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Lahm: You can always fine-tune and improve

Philipp Lahm has clocked up plenty of miles attending FC Bayern training camps over the years, in the Black Forest, Malaga, New York, Shanghai, Dubai, Tokyo and now Qatar again. And he’s not finished yet. “I guess it’s approximately my 22nd training camp,” the captain exclusively told The 32-year-old also recalled Felix Magath’s boot camps, revealed the ‘in’ spot at any camp, spoke of a problem with card games, and set a clear target for the rest of the season: “We have to win trophies.”

Interview: Philipp Lahm Philipp, how many training camps have you attended?
Lahm: “Hmm, I’ve been a pro for 12 years... I was injured a couple of times... so I guess it’s approximately my 22nd training camp.” You’ve had camps supervised by various coaches: Hermann Gerland, Ottmar Hitzfeld, Felix Magath, Louis van Gaal and Pep Guardiola to name but a few. Whose camps were the toughest?
Lahm: “Felix Magath’s. Running and circuit training were the top priorities. It was torture at times and can’t be compared to a camp like the one here with Pep Guardiola.” Magath famously loved drills featuring medicine balls, but nowadays all we see is footballs.
Lahm: “Times have changed, simple as that. I wouldn’t say it was worse in the past, it was just different. Fitness remains a priority, although as a player you’re always more comfortable with the ball at your feet.” Why is the time spent at a training camp more valuable than simply working out on the practice ground at home?
Lahm: “On the one hand it’s due to the much better weather elsewhere compared to Munich in January, and on the other you’re more focused. There are no distractions. You relax between the two workouts each day, and you don’t go straight home after the second one, you go for treatment. You have plenty of time for yourself and your body.” Does the 32-year-old Philipp Lahm approach a training camp differently compared to the 20-year-old you?
Lahm: “I certainly have different feelings about the week spent at the camp. I have a family now and it’s always a shame when I’m away travelling. You don’t think about that kind of thing as a younger man.” The holidays have only just ended. Did you take time off from sport?
Lahm: “I did at the start. I wanted to switch off and not think about football at all. But then I started running again so as to be ready for the mid-season preparations.” Bayern’s football has been dominant, flexible and successful so far this season. Is there anything left to work on?
Lahm: “You can always fine-tune and improve, and that’s what we’re working on. It’s also important we get the injured players back. We’ve laid solid foundations, but you always have to take the season as a whole. We have to win trophies.” When there’s no training and treatment, what do you do with your limited free time here at the camp?
Lahm: “I’ve brought a couple of books with me and I watch movies, although we often end up gathering around the physios. That’s always the ultimate meeting place at a training camp with lots of the guys, plenty of entertainment and massage as well. What could be better?” Do you play Schafkopf, the traditional Bavarian card game, here at the camp?
Lahm: “Not any more, alas. We’ve been hit by some unfortunate departures in recent years and now we’re a player short. There’s only Thomas [Müller], Manu [Neuer] and me left. It’s a great shame.” After training you’re often involved in spontaneous and very lively crossbar challenges. Will we see a contest or two here in Doha?
Lahm: “I’m sure we will. It’s great fun. The vital thing is to get as many points as possible right at the start so you don’t end up as what we call the Arschbolzen in goal (laughs). But up to now I can’t complain.”