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Badstuber: Putting in a shift again feels great

Holger Badstuber is on his way back. The Bayern central defender completes his rehab programme at the Säbener Strasse on Friday. He has been working in Klaus Eder’s rehabilitation centre in Donaustauf over the past few months. Badstuber is now at the next stage on a long road to recovery.

The central defender suffered a first torn cruciate just over a year ago on 1 December 2012 in a Bundesliga meeting with Borussia Dortmund. He tore his cruciate again five months later in May. The 24-year-old has undergone four operations in the past twelve months with the last one involving transplanting a section of the anterior ligament in his left knee to his right knee to form a new cruciate ligament.

Badstuber shows no signs at all of the long lay-off. He put his crutches away weeks ago and was in relaxed mood when he spoke frankly to about the past few months. The Germany defender has dealt amazingly well with his enforced absence through injury.

Interview: Holger Badstuber: Holger, how are you getting on?
Holger Badstuber: I feel really good. My rehab has been great up to now and I’m making constant progress. I’m happy with where I’m at but I know there’s still a lot of hard graft ahead.

So everything’s going to plan?
You could say that. I feel much better compared to the period after the first torn cruciate. I’m a bit further on now than I was at the same time back then. I’ve recently been able to extend the scope and intensity of my training regime. It feels good and it’s great fun being able to put in a shift again.

You spent a lot of time in Donaustauf. How does it feel to be back at the Säbener Strasse?
I missed the contact with the rest of the squad. But I made a conscious decision to start my rehab elsewhere. I wanted to do something different from the last time and have a different environment to focus on my recovery.

You weren’t on your own in Donaustauf. For example, you met Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and Hamit Altintop there.
That was really helpful. We talked a lot about old times and helped each other out. I think we all benefited from that coincidence. And now I know everything about knee injuries. (smiles)

You tore your cruciate for the first time almost exactly a year ago. How much does that affect you now?
I do think about what happened a year ago. But I’m not obsessed about it. The past twelve months have been a very valuable lesson for me. There were a lot of ups and downs. The setback of the second rupture was a bitter blow. But I think I’ve grown as a human being during this period. I’ve learnt a lot both on and off the pitch. I’m facing a new start now and I’m certain I’ll get back in  the squad.

Was the shock after the second rupture in May greater than with the first?
It’s definitely not a day I want to remember. Things like that don’t happen very often but unfortunately it did in my case. But we have to go on. I’ve got a new cruciate and I’m doing really well with it.

Did you ever think you wouldn’t be able to play professionally again?
No, I never had any doubts. I can’t even remember going through a really bad patch. After the second tear I did say to myself: OK, everything’s just been put back a bit. I was always fully convinced I’d get fully fit again. The doctors kept telling me that. So I never doubted I would make a full recovery.

You went to the USA to see Dr. Steadman straight after the second tear. Did being away during winning the treble help you?
It was exactly the right decision. The squad was preparing for the final at Wembley, the atmosphere was euphoric throughout the club – and I couldn’t be there. So being away did help. I was able to concentrate on myself.

What did you do to keep busy when you were sidelined?
I read books, listened to a lot of music and did a lot that you don’t normally have time for as a pro. But football was always in the background. I watched all our games wherever I happened to be. For example, I watched the Champions League final and the Cup final in Berlin a week later live on TV in the USA. I was rooting for the team and really happy for the lads.

Your team-mates held your shirt up to the cameras after both triumphs. How did that make you feel?
I only found out about that later on via the internet as the American broadcasters ended their coverage immediately after the final whistle. I was really happy that the team thought of me. I was really touched by that gesture. I’ll never forget it.

Pep Guardiola has been the head coach at FCB since the summer. Are you in contact with each other?
We’re in touch all the time. He’s always stayed up-to-date on what I’m doing. I think he’s a big plus for Bayern. He’s very meticulous in his work and he wants to perfect the team. I think we can go to the next level with his way of playing football.

The World Cup is on the agenda next summer. Are you thinking about it?
I think it’s best for me not to think about the World Cup at the moment. I’m only concerned about getting fully fit again. That’s the be-all and end-all for me.

What’s your New Year resolution?
To get and stay fit so I can play football again – that’s all I want for myself.