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Exclusive interview, part 1

Lahm: I can’t put my happiness into words

Philipp Lahm captains both Bayern and Germany. He is a father, and he recently turned 30. The player can already look back on an exceptional footballing career, but the year 2013 has eclipsed everything else so far. After a string of near misses, he and Bayern reaped the fruits of long years of toil and brought home international honours.

During the holiday season the Germany international has relaxed with his family and reflected on a momentous period for him and the club, after which he took time out to speak to In part one of our exclusive interview, he focused on the Champions League and the Club World Cup.

Interview with Philipp Lahm, part 1 Philipp, have you enjoyed the Christmas holiday season?
Philipp Lahm:
Of course. It was cosy and warm as always. We had venison and Spätzle [a form of pasta]. Christmas Eve is always a protracted affair in our family because my mother-in-law has her birthday on Christmas Day, so we have to keep going beyond midnight. It means we have plenty of time for presents and dinner (laughs).

How much were you looking forward to the holidays after such an eventful 2013?
It’s been very, very good to have some time off. It’s been incredibly demanding, both physically and mentally. Our international players have basically had two matches a week all season, so we were all looking forward to the mid-season break. But the Club World Cup was another highlight to end the year. It was easy to summon up our last reserves of energy, and it was the perfect end to an unbelievable year.

How does the title ‘club world champions’ sound a few days after the event?
Just as good as it did at the time. The tournament in Morocco was a fantastic new experience, and who knows whether I’ll ever experience it again? Obviously I hope so, but we all know how difficult it is to win the Champions League.

Why does the Club World Cup not have the same standing in Europe as it does in South America or Asia, for example?
Because the best clubs in the world are in Europe and the Champions League overshadows everything else here. The Champions League winners would normally have such immense quality that you have to assume they can deal with teams from the other continents, with the possible exception of the South Americans.

Have you been in touch with Jupp Heynckes since the Club World Cup?
Not in the last few days, but we do stay in touch and text each other regularly. He made a huge contribution to our success this year. Without him we wouldn’t have contested the European Super Cup, and wouldn’t have been at the Club World Cup. We mustn’t forget this.

The year 2013 has been packed with highlights but what was your personal favourite?
If I have to choose then obviously it’s the moment I lifted the European cup in London. I can’t really put my feeling of happiness into words. Our hard work paid off at last, it worked out for us at last, and I finally had the thing in my hands. It was so thrilling and a magnificent moment.

Can you remember how you felt as you mounted the steps at Wembley?
Yes, and very precisely too! I was thinking about the previous year and the unbelievably agonising minutes after the final in Munich. All these thoughts came back to me at that moment. Thankfully, it was completely the reverse in London.

Have you watched the Champions League final victory on TV since then?
I’ve never consciously sat down and watched the whole thing. A mate of mine came round the day after the match. By chance the game was being replayed on TV, but we just let it run in the background.

What made Bayern so strong throughout the year 2013?
There were two possible outcomes after the final in 2012: either we fell apart as a team, or we grew even closer together. The second of these is what happened. This footballing tragedy and our bitter tears of grief released incredible inner strength. That was our biggest trump card. On top of that, the squad was and is very, very strong. Every man stepped up when he was needed.

In part two of our interview, to be published on Wednesday, Lahm analyses why he instantly settled into the holding midfield role. The club captain also discusses Pep Guardiola, Thiago and Mario Götze, and looks forward to the second half of the season…