Schweinsteiger: "We unleashed an unprecedented power"
Illustration: Florian Bayer
Thursday, 19 May 2022 marks 10 years since the Finale dahoam. In an interview with members' magazine '51', Bastian Schweinsteiger recalls the Champions League final against Chelsea at the Allianz Arena – his toughest defeat, but also the beginning of a success story that had its first major highlight one year later with the triumph at Wembley.
Interview with Bastian SchweinsteigerBastian, what do you think now about the final?
Schweinsteiger: "Don't ask me how we lost that game. It's still a mystery to me."
"I went out into town early in the morning and got myself some orange juice and a pretzel. Then I want for a walk to the Isar, which I often liked to do. But that morning I was almost alone. There was silence in the city. I sat down on a stone at the Reichenbackbrücke and put my feet in the water. My legs hurt because I took a knock in the game. It was good to cool them. The loss was tough to take. It really hurt. I thought about how it could've happened. To this day there's only one reason I can think of, and that's that Chelsea had lost the Champions League final on penalties four years earlier, so maybe the football gods wanted luck to be on their side this time."You once said that you were very touched by the reactions of the fans after the final. What did you experience?
"I had contact with the people because I lived in the centre of the city. We talked about the final. I saw how disappointed the whole city was, but also how enthusiastic they were about our game. Even the vendors at the Viktualienmarkt tried to cheer me up in the days after. 'You played so well, you'll win it next year,' they said."Was there also a little bit of relief that nobody blamed you personally after you hit the post in the shootout?
"There were no recriminations, not even among us in the team. I blamed myself the most. But I don't think my penalty was bad. Petr Cech just reacted really well in goal and tipped the ball onto the inside of the post with his fingertips. I have to accept that, however hard it is. Doing it in such a big final, in your own stadium, in front of the south stand... I can still see the faces of the fans today."
"Home advantage really was a boost for us. You could see that in the game. It was tough work for Chelsea. Years later, I spoke to Frank Lampard and Juan Mata about the game. They told me that they didn't understand at the time why the trophy was at their hotel. For me and most of my teammates, it was the biggest defeat of our careers. We felt like we had one hand on the trophy, maybe more, but then it slipped from our grasp at the last moment."Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said at the meal afterwards that the loss was worse than Barcelona in 1999. How long did it take to come to terms with it?
"On holiday after the Euros, I could hardly wait for it to start again. I wanted to win everything with this team, which had been strengthened as well. You could feel an incredible motivation in every single one of us. We trained at the highest level and unleashed an unprecedented power. I remember talking to Franck [Ribery] and Arjen [Robben] before beating Barcelona 4-0 in the semi-finals, and we pushed each other again. We were a band of brothers."Jupp Heynckes said that you had many conversations. How important was he for you at that time?
"Very important, but I wasn't the only one. He'd already achieved a lot as a player and a coach – you listen to someone like that in particular. But what fascinated me was how he developed as a coach after 2012. He got all the players, including those on the bench, the team behind the team, and the fans behind him. You could feel he was really enjoying it. He also told me once that it was the best time of his career. He loved working with us. And it was the same for us, just the other way round. He was like a father figure to us."
"We were in a league of our own. We were simply the best. And what I particularly like about it is that we did it with Bayern DNA, with a lot of players from our youth ranks. But I also count someone like Claudio Pizarro among them. He always lived Bayern."Would 2013 and the 2014 World Cup have been possible without 2012?
"That's hard to say. I personally believe that the foundation for 2013 and 2014 was the defeat in 2012. We had one or two per cent more after that, which we'd lacked against Chelsea. And the success of 2013 gave us a lot of strength for the 2014 World Cup. Nothing was ever given to me in my career. I always had to do something for it. Stephan Beckenbauer, my U17 coach at Bayern, once told me: 'Sure, it's easier to take the easy way, but sometimes it's better to pick the rocky path.' I always had that sentence in my head. I'm proud that I took the path with Bayern. We developed together until we could say before the season that our goal was to win the Champions League. We reached the final three times in four years. Something came about and I'm happy to have been a part of it."
The full interview is available in the latest edition of members' magazine '51'