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Zvonko Komes:

'Bayern Munich was a career highlight'

Even on the paradise island of Bali, Zvonko Komes has not been allowed to switch off completely. He appeared for a chat with glistening with sweat from a beach volleyball session. Fitness coach Komes joined Bayern a year ago but is leaving the club along with Ottmar Hitzfeld on 30 June. The 49-year-old Croat expressed a tinge of sadness, although that was thoroughly outweighed by gratitude to the club. “I’ve had the chance to work with Bayern Munich for a year. That’s phenomenal, a highlight in my career.”

That was partly due to an exceptionally productive working relationship with Hitzfeld, commented Komes, a fitness specialist for 28 years and now up to 13 trophies in football after Bayern’s domestic double. “Ottmar Hitzfeld was open to my methods, always supported me and was always ready for an analysis and a discussion. I’ve learned a huge amount from him, how a top coach works at a top club, for example.”

Shaped by England

However, it was assistant coach Michael Henke who brought the Croat to Munich after the pair worked together for Kaiserslautern in 2005-6. “Michael Henke was very happy with me in Kaiserslautern. He was initially a little sceptical because he feared a crop of injuries if I kept up my punishing training routines, but in fact the opposite happened.”

Komes' philosophy and ideas largely derive from three seasons spent in the English Premier League. The basis of his methods is “a system used by many English teams focused on speed and explosiveness.” Bayern’s performance a few days ago in the tropical heat of Jakarta testified to Komes’ success. “We’ve reached a high level and maintained it.”

Tailored programmes

Komes is a stickler for working on individual players’ weaknesses. “A trainer needs to analyse how best to help a player. For example, if I know a couple of players have hamstring problems, I’ll give them specific exercises.”

The objective is to reduce the risk of further injury. “We had eight injured players at the start of the season, but they’re almost all fit now,” the coach points out, “I’m very, very satisfied with what I’ve achieved. All the players now know their biggest injury risks. The entire team’s learned a lot, and I’m proud of that.”

Accompanying Hitzfeld

Komes is intrigued by the fitness methods Jürgen Klinsmann plans to introduce. “I think what Klinsmann intends to do is phenomenal,” he reveals after a chat with Marcelo Martins, a member of the new fitness team at the club. “What we’ve been doing isn’t far from what Klinsmann wants to do.” The new staff will inherit “a very good basis. Klinsmann isn’t starting with nothing.”

Komes is keen to remain associated with the Bundesliga. “Germany is a good place for me to work. It’s organised and disciplined,” he comments. He has yet to find a new club, “but I’ve had a couple of offers.” His relationship to Hitzfeld will definitely continue, as the General wishes Komes to take responsibility for the Swiss national team’s fitness. “I’ll sign the contract once we’re back from Asia,” Komes reveals. Before then, he is enjoying a more or less relaxing time in Bali.