Created on 17-01-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern’s winter training camp in Marbella is not like any other for Michael Rensing. Oliver Kahn, his captain, team-mate and rival for the number one goalkeeping slot at the club, is completing the last of “fifty or more training camps,” but for Rensing it is the final mid-season fitness get-together before he officially takes over Kahn’s mantle this summer.
At the age of 38, Kahn is ending his career after 20 years at the top and more than 500 Bundesliga appearances, with Rensing lined up to follow in the three-time World Goalkeeper of the Year’s footsteps. “I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Rensing confirmed for fcbayern.de on Thursday.
Coming on a treat
The youngster deserved his “promotion”, Kahn declared the previous day. “He’s ready. He’s earned the chance, and he should be given it. He’s come on very, very well in recent years, and he’s reached exactly the right moment to prove he’s capable of consistently excellent displays at a club of Bayern’s stature.”
Kahn felt compelled to remind his successor of the demands inherent in the job. “It’s a huge ask and a lot of pressure for a young man,” he warned, although Rensing “should be allowed to make mistakes. However, he’s had plenty of games where he’s shown he’s up to it and can be relied upon.“
General manager Uli Hoeneß declared his unconditional trust in Rensing some time ago, stating that the 23-year-old would “without question“ inherit the goalkeeping position from Kahn. Speaking last weekend, Ottmar Hitzfeld’s successor Jürgen Klinsmann also appears convinced by the former Germany U-21 shot-stopper. “I have the impression Jürgen thinks a lot of Michael,” Hoeneß reported.
“I’m naturally delighted at the level of backing from the club,” commented Rensing, “I always train and prepare myself before matches as if I was going to play.“ Klinsmann’s reported opinion was an honour, he felt. “He’s a fan of active goalkeeping, and that’s definitely good for me.”
Learning from the master
Rensing, yet to lose with the senior side in 18 league and four European appearances, intends to use the last few months as Kahn’s deputy to learn as much as possible from the world-class keeper. “We’ve trained together at the highest level for five years now, so obviously you watch and learn a lot,” he remarked, revealing that his personal relationship with Kahn had “continually improved“ with the passage of time. “We lark about a lot, but we respect each other.“
The 23-year-old is in no way overawed by the prospect of stepping up to the top job. “Either you have the quality or you don’t,” he declared. The post of deputy to Rensing has yet to be filled. Nineteen-year-old prospect Thomas Kraft will join the senior squad from the third division reserves, but an experienced shot-stopper may also be recruited. “But it would have to be a man who doesn’t spend every week straining at the leash, demanding to take over whenever the lad makes a mistake. It would have to be someone comfortable with the job as number two,” Hoeneß commented.