'Americans have taken FC Bayern to their hearts'
He's still got it. With his first attempt, Lothar Matthäus blasted in a goal that put the Bayern Legends team on the path to victory in a five-a-side tournament. "It's like riding a bike," smirked the 57-year-old afterwards. The seven-time Bundesliga winner was also in demand off the pitch as he signed autographs and posed for selfies, yet Matthäus still found time for an interview with fcbayern.com.
Interview with Lothar Matthäus
You're travelling with FC Bayern on the Audi Summer Tour USA 2018. How did that come about?
Lothar Matthäus: "I've never really left FC Bayern. I've always had a very good relationship with a lot of the staff or players, and I've always kept in touch with the bosses through interviews or events like the title celebration. I played in the USA for a year and it was great there."
How are you finding the Tour?
Matthäus: "Very good! When I'm out and about, the American fans come up to me and recognise me. That's really nice after such a long time and it also surprises me a bit. There are a lot of people here who are originally from South America, and obviously they're football-mad. The trip has been perfectly organised, as you expect from Bayern. The club has presented itself brilliantly."
What's your function?
Matthäus: "Along with Giovane Elber, Raimond Aumann and Martin Demichelis, we're representing the club as ambassadors. We have a lot of engagements with fans and media, such as TV or radio appearances, photoshoots or training sessions with kids. The people have taken FC Bayern to their hearts. It's certainly a lot of work but in a very relaxed atmosphere."
You've also had the opportunity to have a bit of a kickabout, and we've seen that you've not lost it.
Matthäus: "Thankfully I don't have any physical problems, I'm still in good shape. Plus, it's like riding a bike. If you've done it once, then you'll be a bit shaky when you get back on after a long time but you can still ride."
How do the fans in the States view FC Bayern?
Matthäus: "We've already been to a few fan clubs and there's always a great atmosphere there. There's a lot of passion behind it, which you can tell because they have old kits as well as the new one. They see FC Bayern in the same way as the fans in Germany, so it's great that we do this Tour. Fans have travelled from all over the States to see the players live. I'm happy I can give them something back. The players are also conducting themselves very well. It was great that, despite the bad weather and the defeat, they still did a lap of honour after the Juventus game in Philadelphia."
You played in MLS for a year yourself. What memories do you have from that time?
Matthäus: "It was all still quite amateurish, particularly with regards to travel, pre-season and the training facilities. It was nevertheless very interesting and I got to know America. I took a lot from it. On the pitch we were very successful despite not having any big names in the squad. We won the Eastern Conference and reached the semi-finals of the championship, which no one would've expected. I very much enjoyed my life there both on and off the pitch."
How has football in America developed since?
Matthäus: "It's all become more professional. There are more and more young American players coming through, the stadiums have become proper football stadiums and attendances are growing. It's increasingly adapted to European football, which has been a big benefit for US football. The sport is gaining more acceptance and respect. Obviously, the high number of immigrants also helps as they bring their enthusiasm. A South American will never be an ice hockey fan, they'll always be a football fan."
You've also been able to get a look at the team. What do you expect from FC Bayern this season?
Matthäus: "To be dominant, aggressive and get forward quickly. There are a lot of quick players in the squad. I hope they have the same hunger as in recent years."