Kolkata, we managed to steal a little bit of time from his schedule as he agreed to do a separate interview for The Hard Tackle.
Meanwhile, you can also check out pictures and videos of Weidenfeller’s stay at Bangalore, on the official Facebook page or the Instagram handle of Yellow Wall India. You can also follow them on Twitter.
Jurgen Klopp is doing very well at Liverpool. You spent many years with him at Dortmund. How do you rate your experience with him and what do you think of his performance at Anfield?
Weidenfeller: I feel he has faced a similar situation at both the clubs. Dortmund was down when he arrived and similarly, Liverpool too were struggling before he replaced Brendan Rodgers in 2015.
He had a special spirit, a special feeling for his players, for the people and not just for the club. He admired all the people who worked for the club. His ability to push the players helped both Dortmund and Liverpool to reach the heights that they did.
Borussia Dortmund have come very close to winning the Bundesliga title, notably losing it by two points to Bayern Munich last season. Do you see something wrong with the mental aspect, when it comes to winning the championship?
Weidenfeller: The mentality of Dortmund, I’d say, is pretty big. They always want to win the Bundesliga. But, the players were lacking a bit of confidence in the second half of last season as they often lost points. They played excellent football in the Hinrunde but there was something lacking in the second half.
Also, the players, they were very young and I’m sure they will improve their mentality and put up a strong fight this season. Dortmund, as a club, has a lot of good players but they also send away some excellent players. So, it’s very important for them to keep finding good talents in order to keep up with Bayern Munich.
Do you like what Lucien Favre has done with Dortmund since taking charge? Critics have claimed that he has appeared very one-dimensional in his team selection. Do you agree with them?
Weidenfeller: Favre is a great coach. I think he has done an excellent job at Dortmund. They finished just behind Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season.
As for his selection, I think it is okay because sometimes too much selection changes in the first-team can be problematic and confusing for the players, especially the key ones.
You see coaches like Nagelsmann making four-five changes every week. I think that cannot be healthy for a team. So yeah, I think Favre is very good and he has done a great job.
Do you think Dortmund’s mentality in the market has changed? They have signed the likes of Haaland, Hazard and Brandt in recent years. So do you think they are now more aggressive in the market?
Weidenfeller: I feel everything has changed. Dortmund are definitely more hungry in the market. But then again, every club needs to change and keep adapting if they are to sustain their competition for the long term.
There has been an influx of young goalkeepers in Europe. For example, Bayern Munich have signed Alexander Nubel as a long-term replacement for Manuel Neuer. Do you think they deserve the chance instead of the ageing goalkeepers?
Weidenfeller: First of all, I don’t see anything wrong with Neuer. I feel in Germany, there are a lot of quality goalkeepers, who have a lot of talent and experience. They are also coached by excellent goalkeeping coaches.
As for a young goalkeeper, they must receive a chance to play sometimes. But, at the same time, it takes time for a youngster to integrate to the highest level of football. So one must always remain patient.
What do you think of data analysis in football? In recent years, especially in the Bundesliga, coaches like Julian Nagelsmann have talked about the importance of data in football. Do you agree with him?
Weidenfeller: It’s the future, yeah. It is very important to follow new ideas like data analysis. It helps create new tactics, new formations, for the player, for the teams and for the game. It is the future and it is very important to go with the future.
What do you think is the most essential thing when saving a penalty?
Weidenfeller: You have to be very careful. You have to first look into the player’s eyes and then his feet. It’s very important to improvise. Before the kick, we see a lot of videos of penalties taken by the shooter so we already have a lot of information.
But again, as I said, the scorer has also seen my videos and knows a lot about me. In the end, it depends on your instinct, not just physically but also mentally. I think that’s very important.
If you had to choose between becoming a fully-fledged media expert and a goalkeeping coach at Borussia Dortmund, what would you pick?
Weidenfeller: Right now, my job is being a TV expert. And I like my job a lot at the moment. After 20 years of professional football, I don’t like to go back to football just yet. So I don’t plan on becoming a goalkeeping coach for now. I am a little bit tired and I’d love to experience life in a little bit different way.
What was the feeling in the dressing room after that 7-1 win against Brazil in the semi-final?
Weidenfeller: I was really happy. I couldn’t believe it. We had a lot of respect for Brazil but all the players, they were simply caught in the moment and were just as overwhelmed as me.
Did it give you the belief that you guys were now the favourites to win the World Cup?
Weidenfeller: Yeah! After the win, we believed that we could now go on and win the World Cup. We had the people of Brazil cheering for us against Argentina. They pushed us to win the competition and we did! So we should also thank the Brazilian people.
The fans during the Q&A session also had their questions to Weidy. And we chose to extract some of the best ones here. You can also catch up with the highlights of that Q&A session on the official Facebook page of Yellow Wall India.
Fans: Are you happy with the way Roman Burki has performed since you retired? Who do you think Dortmund should sign as an alternative if any?
Weidenfeller: First of all, I think Roman Burki is an excellent goalkeeper. He is more talented than me and I know he is a great goalkeeper. He is also very emotional and very passionate. And I think this is why sometimes he makes errors. But, then again, it is hard being a goalkeeper.
Fans: Do you follow Indian football?
Weidenfeller: Just a little bit, not too much. I know Manuel Friedrich used to play here, in the national league. It was a great experience for him. For us, it was fantastic to watch him play in India.
I think this is a very big league and a lot of superstars play here like Freddie Ljungberg. And there is a stadium not far from here (referring to the Salt Lake Stadium) too, so yeah I think it is quite exciting, though I haven’t had the chance to visit the stadium yet.
Fans: Are we gonna see you managing Borussia Dortmund soon?
Weidenfeller: Well we already have a fantastic coaching staff at Dortmund, with Lucien Favre, Michael Zorc and behind him is Sebastian Kehl. All of them are really good. And no, I don’t feel like being a coach at the moment. I enjoy working in marketing along with Max more (Max Foerster, senior manager of BVB Asia-Pacific, who was present along with Weidenfeller).