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'It can't get any better'

Starke: That was a great bonus

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Tom Starke had to wait patiently until the beginning of March before his first Bundesliga start last season. The Bayern keeper was on the winning side that day as FCB defeated Hoffenheim 1-0 away from home. Bayern's number two kept a clean sheet in his first league game in the last campaign — and he repeated the feat this time round at Hannover after Pep Guardiola gave the 32-year-old shot-stopper the gloves for the first time this season. Starke showed his appreciation in the right and proper way by producing a perfect performance.

“I got straight off to a good start. It felt great,” explained Starke to the day after the win in Lower Saxony, “winning without conceding — it can't get any better.” Starke was called into action once or twice early on, particularly during the opening stages when FCB were looking to get into the game as Hannover pressed forward in determined mood. “I'm pleased for him. He had a very good game,” said Guardiola.

That was Bundesliga appearance number four between the sticks in a Bayern shirt for Starke. All those games ended in victory. What’s more, Starke has yet to concede a goal. That impressed his team-mates on the flight back home but they did pull his leg about his age. “That was all supposed to be a compliment,” said Starke.

'I love football'

Starke was slightly surprised when he was suddenly told he was playing against Hannover. “That was a great bonus,” said the keeper, “no training session can replace playing in front of 50,000 fans.” Guardiola said he fully deserved it. “He's never in a bad mood and he always trains really well. It's not always that easy when you're number two behind the best goalkeeper in the world.”

It was clear to see how happy Starke was at the chance to play on such a big stage again. “I love football. When I go onto the pitch, I want to do everything I can to win the game,” said the overjoyed goalkeeper. Starke is noted for his great qualities, both on and off the pitch. “He's very popular in the dressing room,” declared Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

In the eyes of sporting director Matthias Sammer, Starke plays an “incredibly important role in our success.” A lot of young players regularly seek advice from the experienced keeper. On top of that, Starke, Neuer and goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic are a great team in training, Sammer added: “I've always known we could rely on Tom.”