Barely an arm’s length away, the Champions League trophy glittered in its case. In the background, the video screen showed Oliver Kahn saving the decisive penalty in 2001. The next scene had Stefan Effenberg hoisting the cup into the Milan skies. There could be no better spot in the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt for an interview with Bixente Lizarazu.
Back in 2001, the former left-back won Europe's biggest prize with Bayern. Lizarazu spent a total of eight and a half seasons with FCB from 1997 to 2004 and January 2005 to 2006. “It was the best time of my career," the 42-year-old he told fcbayern.de.
Liza, who won practically everything there is to win as a player, spends his time nowadays as a respected expert and presenter in the French media. Naturally, he features in the Erlebniswelt Hall of Fame. The FCB icon spoke to fcbayern.de about his time in Munich, the current team, and the upcoming season.
Interview: Bixente Lizarazu
fcbayern.de: Bixente, here we are in the FC Bayern Erlebniswelt. What's going through your head right now?
Bixente Lizarazu: I think the Erlebniswelt is wonderful, very modern and very emotional. Bayern is a fantastic, great club. A great club has to be thinking about the present and the future, but must also never forget the past. All the different generations of players and all the trophies are gathered here in the Erlebniswelt. You're looking at the history of the club – and I'm a part of it, which is a great honour. I'll always think of myself as a Bayern player.
Thinking back to your first day at Bayern, what did you know about the club in advance?
On my first day? It was all completely new. Obviously I knew the name, but I had no idea what the club was really like. At a club like Bayern, you only play to win. That's the mentality, and that has to be your only focus. That's what I learnt here.
What do you now think about Bayern? What are the hallmarks of this club?
Bayern is a mixture of modernity, tradition, family, professionalism, and a culture of winning. Bayern win trophies and earn money with it, completely normal in today's football. Bayern doesn't forget its players and its history. I'm delighted I decided to accept the offer from Bayern back then. It was the best decision of my life as a footballer. It feels good to be part of this club. The eight and a half years with Bayern were the best time of my club career.
You’re a member of the Hall of Fame. Have you taken a look at yourself there?
I'm very proud when I see my shirt in the Hall of Fame. I have to thank the club. And the video with Oliver Kahn is hilarious. There I am, the man Oliver Kahn called ‘the little French guy’.
Do you have much contact to the club nowadays?
I’m regularly in Munich, most recently for the Champions League semi-final and final. In January I was here for Uli Hoeneß’s birthday. I work in the media, so I'm always there for the big matches – and Bayern play plenty of big matches. I’m always happy to drop in and see Uli Hoeneß and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. I always look forward to visiting Munich.
What you think of the current Bayern team?
It's a very good team. They were unlucky in the Champions League final, perhaps they just lacked the killer instinct you need in that kind of match. And Drogba had a good day. We were beaten finalists back in 1999, but we won the trophy two years later. Today's team has the quality to make the final again, and they just have to win it.
How difficult was it to pick yourselves up after the defeat in 1999?
Once you're in a final with the chance of winning the most significant trophy there is, but you actually lose, it's hard to pick yourself up. On the other hand, I'm absolutely certain the defeat in 1999 gave us the power to win the trophy in 2001.
What are you expecting in the new season?
The number one priority must be the Bundesliga title. Dortmund have been champions twice… stop, let's stop right there! Bayern must beat Dortmund at last, and then they can think about Europe.