Kellermann: “A great moment in my coaching career”
Ralf Kellermann could bearly hide his tears. He was too emotional. He won the award as 2014 FIFA-World Coach in Woman’s Football at the Ballon d’Or in Zurich on Monday evening. The tragic dead of Wolfburg midfielder Junior Malanda on Saturday still overshadowed the event.
In an interview with DFB.de the coach of the VfL Wolfsburg women’s team discussed these emotional days and the importance of his player Nadine Keßler having been named 2014 Women’s Player of the Year. He is also looking forward to the DFB-Indoor-Cup in Magdeburg on Saturday (kick-off at 10:00 CET, live on DFB-TV).
DFB.de: Mr. Kellermann, what does this award mean to you?
Ralf Kellermann: A lot of course. This is a great moment in my coaching career. I was already able to take part in this event last year and saw how festive and important it is. I’m proud to be World Coach in women’s football. Although this is a very personal award, I have accepted in the name of the entire coaching staff. We were only this successful together. You’re nothing by yourself.
DFB.de: Was the success a surprise or did you travel to Zurich in high hopes?
Kellermann: I was a cautious optimist beforehand. Because I had already been shortlisted last year, my name was a bit more well-known. However, it is incredible that I’ve really won. At first you can’t really grasp it. Maren Meinert would have been a just as deserving winner, I’m absolutely certain of that. I was just lucky this year. However, our joy is overshadowed the death of Junior Malanda of course. The VfL Wolfsburg is a big family. This has affected us a lot. It really puts things into context.
DFB.de: What was going through your head when your name was called?
Kellermann: I don’t even remember exactly. That was a moment filled with tremendous emotions, tension and excitement. I always find it so fascinating that the results are really kept secret beforehand. You can ask whoever you want, nothing leaks before the event. And that is why it is such a special moment. You have no idea what is happening. And then suddenly the excitement just pours out of you.
DFB.de: Nadine Keßler was named Women’s World Player moments after you received your award…
Kellermann: …and I was almost even happier about that. She absolutely deserved it. I think there is no doubt about that. It’s incredible how she is always working for the team and leads it on the pitch. The past few months haven’t been easy for Nadine. Her knee injury is troubling her. I hope that this award will give her a boost so that she will be back on the pitch with us soon. I really hope this for her and for us. Things are picking up pace quickly in the New Year. It would be great if she could be with us soon.
DFB.de: The next event is the DFB-Indoor-Cup in Magdeburg on Saturday. This is a title still missing from your vita. Is this the first sporting highlight of 2015?
Kellermann: Yes, of course. I hope we can close the gap this year. We are going to Magdeburg to win the DFB-Indoor-Cup. As current German Champions and Champions League Winners we have to set our standards this high. It’s not just me, who hasn’t won that title. The VfL Wolfsburg has never won either. However, we will not risk anything. We will only field players who aren’t at risk of injury. Everyone else will be rested.
DFB.de: How have you experienced the DFB-Indoor-Cup in previous years?
Kellermann: It’s a great event. We are looking forward to it, and not just in terms of the sport. The atmosphere is extraordinary, the arena is sold out. And it’s nice when you finally find time to have a chat with the other coaches. That rarely happens during the stressful routine of the league.
DFB.de: Are you preparing specifically for the tournament?
Kellermann: No, not exactly. We will hold one indoor session, but only with the players who will actually be in the tournament. Other than that the DFB-Indoor-Cup is just part of the normal preparation. Like I said, we’ve got intensive weeks and months ahead of us. We still have chances in all three competitions, the German Championship, the DFB-Cup and the Champions League. On top of that we’ve got the World Cup in Canada this summer. We have to focus on that. This doesn’t mean we’re just going to Magdeburg for fun though. We’re too ambitious to do that.