Omar Richards: I'm now a Munich resident
Walking around Marienplatz, bowling with Phonzy Davies, tips from Joshua Kimmich: Omar Richards has learned to love Munich in the first nine months following his transfer from Reading. In the club magazine "51", the Briton talks about how he’s come to feel at home here.
Omar Richards - The interview
Omar, when you came to Munich, you really wanted to see the mountains. Have you managed to do it?
Richards: “Oh yes! I went to Garmisch. The scenery there is so beautiful, so different to South London where I grew up. It seems almost surreal to me. I never thought I would enjoy being out in the countryside so much. It's something new I've discovered about myself here. I also like Marienplatz a lot and find the people in Munich very warm and welcoming. Everyone is helpful. The city is so different to London. Everything is clean here; life is less stressful.”
It was important for you to learn German quickly. Why?
"I’m now a Munich resident, I want to integrate as well as possible. To do that, I have to learn German. For me, it's also a question of respect for the country and the people here. It's not enough for me to just understand the coach and the team. I also want to be able to cope when I'm out and about in the city on my own.”
You want to learn not only the language, but also about German culture and history. You recently visited the concentration camp in Dachau.
“I just want to know where I live, what I’m now a part of. Munich is full of history, and Dachau is a part of that. We talked about it in German class. When I heard you could visit the concentration camp, I really wanted to do that. To find out what happened there. To see it for myself and get a sense of it. Afterwards I had very mixed feelings, I thought about it a lot. I also asked myself: How can I feel so comfortable in a country where this happened? I had to think about that. What I like is how Germany deals with its own history. That it’s talked about, that you can visit such places and that you are aware of your own responsibility.”
You're a thoughtful guy. Julian Nagelsmann also appreciates your work ethic, your diligence. Where does your attitude come from?
"In my life, nothing was handed to me on a plate, I worked for everything. On the pitch, I used to be almost embarrassed when I lost the ball. I always wanted to win it back as quickly as possible. I also always want to win. I'll do anything for that."
And what do you do to relax?
"In my private life, I’m very different to how I am on the pitch - relaxed and relatively uncomplicated, I’d say. I like to spend time with my family and friends, watch films or play on the console. What I also like to do is go bowling. I found a good bowling alley just around the corner from my place. Sometimes I go there with a couple of guys from the team, Alphonso, or Jamal for example."
Which of you is Bayern's bowling champion?
"Phonzy has a strong arm, but the accuracy... (grins). I'm a pretty decent bowler myself, I think."
How did you grow up?
"My big brother is 11 years older than me, so I grew up mainly with my younger brother. We were always at the recreation pitch, like all the kids in the area. That's where I learned something important: how to keep the ball close to your foot. Because when you had the ball, everyone chased you. And if they caught you, you were ruthlessly taken off the ball. That could hurt quite a lot."
What was it like when you went into in the dressing room at Säbener Straße for the first time?
"I discovered my name on the locker between Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sané. That was incredible. It took me a while to realise that they’re all just normal people, no matter what they can do on the pitch. Everyone gave me a warm welcome. At the beginning, a few players were still on holiday, but at some point, the team was complete for the first time. One superstar walked in after another - that's when I finally realised: Wow, I'm really at Bayern Munich!"
Is there anyone in the team who has taken special care of you?
"Joshua Kimmich. From day one until today. He asks how I'm doing, gives me tips on what I can do to improve. I appreciate that very much. Joshua is like a big brother to me. He understands that it's not so easy to move to a foreign country, to go from a small team to one of the best clubs in Europe."
Can you describe how you experience the difference between the English Championship and FC Bayern on the pitch?
"The pace of the game is very different. Everything happens at the same time, if you blink once, you've missed something. At Bayern, everyone has to ride the same wave, the players work extremely well together as a team. And of course the quality of the individual players is exceptional. In training or during a game, there are always moments when I think: Brilliant, that's magic! Then I almost scream because I can hardly believe what my teammate has just done. I desperately want to reach that level too. And to do that, I'm in exactly the right place. I feel like I'm learning every day, that I'm constantly adding new elements to my game, just because I’m surrounded by this quality. I think I'm already a better player than I was last summer."
You can read the complete interview (in German) in the April issue of the FC Bayern club magazin "51“.
Watch Omar Richards' first interview in German in our video: