Manuel Neuer is the Bayern and Germany goalkeeper, and was named the second-best keeper in the world last week. He is some player, and a big personality too, which goes a long way towards explaining his success since arriving in Munich last summer. In part two of our exclusive interview, we asked Manuel to discuss his personal development, and how he copes with fame.
Interview with Manuel Neuer, part two:
fcbayern.de: Manuel, are you as keen on the PlayStation as some of your games-mad team mates?
Manuel Neuer: No, not at all. I was given one as a present, but I practically never use it. If we do have a day off, I prefer to watch a good film. I'm not the guy for console games.
How hard was it to leave your home in Gelsenkirchen last summer?
I lived there for 25 years, so all I knew was Schalke and the national team. Moving to Munich put me in a totally different environment. My family was suddenly a long way away, and I pulled on a different jersey. It was a massive change, but I absolutely don't regret it at all.
Have you grown as a person?
Of course, you automatically keep on developing. Suddenly, I was completely on my own, standing on my own two feet. The routines I knew for 25 years were gone. I had to fit in and organise everything myself. To start with, I was an outsider in a new environment.
Do you sense more pressure on yourself due to joining Munich?
I'd already taken on a lot of responsibility at Schalke, and I was involved in plenty of important talks when I was there. Obviously, Bayern is an even bigger club, but I'm not feeling any additional pressure.
After a match, what upsets you the most, and how do you deal with frustration?
Obviously, you're angry about errors in the match, and about goals which weren't even your fault, although I have no problem with that while the match is in progress. What I learned under [former Schalke youth coordinator] Helmut Schulte is that the goalkeeper always starts again at nil, even when you're 2–0 behind. It always starts again from scratch. It's a completely mental thing, and I keep reminding myself of that during matches. For me, losing is the worst thing of all.
Do you review your errors at a later date?
Not immediately after a match, but naturally, [FCB goalkeeping coach] Toni Tapalovic and I analyse my performance later on.
How do you get on with coach Tapalovic?
I already knew him of course. It's going brilliantly. He knows exactly what makes me tick and what I need. He knows how much to fire me up before matches, and I can speak openly with him about how I feel. I can rely on him 100 percent. If I was to get up at three in the morning wanting to practice crosses, he'd be there for me. On the other hand, if I'm knackered and can't go on, he makes me continue to the end if he thinks it's important for me.
The goalkeeper's hands are his most important weapon. Do you care for your hands in any particular special way?
Not really. I use a totally normal body lotion after showering. I don't experiment. One important thing is to make sure my fingernails aren't too long.
How do you cope with the demands of being a top professional footballer? Do you occasionally get fed up with interviews, autograph signing, photos and so on?
It's occasionally demanding, but it's part of being a pro. We're often in the spotlight, and we're role models for a lot of kids. We used to have our own role models, and that's why we try and fulfil as many wishes as possible. It's not a burden, it’s a confirmation of your status, when so many people and especially kids want something from you and are happy.
Do even more people know who you are because you joined FCB?
Yes, that is the case.
What happens when you're out and about in Munich?
It's not a problem. The people on the streets just say ‘hi’ and let me walk on. They take relatively few photos, and those that do are tourists. Munich natives are relatively relaxed. They pretty much leave me in peace and I think that's very good. The Bavarian mentality fits very well to me.
Finally, who do you regard as the best German goalkeeper of all time?
Given my background with Schalke, Jens Lehmann was my idol. He had the most modern goalkeeping style in Germany. From an international perspective, my role model was Edwin van der Sar. But I was always impressed by Oliver Kahn, because he was very ambitious and always hungry for success.