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Holger Badstuber exclusive

‘I’m starting a new chapter’

Holger Badstuber has blanked 1 December 2012 from his consciousness. Bayern were at home to Dortmund, the game which marked the start of a long and painful period for the defender due to a twice-torn cruciate ligament. But seemingly endless hours in sports rehab will soon be in the past as Badstuber is closer to a comeback than ever. He has resumed the squad training programme and his first match after injury is only a matter of time. Speaking exclusively to Holger reflected on the toughest period of his career to date, but concentrated mainly on what the future holds for him personally.

Interview: Holger Badstuber Holger, you had your hair cut short a couple of weeks ago. Does this symbolise a new beginning?
Holger Badstuber: I wanted to get rid of my long hair a while back, and this was the right time. It’s the summer and it’s good to feel the sun on your scalp. (laughs) But seriously, it’s true about a new beginning. I’m starting a new chapter, a great thing I can look forward to.

You resumed the team training programme a short time ago for the first time since your serious injury...

It was a special day for me and an unbelievable feeling. It’s made me even more determined, motivated and focused. I’m a proper member of the team again at last.

What’s still missing of the ‘old’ Holger Badstuber?

At the moment I’m just delighted to have made so much progress, although I’m aware I have to get a few percent better in many areas: pace, tackling, turning, stamina, power, shooting – I’m not quite up to speed yet in almost every respect. Every intense workout really helps me enormously.

Do you still hold back when it comes to certain movements?

Not at all. My knee feels great, although I’ve not tried slide tackling again yet. But that’ll change soon enough. (laughs)

How did you feel physically after the first few team sessions?

It took some getting used to. I felt a few twinges and aches, but it was a price I was happy to pay. I’ve had a lot more painful things to deal with…

You’re currently training with the reserves - why?

Individual workouts are part of my programme, but every team training session is invaluable. I make the football-specific moves and I get back into the groove, so it’s priceless.

Might you feature for the reserves in the promotion play-offs against Fortuna Köln?

No, it’s not an option. I’m not ready – I’ve not had a single game yet. I’d like to lay down a good foundation by the time the senior team restarts training and then go for it 100 percent. That’s my solitary target.

What’s your schedule for the next few weeks?

I have to stick at it and keep up my training, but it’s also important I give my body plenty of rest, because it’s been through a lot over the last few months. I’m gonna allow myself a couple of weeks on vacation and just switch off!

How much are you looking forward to rejoining the fight for trophies in a playing capacity next term?

Totally! It means I can finally enjoy the game that I do best and love the most all over again.

Will you be 100 percent fit and ready for the start of the new season?

I’ll need to be patient – matches are always very different to training. I mustn’t overdo it. But I don’t want to be too patient and spend months saying: 'It’ll be OK again soon enough.' I know what I’m capable of.

Has this been the most difficult time in your career?

Absolutely. The worst thing for an athlete is not being able to play. The time away from playing seems to go on for ever. But I never came close to thinking: 'I can’t face it any more.' I always knew I’d be back.

Even after your second cruciate ligament rupture?

Obviously the onset of complications was a bitter blow. But the docs told me: You can make a 100 percent recovery.' There was only one way to go for me after that. Obviously there were periods when progress was slow and you get stuck at a particular level. That’s when you have to be strong. And you need the right people around you, which is luckily what I had.

Who helped you the most?

Friends, family, people who had good and helpful advice. The coaching staff, and FC Bayern in general. A lot of components came together. With that level of support, including the efforts of the club, I’d have given myself a clip round the ear if I’d started thinking: I’ll jack it in now.

What form did the support take?

The club has always given me the feeling they were looking forward to my return and that it’ll be like having a new signing this summer. It’s fantastic when you realise the other players are just as delighted about my progress, it’s amazingly helpful. But at the end of the day you obviously have to get through on your own.

Did you still dream of going to the World Cup in Brazil at any point?

I did hold out just a tiny glimmer of hope, if I’m honest. Everything would have had to go perfectly. But at some point I accepted it wasn’t to be. All I wanted from then on was a healthy, stable knee. And not just for a year or two, for another ten.

Will you follow the World Cup as a fan?

I’ll watch a few matches, but not all. There are still a few regrets and a bit of pain about not being out on the pitch as a player. There’s nothing bigger than the World Cup for a player. Fortunately I’m still young and there’ll hopefully be a couple more major tournaments in my career.