Marcel Sabitzer: I had posters of Zé Roberto and Giovane Élber
Even as a child in Graz, Marcel Sabitzer was running around in an FCB jersey. Back then, he painted on the names and shirt numbers himself with a marker. Now he’s wearing the official Munich shirt – and it suits him well as an adult too. Our club magazine ‘51’ sat down with the 27-year-old.
Interview with Marcel Sabitzer
Marcel, your father Herfried made six appearances for Austria as a centre-forward in the 90s. What did you learn from him?
Sabitzer: “When I was a child I often went to training with him, in the dressing rooms. I found it all very intriguing back then, not many people get those kinds of insights at such a young age. Therefore, a career as a professional footballer was always very tangible for me. I was determined to make it. From U12 up my father was also my youth coach for many years. That wasn’t always easy for me but it certainly helped me in some ways. My father is still a youth coach in Austria and really has an eye for talent.”
Was he stricter with you than the other children?
“Definitely. He knew the deal and what was needed – and there were times when he made that very clear. It was a hard school, but looking back he did everything right. As a youngster, I was already very focussed on football. Plus I didn’t know any different – that’s how it is for a boy whose father was a pro himself. Obviously some people said I was only playing because my dad is the coach, and stuff like that. But eventually people saw that I wasn’t that bad. I was always able to deal with it well.”
Was now the ideal time to come to FCB – with Julian Nagelsmann coming too?
“I think so. At 27 I’m at the peak age for a footballer, and I always saw myself as being at the high point of my career then. The fact that my former coaches and Dayot Upamecano are also here is a nice bonus and just makes everything perfect for me.”
You were captain and a leading figure at Leipzig. What role do you see for yourself at FC Bayern?
“I don’t think I can expect to be captain here, I’m aware of that (laughs). But my mentality will never change. I always want to lead from the front on the pitch, give everything and push my team.”
Everyone talks about your versatility. What’s your preferred position?
“I’m strongest in the left attacking midfield role, but the system is of secondary importance. For now I want to find my place in the team and I’m going to work very hard to do that.”
You once said: “I don’t do half measures. I always want to go to the limit.” Ideal attributes for FC Bayern, right?
“Sometimes even after matches we’ve won, I sit at home unhappy and think: It could have been better. That’s the way I’ve always been and it’s not going to change here. I’m always looking to get better, to do even more – yes, that’s a good fit with FC Bayern.”
Like you, Julian Nagelsmann was a big Bayern fan as a child. He said the coaching job was very close to his lifelong dream. How does it feel for you?
“It’s a childhood dream come true, that’s for sure. Having always run around proudly in my Bayern kit as a young lad, it’s the ultimate feeling. I dreamed of FC Bayern and back then it was a very distant. Now I can’t stop grinning.”
Nagelsmann also said, “It will only be cosy and warm when I win titles. Only then have I really arrived.” Do you have a similar view?
“If you don’t win anything here, the storm clouds gather very quickly. Everyone wants to avoid that. I can sympathise very well with this mentality, though.”
How come you became a Bayern fan as a boy in Graz?
“It was a result of how often the matches were shown on TV. My father watched a lot of football and often it was FC Bayern matches, so one thing led the other.”
Which posters were on the wall in your bedroom?
“Zé Roberto and Giovane Élber, they were my two big heroes. Zé Roberto because he was such a machine in midfield, and Elber up front because of his star appeal. I often played in attack as a child, so it was natural. And then, of course, everything had to be there: the white boots, the carpet roll celebration and so on.”
Which shirt was the most valuable to you?
“Among them were the gold one and the dark red one with the dark grey sleeves. But because the shirts didn’t have the printing on them, I drew ‘Élber’ and the number 9 myself with a black marker pen. It looked great! (laughs)”
Photos: Dirk Bruniecki