Schweinsteiger: Can't wait for the Arena and the fans
The football legend is where Chicago is literally at its most magnificent. At the Magnificent Mile in the heart of the American city, with its population of 3 million, the skyscrapers glow gold in the light of the morning sun. The Wrigley Building was the agreed meeting point and Bastian Schweinsteiger arrived in a black SUV on the dot. "Hello," he announced with a broad smile. Shorts, a blue, casual short-sleeved shirt, sunglasses in the front pocket. A couple of photos and he wanted to move on. "Get in!" A few weeks before he comes to Munich to play in his farewell match, the 2013 treble winner visited the team from the club's 51 magazine. fcbayern.com brings you an edited version of the interview in the current edition.
Interview with Bastian Schweinsteiger
Thank you for the sightseeing tour, Bastian. How's life in Chicago?
Bastian Schweinsteiger: “Relaxed. I can't go round Munich without a cap and sunglasses. Whereas I can here. In fact, my wife is recognised more than me – but she is a bit prettier. (He laughs) That's why we always go out separately: She goes first and I follow. (He laughs) No, to be serious: We really feel at home in Chicago. Nevertheless, you sometimes miss one or two things from back home."
What for example?
Schweinsteiger: "Friends and family. The mountains. And Kaiserschmarrn. Last winter, when I was last at home, I really look forward to Kaiserschmarrn. And also Germknödl with a little custard and a few poppy seeds. So much..."
And how much do you miss FC Bayern?
Schweinsteiger: "FC Bayern will always be in my heart. I watch most of the games on television. Fortunately, it's easy keeping up-to-date with what's happening in Munich. I'm still in contact with a couple of players including Thomas Müller and Manuel Neuer. But, of course, I don't get to hear about everything."
You're looking at FC Bayern from afar these days. Do you see the club in another light?
Schweinsteiger: "I'd prefer to say I've gained another perspective. Now I can see how big Bayern are more than ever. It's incredible how popular the club is here. We played in Vancouver recently. And lots of fans there wore Bayern shirts. After the games I always spend a bit of time with the fans. So that makes me feel like a bit of an ambassador."
Bayern played at Stuttgart on 7 December 2002...
Schweinsteiger: "...it was my first Bundesliga game. We won 3-0."
That's right. Can you remember who you came on for?
Schweinsteiger: "Of course. Niko Kovac."
What do you think about Niko Kovac being the Bayern coach?"
Schweinsteiger: "I think it's a good fit. Niko and his brother Robert have the Bayern DNA. They know the club and the management very well. Both are definitely very motivated. I'm happy to see them back in Munich."
What are your memories of Niko Kovac as a player?
Schweinsteiger: "Back then you could see he would be a coach someday. He played in holding midfield. He was very level-headed there in terms of tactics. Vision, organisation, discipline were all important to him. He was always very good at motivating himself and he always encouraged his team-mates too."
You made your professional debut on 13 November 2002 almost 16 years ago. What was that like do you?
Schweinsteiger: "I was very nervous. It was the first time I'd been in the dressing room at the Olympic Stadium. I can still remember my shirt hanging on the hook. It was two sizes too big. And my surname, which is relatively long, just fitted on the back. (He laughs). The letters were narrowed so it looked better."
Now you're coming to the Allianz Arena with Chicago Fire. How emotional will your return be?
Schweinsteiger: "It's hard to predict. In my farewell game with Germany I underestimated how emotionally I would react. There will certainly be a lot of memories. The beginnings, the wins, the experiences. It was a great time. I can hardly wait to get back on the pitch at the Allianz Arena and meet old friends and acquaintances. And, of course, the fans too. I haven't been back there since my last game. Back then I didn't have the chance to say farewell. That's why I’m very grateful FC Bayern have arranged this farewell game."
You played 500 games for Bayern. Which ones particularly standout?
Schweinsteiger: "To be honest, a defeat comes to mind first: the final in 2012. That was perhaps the most bitter night of my career. But I think that game had a lot of repercussions. I'm convinced it was the starting point for us winning the Champions League in 2013 and the World Cup in 2014."
How cathartic were the years 2013 and 2014 for you?
Schweinsteiger: "At some point, you do realise you might be a very good player. But you have to go that extra bit further for the last three or four per cent. It's a skill to coax out those little things. Jupp Heynckes could do it like no one else. We all upped our game after the defeat against Chelsea. It was great the way we stuck together. And it was the same for the national team. We were always close but never lifted the World Cup. When we won the Champions League and the World Cup it was like a weight was lifted after the final whistle. At last, I'd done it at last!"
You're 34 now. How long do you want to keep on playing?
Schweinsteiger: "I feel good physically. It's fun going to training every day. I've played in every game. If Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wants to make me an offer then I might consider it. (He laughs) I think I can play for another two or three years. But I'll take it season by season."
And what's after that?
Schweinsteiger: "I'll probably take a back seat for a while and spend time with my wife and my son. Of course, I'll keep in touch with football. But first of all I want to take a break."
Do you think you'll go back to Bavaria with your family?
Schweinsteiger: "I think we'll definitely return to Europe at some point."
The full interview with Bastian Schweinsteiger is available in the current edition of 51, the exclusive monthly magazine for all members of FC Bayern eV.