Gerland: I never wanted to leave

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DFB Cup quarter-finals, VfL Bochum v FC Bayern: the ultimate game for FCB assistant coach Hermann Gerland, whose love for VfL endures to this day. The 61-year-old was born in Bochum and VfL was the only club he played for in his entire career as a pro, scoring four goals in 204 Bundesliga appearances from 1972 to 1984. He later began his coaching career at the same club, first with the U-19s, followed by a spell as first team assistant coach, then as head coach from 1986 to 1988. The Bochum fans recently voted him into the VfL "Legends XI." Speaking to the Tiger reflects on his VfL and Bochum:

"Two or three years ago I was at the Christmas market at Husemannplatz in Bochum. Two ladies, about ten years older than me, approached me and said: 'You're our Hermann, aren't you?!' – I replied: 'Yes.' – 'Oh, it was lovely when you were still here.' Things like these... I really like this city, and the people there who speak their minds. I genuinely never wanted to leave Bochum. But as it is I've been away since 1988.

I was born in Bochum, I attended kindergarten and school there. I completed my banking apprenticeship there. And I played football there. I don't need a navigation device in Bochum, I can go almost anywhere by foot. I know the people, they know me. I'd instantly sacrifice every Weißwurst and every filet steak for a banger in Bochum. When I'm grilling at home there's always a Bratwurst from Bochum involved.

As a 14-year-old I played for a small club in the suburbs, Bochum-Weitmar, against VfL in the district championship final. We lost 3-1 but I scored the only goal for my team. VfL asked me if I wanted to join them. At 15 I changed clubs, and then I featured at every level from U-17 to head coach in the Bundesliga. I owe a lot to the club and especially Ottokar Wüst, who was a brilliant president. It was a huge display of trust that VfL gave me the possibility to be a Bundesliga head coach at 32 years of age.

I always felt at home with VfL, and I always tried to give everything I could for the club. Sometimes it turned out to be enough, sometimes it didn't. A team-mate once told me: 'Hey, Eiche ('Oak;' that's what they call me in Bochum)! If we're relegated I couldn't care less, I'll just leave.' I answered, 'You're out of your mind! I was born here. When I'm out for a walk in the city people point at me. I don't want to be relegated!' Despite modest resources we always managed to stay in the Bundesliga at the time: the solidarity, the sense of unity was greater than at other clubs.

This solidarity has survived to this day. I talk to my former team-mate Ata Lameck on the phone on an almost daily basis. In December I always visit the Bochum Christmas market with the lads – with my former team-mates and those I coached. In the last few years we've also met in summer. It brings 30 to 50 people together. We retell the old stories, we say how good we were at that time. And when we've had a beer or whisky too much we think we could have won the Champions League, or at least participated in it. TV star Thorsten Legat always tells us what it was like to be coached by me in the U-17s. Apparently it wasn't so easy... We have lots of fun!

I fondly remember the time in Bochum. But I've worked for FC Bayern for 19 years too, the same time as for Bochum. I'd be pleased if VfL got promoted and we could play against them in the Bundesliga over the next few years. But one thing is clear: In the DFB Cup tie on Wednesday I want FC Bayern to go through. We want to make the final!"


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