The strategist in the foal’s midfield is looking forward to the Champions League match against Real Madrid. But there is one thing he will miss on this special night, he explains in a Chillreport interview.
Florian Neuhaus has been through eventful weeks: first Gladbach’s midfield director celebrated his debut in the DFB jersey in the 3: 3 against Turkey – and he also scored his first international goal -, then he ran in the 2: 2 against Inter Milan for the first time in the Champions League.
In an interview with Chillreport, Neuhaus tells about childhood dreams that have come true, the lack of fans in the stadiums and what experiences he had at the DFB.
Chillreport: Mr. Neuhaus, Gladbach is back in the premier class. How does it feel to be for your first Champions League match?
Florian Neuhaus (23): It will be something very special. But we worked hard for that last season. I am looking forward to the games in this great group.
You said you saw every game in the previous Champions League season. Was that already the case in your childhood?
The Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday was a must. I was looking forward to the early morning evening games at school. I always had to negotiate a bit with my parents so that I could stay up late, but luckily they almost always made an exception for the Champions League. As a child it was very special for me to watch games in front of the television with my parents in the evening. A big dream comes true that I can now be on the field in this match.
What Champions League experience on the couch at home do you remember particularly well?
The 2005 Champions League final between AC Milan and Liverpool FC. I was eight years old at the time. Milan went into half-time with a 3-0 lead, I thought the game was over and then Liverpool came back in the second half and even won the game. A special memory is also FC Bayern against Real Madrid in the eighth finals of 2007, when Roy Makaay took over the lead from Munich after just ten seconds.
The only 25-year-old Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard lifts the handle jar into the night sky of Istanbul. The final against AC Milan is considered one of the best in the history of the European Cup. (Source: Aflosport / image images)
Last Wednesday it was in San Siro against Inter Milan, next Tuesday Real Madrid will visit Borussia-Park – two of the largest football clubs in the world. Two clubs you dreamed of as a child, maybe even had sweaters?
While on vacation I bought one of these imitation shirts for 10, 15 euros in the market. These are simply two of the absolute top teams, the opponents you dreamed of as a child and with whom I now want to compete as a professional.
Then there are Shakhtar Donetsk’s obnoxious Ukrainians. How do you and Gladbach want to survive in this “death group”?
The fact that we can’t go into the games as favorites and surprise is a role that suits us. You saw that in the last first half of the season against FC Bayern when we won 2-1.
The Champions League matches are also played in front of almost empty stands. To what extent is the proximity of the fans suffering from the corona pandemic?
I miss the fans. It is your emotions that make football what it is. However, we cannot change the current situation, we can only take care of our health.
How does Gladbach, but also, for example, the DFB counteract this development?
We players, coaches and supervisors undergo regular corona tests to keep the game going. Personal contact with the fans is therefore unfortunately not possible and would also be irresponsible. But nowadays social media offers us great opportunities to connect with fans. This is also important for Borussia because the club sees itself as a fan-like club.
Her next childhood wish came true with her Champions League debut. Before that, you reached an important milestone in your first international match against Turkey at the beginning of October – and you immediately scored a goal. How do you remember that night?
To be able to play for the national team at all and then score a goal in the first match, that is something very special. I will remember that night with great joy all my life.
Florian Neuhaus celebrates his goal for the 2-1 win against Turkey. (Source: Uwe Kraft / Image Images)
You were not used to the subsequent Nations League matches against Ukraine and Switzerland. How much did it bother you that you weren’t rewarded for your good performance against Turkey?
That was not a big problem for me. Of course I would have liked to play in those matches, but I know about the competition in my position. I absolutely understand that the national coach did not want to change his axis for the Nations League matches and relied on it again after the Turkey match.
Did national coach Joachim Löw explain to you that you were not taken into account?
He didn’t say that right now. But I have regular contact with the national coach and can therefore understand his decisions well. Overall, he is a very communicative trainer where the players always know where they stand. Nevertheless, I think that through my commitment and my goal against Turkey I have taken the first big step in the national team. Now it’s about recommending me for further nominations and submitting myself for the future.
The EM is coming in the near future. Do you already dare to play a leading role in the team or are you already satisfied with a managerial position?
The nomination for the tournament would be a big deal for me. After all, that would mean that I would be one of the 23 best footballers in the country.
With the departure of Hummels, Müller and Boateng, the break was announced at the DFB. How do you rate the current age structure of the national team?
I can only judge what I went through with the national team. And that was that the atmosphere was very good. The team I met has tremendous potential – not just football, but also human. Nobody needs to worry about the quality of leadership in the DFB-Elf.
Despite your professional status, have you ever attended an amateur game, for example in your hometown Kaufering?
It is an absolute must when I am at home. My best friend plays for VfL Kaufering, my big brother plays for FC Penzing, my little brother in the Kauferinger B-Jugend – there is always a match in the neighborhood that I watch. This is also important to me. I have a close relationship with my home country and that includes local sports.
Are there things professional football should learn from the ground up?
I find it quite remarkable that – whatever level you play – each of us loves football. That you can be as enthusiastic about the district competition as you are about the Bundesliga. When my brothers and my best friend talk about their games over the weekend, they don’t care if I play in the Bundesliga – the most important thing for them is their own experience on the field.