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Former FCB man Tarnat

‘I intended to quit playing three years ago’

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Saturday will be a little bit special for veteran Hannover 96 defender Michael Tarnat. He will clock up 100 appearances for the Lower Saxony outfit, but even more tellingly, he retains a strong emotional bond to Bayern. Tarnat played in Munich from 1997 to 2003, winning the Champions League, the World Club Cup, four league titles, and the DFB Cup three times. The player intends to settle in Munich once he finally hangs up his boots, and may even join the FCB staff, although the 39-year-old cannot say when that might be: “I originally intended to quit playing three years ago.”

Interview: Michael Tarnat

Hello Michael, you only ever played for Bayern at the Olympic stadium. Is the Allianz Arena still a little piece of home?
Michael Tarnat: “The Olympic stadium is basically my home ground, because that’s where I played for Bayern. The Allianz Arena is a wonderful stadium, but I do rather regard it as an away ground.”

Hannover have the worst away record in the league this season. What makes you think you might get a result in Munich?
“Just like every other visiting team, we have nothing to lose. Provided we get at them and don’t freeze, we’ll make chances. Bayern have had a very demanding week in the run-up to the game, and that could be our chance. If Bayern spot they’re up against a resilient and aggressive team, it could be hard going for them.”

Hannover have not matched expectations so far this term. What are the reasons for that?
“The main reason is our terrible form away from home. We’ve also suffered a number of injuries. Robert Enke was out for ages, Altin Lala as well. And Valérien Ismaël has yet to appear this season. I didn’t play before Christmas either. These are all important players. When you lose players of this calibre, it’s hard to lay down solid foundations.”

You come from the Rhineland, you play in Hanover, but you have a house here in Munich. When are you going to live in it?
(laughs) “I originally intended to quit playing three years ago, but then I spent almost 11 months on the sidelines with injury. During that period, I noticed something was missing in my life. I said to myself: OK, I’ll make one last attempt at a comeback. I wanted to see how far I could push it physically. And I’ve noticed that, as always, I just enjoy playing far too much. All my friends who are former players tell me the same thing: keep playing for as long as you can, there’s nothing finer. I can definitely second that opinion."