Mats Hummels - "The championship chreo was just awesome!"
In our first part of the schwatzgelb.de interview with defender Mats Hummels, the German champion spoke about his memories on the cup final 2008, his development and future and Borussia Dortmund in general. In the second part, Hummels tells us about how the team gains information about fan issues and his opinion on campaign like "Kein Zwanni". Furthermore, he says what pushes the team the most on the pitch.
schwatzgelb.de: Let's talk about the „football player 2.0". You are very active on facebook. For example, after the quarter final of the DFB cup between Berlin and Mönchengladbach, there were discussions about you complaining about Gladbach's de Camargo. Is that a problem for you anyway?
Hummels: Of course, I think about what I write online, but emotions are involved as well. In this situation, I was just extremely angry. That my opinion creates more interest than the one of others is just fine with me. I don't need to be loved by everyone in Germany and that's why I simply say what I think.
schwatzgelb.de: Does the club itself has problems with it? Normally, it seems that football players just use the same phrases and vocabulary in an interview, just in a different order.
Hummels: But that is not only because of the players. As a football player, you know that several people react negatively when you state a clear opinion. But it is just my opinion. And you need to point out that some questions are just stupid and that's why you just give a classical type of answer.
schwatzgelb.de: Let's come to the German national squad. Everyone expects you to be part of the European cup. How do you see your chances to be in the starting line-up?
Hummels: I do really think that my chances have improved over the last months. In 2011, I was number five of the players with the most minutes in the national squad, but I missed the feeling of playing when it was important. But my relationship to the German coach got better during the time I had at the German squad. However, the weeks in the training camp before the cup will decide.
schwatzgelb.de: Long, dangerous balls from the defense are one of your biggest qualities. Jogi Löw often claimed that he is no fan of these passes. How do you cope with that?
Hummels: It's kind of funny that I am asked about that very often (laughs). Against the Netherlands, I played such a ball in the 90th minute because I had no other options and it became a big topic afterwards. It is one strength that I can not play out as good in the German squad as in Dortmund. I hardly play those passes anymore. But one thing strikes me: When I – as a defender – play the ball back to the keeper who then plays a long ball, it is okay for everyone even though it worsens the situation. When I am ten meters away from the midfield line and I have the option, I rather play the ball myself. Even though I get critique for doing so afterwards.
schwatzgelb.de: You don't feel pressure because of that?
Hummels: In Dortmund, there are more players behind the last line. Even though all other national players are in the same situation, it is only a topic with me. For me, I don't really care.
schwatzgelb.de: How do you see the chances oft he German team at the European cup in summer?
Hummels: The chances are really good. We really improved ourselves – even after the world cup in 2010 – and the distance to Spain became shorter. But you saw in matches like the one against France that you always need a top performance. That's just like in Dortmund. When we play Bayern, Gladbach and Schalke, an average performance is not enough to win. In the national squad, it is Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark. The quality of the squad is so high that the goal of winning the cup is definitely not wrong.
schwatzgelb.de: You said that you read a lot on the internet and on the boards. How do you learn something about developments like "Kein Zwanni" or "Pyrotechnik legalisieren"? Is that something you talk about in the team or is it just Kevin who tells you about it?
Hummels: Of course, Kevin ist he one with the most knowledge about these things. But we all have an opinion about it for sure. "Kein Zwanni" for example is something honorable for me. But in my opinion it will – probably – be hard to keep it over years. Everything becomes more expensive, that is unfortunately true for football games as well, you need to know that as well as that there are several people who could not afford to go to the stadium every weekend. However, the campaign is a sign for the match itself being in the foreground. This should remain like this and not the fact that you have a nice arena for 100.000 events which leads to the tickets costing 22 Euros instead of 18.
schwatzgelb.de: It is especially about young supporters...
Hummels: For sure. I would not know how I had paid for it when I would have gone to every match in the twelth grade.
schwatzgelb.de: Mathias Abel of 1. FC Kaiserslautern spoke for a responsible use of pyro technique. And Kevin said as well that he could imagine that...
Hummels: Yeah, Kevin is a supporter!
schwatzgelb.de: Do you have an opinion about it?
Hummels: That is the same problem like for many other thinks. If you legalize it, there will be controversy about what exactly you legalize. Throwing firecrackers is just stupid. But when it is like in Freiburg (the last match of the first round, the editors), then it is awesome. But the question is in how far does it help the team? That is the main reason for going into the stadium. Pyros do not really help. That is why I am rather against it than for pyros without really being able to say something about it. I support the choreos before the matches, especially when I think about the skull choreo against Wolfsburg or the Championship choreo.
schwatzgelb.de: Speaking about choreos. Under supporters, there are always discussions about what pushes the team most. During the last twenty minutes against Stuttgart, the whole stadium was on its feet.
Hummels: That is the best for sure!
schwatzgelb.de: What about a concert of whistles, does that really create a uncertainty for the opponent or is a player too focused to hear it? What abount chants and waving flags?
Hummels: You do notice it. The best thing is when it happens in waves. Against Stuttgart, it was silent for a while after the 1:2 and the 2:3, but then the terraces exploded – and that was carried over to the team, you could see that! That is not that striking away. Away, it is often like singing one chant during the whole match which does not really push the team and does not comment on the match itself. What striked me is a match of the reserve a few weeks ago. There were 90 minutes of support against SC Wiedenbrück, but when BVB scored, it was silent (laughter). That was one of the weirdest things I have ever experienced. They sang the whole time, bounced and just exploded. But during the moment Borussia scored the 1-0, the whole block of supporters was quiet. Everyone except them was celebrating and when the match continued, the fan block exploded again and the rest of the stadium was silent. That stunned me a bit.
schwatzgelb.de: So you have no problems with more quiet parts on the stands when it is really loud during important parts?
Hummels: Sure, that's what supportive.
schwatzgelb.de: So you could waive about the monotonous sound during the match?
Hummels: Well, you don't really notice it because you are too focused on the match. But when there are phases in which it becomes louder and more apparent, it is supportive especially in home matches and is responsible for us to give some more per cent. Against Stuttgart, that would have brought us the victory if it was not for the 92th minute.
schwatzgelb.de: Is there a stadium in Germany in which you do not like to travel to because of the atmosphere?
Hummels: No. The match in Augsburg was awesome. It was the same in Mainz in the old stadium, there always was a great atmosphere. They supported their team – no matter the result. That's why the players always believed in themselves. We lost 0-1 at some day and therefore failed a bit to get the qualification for Champions League and one reason was definitely the atmosphere. You had carnival all over there. The biggest inferno I've ever been to, however, was Karpaty Lviv. I don't think you could feel that from the outside. But when you said something, you could not hear it on your own. It was an inferno from the very moment on when they scored the 1-2 – until we scored the 4-3. I did not hardly experience something like that.
schwatzgelb.de: How often is a stadium so loud that you have problems to communicate with each other or to hear what the coach is screaming at the side?
Hummels: Since we are in the lead more often at away games, it is not that often away. But at home, it definitely is like this. It is not easy to reach someone when he is twenty meters away from you.
schwatzgelb.de: Are you team members aware of what is happening around those games and do you talk about it? Against Karpaty, some of our supporters had problems while being in the city and in Sevilla, there were massive problems, too.
Hummels: Some were even arrested.
schwatzgelb.de: There are all these stories that happen not according to EU-laws. Does the team notice these and do you talk about these things afterwards?
Hummels: Well, we get a lot through Kevin because he has the closest contacts and usually receives an SMS by supporters after games like these. I read a lot in forums online and through that also notice a lot afterwards. And often I ask myself how this accords with one or the other law that should maybe exist.
schwatzgelb.de: How can we imagine that?
Hummels: Kevin shows you these SMS and tells the team about it – the classical way in that such news are usually spread. And of course, then it is something we talk about. Often, we only know of rumors, but sometimes happenings are proven and you have to say: “Gross, three people that I know were arrested by the police without even having done something.” In those moments, I don’t know if they really haven’t done anything, but of course this is something that we do care about and we absolutely do not like. But personally you can’t do much against it.
schwatzgelb.de: You’ve already mentioned the choreographies that you enjoy seeing in Dortmund. Is that something that pushes you even more when you enter the stadium?
Hummels: The choreography for the championship’s game against Frankfurt was simply amazing because the mood was good anyways. It is a matter of fact that you enter the pitch, you have a look at the left and it gives you goosebumps. That’s inescapable. But the choreographies before the game and this unplanned, roaring, emotional chanting and supporting that comes without giving much thought to it, are definitely the things that push me forward the most.
schwatzgelb.de: One has the impression in general that the relation between team and supporters in Dortmund is the best in ages. For example during the match against Stuttgart, when after the 2:3 the whole stadium stood up to spur you on. Do you have an explanation for this good relation?
Hummels: I don’t know, this relation unfolded without any special reason or occasion. Of course this also stems from the fact that we know some of the people that are on the Südtribüne each game. Even I know some of them, Mario knows some of them, Schmelle knows some of them, and Kevin anyways. I guess Kevin knows all of them. Under this condition, the relation is stronger on both sides. The supporters want to see us fight at all costs. And in my opinion this is the least you can ask from very well-paid football players. Even if not everything works out perfectly, one expects at least that the players do everything to try to win the game. I believe that this is what our supporters see and that is why we’re supported unconditionally. Because they know exactly: We’re not giving up. As a football supporter, I would have wanted to see exactly this kind of attitude.
schwatzgelb.de: How big do you think is your popularity with the supporters? Also because in some online supporter forums, it is often said…
Hummels: I’ve read a lot, also that supporters told each other it has become too quiet, and that they have to put more energy into the support in the stadium again. These things are said on your page, too.
schwatzgelb.de: Reading some statements however, you think: “Dear lord, if one of the players reads this, he’ll just shake his head.” One or the other thinks just because he is protected by the internet’s anonymity, he can publish all of his thoughts which in the end sound as if we had lost five games in a row...
Hummels: Given the fact that everything’s going good since a long time now, that would provoke the supporters‘ bad mood, of course. And within the team as well. But I don’t think it would change a lot concerning the relation. If we’d play this good only for a few months and then had a bad phase again, maybe the relation would overturn swiftly. But we’re good for three or four years now, and this is why I am of the opinion that we have a lot of backing. A lot of people do write bullshit in the forums, but one can put this into the right context because most of the people are still able to be rational in their comments.
schwatzgelb.de: How did you react to different parties calling for a better support in the stadium?
Hummels: I think that there are reasons for these calls. Also because a lot of games in the Westfalenstadion were dominated by us. The atmosphere in the stadium is not planned, but comes with emotions evoked by the game. If you watch a game where your team is absolutely the better one for the first 20 minutes, leads 2:0 and then scores the 3:0 in minute 40 – of course you’re a bit more silent then. I think that’s just natural. And that’s why the discussion about the atmosphere is a way of calling back into memory that it won’t be that way forever. I don’t think this was really a critique concerning the last games, but more or less to recall: When the time comes when games are not won that easily anymore, they’ll need our support in a different, a louder form. So that when the next game is a hard and a close one you’re not disappointed if you don’t win 4:0 but you know: “This is important, we have to stand behind the team 100 percent now.” This is the way I have interpreted the whole discussion.
schwatzgelb.de: Imagine Mats, 60 years old – or, let’s say 70 years old and with his grandchildren. What do you wish to be able to tell them what you’ve experienced and what you’ve achieved in football? What are your highest goals? What do you dream of having achieved until then?
Hummels: Of course it would be nice to have a few additional titles. But let’s put it this way: Even if I already had grandchildren, I’d have stories to tell them. Thank God I’m not that old already, but I think I’d tell them about those exciting games – and not about the titles in the first place. Often, the games that didn’t even have a happy ending, like the one against Stuttgart, fascinate me. Or the one last year against Sevilla. That was one of the most formative games for me, anyways: You‘re playing against a very good team, you’re playing very well but you don’t score. Then the referee shows you the yellow-red card for whatever reason and all of a sudden the other team leads 0:1. And still, it wasn’t ten players against eleven, but 80.000 plus ten against eleven. This feeling I will memorize forever. Of course, victories are also nice. But these games with their most intensive moments – these are the ones I want to experience more of. Like when we equalized the score against Hoffenheim last season or exactly the game against Stuttgart this season. For me, these moments are more precious than titles, even though in the end I also don’t want to be without the last title as German champion.
schwatzgelb.de: Can you name any highlights?
Hummels: There are actually three: When we equalized the score against Hoffenheim, I guess after that jubilance every supporter found himself ten rows away from his original place. Then, in the game against Nuremberg, when Nobby announced the 2:0 lead of Cologne against Leverkusen in the stadium. Simply because – it’s giving me goosebumps again, unbelievable – the reaction of the team. We completely lost our minds. We were on the pitch, just grinning at each other. It is the 80th minute, it is 2:0 against Nuremberg, and the game is not over at all. Nobby loses his mind. Somehow, a long pass reaches you, you look to the left, and the person that has played it is just grinning at you. You have a look in front of you, that person looks back at you, and everyone just freaked out. The third moment was indeed those ten minutes against Stuttgart. And then there were a lot of short moments. "Deutscher Meister steh' auf" against Nuremberg wasn’t bad either, but the three that I’ve named first were the most intensive ones so far.
schwatzgelb.de gives sincere thanks to Mats for his interest and the detailed interview and here again compliments him on the win of the second German championship!