Jena's Klingbeil: "Run until we fall down"
Big stages for small clubs. The DFB Cup throws Germany’s amateur clubs into the spotlight. Village teams can face German champions; ambitious Regionalliga sides can go head-to-head with Champions League participants. There have been plenty of cup upsets and shocks in the over 70-year history of the competitions. The cup has its own rules and its own history. Over the next two weeks, DFB.de will preview all 18 amateur clubs who are featuring in the first round of the 73rd DFB Cup. Today it’s FC Carl Zeiss Jena from the Regionalliga Nordost.
For the team from the Regionalliga Nordost, Sunday 9th August is already the high point of the new season. The team from Jena, Thuringia, will face Bundesliga side Hamburger SV in the first round of the DFB Cup. Jena have already shown that they are good for surprises in the Cup as late as the 2007/08 season. At the time in the 2. Bundesliga, the four-time East German Cup winners reached the semi-finals and only lost to Borussia Dortmund 3-0 in the highest attended Cup match of all time in front of a crowd of 80,708. FCC had previously knocked out defending champions 1. FC Nürnberg (7-6 on penalties), Arminia Bielefeld (2-1 a.e.t) and league champions VfB Stuttgart (7-6 on penalties).
For René Klingbeil, a 34-year-old with experience and a recent arrival in Jena, the encounter with Hamburg is a special game. The defender used to play for them between 2003 and 2007 and made his professional debut there against Borussia Dortmund. Born in Berlin, he has spent the last seven years playing for FC Erzgebirge Aue before signing a one year contract with Jena. In an interview with DFB.de, René Klingbeil speaks about the game against his former club, his time in Hamburg, an entertaining year in Norway and targets with FC Carl Zeiss Jena.
DFB.de: In the first round of the DFB Cup you face your former team Hamburg of all teams. A special game for you Mr Klingbeil?
René Klingbeil: Definitely. I made my first steps in professional football in Hamburg. Under Thomas Doll I first played for Hamburg’s reserves. When Klaus Toppmüller was dismissed as first team manager and Doll took over the position, he took me with. I will never forget my first Bundesliga game. We were bottom of the table but won 2-0 in front of 80,000 at Borussia Dortmund – it was indescribable.
DFB.de: You played around 50 Bundesliga matches for Hamburg. Was it the most successful time of your career?
Klingbeil: It was a very successful time. We later played abroad too. But I also had wonderful experiences with other clubs. Promotion to the 2. Bundesliga with Aue in 2010 was sensational with our meagre possibilities.
DFB.de: Are you still in contact with former teammates at Hamburg?
Klingbeil: No, unfortunately not. I only had occasional contact with David Jarolim and Sergej Barbarez who have now both finished their careers. But as so often happens in football, you just fall out of contact. What’s the expression? Out of sight out of mind. Unfortunately that is all too often true. From the current squad I only got to meet Ivica Olic. The current director Dietmar Beiersdorfer was already involved in the club during my time at Hamburg.
DFB.de: In 2007 you moved to Norwegian side Viking Stavanger. How did that come about?
Klingbeil: It was anything but planned. Originally I was meant to go to Kaiserslautern and I had a concrete offer on the table. But then the manager Wolfgang Wolf was sacked, the transfer fell through and then I had no new club. Then the inquiry came from Norway and I said yes almost right away. It isn’t everyday that you don’t get the chance to play football abroad.
DFB.de: What are the big differences between German and Norwegian football?
Klingbeil: In Norway you go forward quickly with a lot of long balls. I was basically told that it is a typical kick and rush. But the players in Scandinavia are also well trained and posses enough quality to be competitive internationally. That year abroad was definitely something special, and something I would not want to miss.
DFB.de: After only a year you moved again to FC Erzgebirge Aue, where you stayed for seven years. You come from East Germany, were born in Berlin, so was that a reason for playing seven years in Aue?
Klingbeil: No, not necessarily. It wasn’t my initial desire to move to the third division. When you play in Norway for a year you are automatically off the radar of German clubs. But those seven years in Aue were a brilliant period with unforgettable experiences and events.
DFB.de: You recently said goodbye to Aue in Jena’s friendly defeat there. You spoke about a “goose bumps moment”. How was that for you?
Klingbeil: It was quite strange. I played against a team that I’d played for for several years. But the fact that I was honoured for my performances at Aue makes me very proud.
DFB.de: You have signed a contract at Jena until June 2016. Are you going to close out your career with that or follow it with another year?
Klingbeil: I’m concentrating fully on this season. Whatever happens after that is still to be decided. I can’t guess how long I’ll remain active in football – and I wouldn’t like to do that. For now I’m just looking forward to the season with my talented team at a traditional club. The character of our team is amazing, and the training conditions couldn’t be better.
DFB.de: What are your objectives with Carl Zeiss?
Klingbeil: To have a good start to the season and lead a very young team with my experience. Where we end up in the table, we’ll have to see.
DFB.de: Last season the team finished fourth. In the medium term the club is striving to reach the third division. Is reaching professional football possible in the short term?
Klingbeil: That’s difficult to say. We have a young, inexperienced team, but they have a lot of quality. I don’t want to give a prediction. But what is clear is that making it to the third division is a difficult undertaking. Because of the promotion playoffs, you can win the league easily but still miss out on promotion to the third division. A recent example of that is Kickers Offenbach won the Regionalliga Südwest by ten points but then lost to 1. FC Magdeburg.
DFB.de: Which teams in the Regionalliga are amongst the favourites for the title?
Klingbeil: I think that BFC Dynamo are very strong, and that FSV Zwickau will also be up there fighting. FSV Wacker Nordhausen and promoted side RB Leipzig II could also play a role.
DFB.de: FC Carl Zeiss are definite outsiders in the DFB Cup game against Hamburg. What chances do you have?
Klingbeil: We have no chance. But we have to use it (laughs). Cup games always have a special character. We all have to run until we fall down and go to the absolute limit. In front of a sold-out home crowd, we can then give ourselves hope of reaching the next round. The euphoria in Jena is huge. There will even be additional seating because rush for tickets was so great.
DFB.de: What does beating a Bundesliga club as a lower-league club depend on?
Klingbeil: We have to have the perfect day where everything works. It’s important that we keep the game open for as long as possible. The longer it remains 0-0, then the greater our chance is to cause an upset.
DFB.de: What happens if you score the winning goal against Hamburg…?
Klingbeil: … then I’d do something crazy (laughs). That would be madness. I don’t know exactly what I’d do. I still haven’t thought about that.