In the second round of the DFB-Pokal, third division side MSV Duisburg taken on Bundesliga outfit TSG Hoffenheim on Tuesday (18:30 CET). For 34-year-old former Germany international Marvin Compper, who played 171 games for Hoffenheim and now plays for MSV Duisburg, it is a very important game. In an interview with DFB.de, Marvin Compper spoke with his colleague Peter Haidinger about the reunion.
DFB.de: How excited were you when Duisburg were paired with Hoffenheim, Marvin?
Marvin Compper: Honestly, I would rather have another second division club. If TSG Hoffenheim have a good day then it will be quite difficult for us. We have a young and able team, but we play in the 3rd division. TSG have a very strong squad for a Bundesliga club. But I was excited at the draw as I get to meet my former club. Being able to compete with one of the best teams in Germany is a highlight and a privilege.
DFB.de: Will the match against your former club Hoffenheim be a special match for you?
Compper: Of course! As a third division side who have just knocked out a second division side in SpVgg Greuther Fürth, we will now play a team who are competing in the top division potentially to qualify for the European Cup. For us it will be a huge challenge and many things will need to go right for us to potentially spring a surprise.
DFB.de: What are some memories you have of your time at your previous club?
Compper: : I was at Hoffenheim for five years and I witnessed some of the club’s most historic moments in that time. I transferred to Hoffenheim in the 2008 winter break, when they were seventh in the second division table. After an amazing second half to the season, we managed to achieve promotion. We took this momentum into the Bundesliga and even were top of the table at Christmas the year we were promoted, but then dropped to finish the season in seventh place. The club has changed enormously in the last decade.
DFB.de: You had to take a break due to an injury in your left calf. How confident are you that you will be fit in time?
Compper: : The healing process is going well so far. I have already completed some of team training and am taking it day by day. I will do everything it takes to make an appearance against my former club.
DFB.de: How do you prepare for such an important game?
Compper: : The balance between tension and excitement is very important. There has to be a positive pressure. We need to develop a “there’s nothing to lose” mentality that can help us cause a DFB-Pokal upset. We want to put our plans into practice, go at TSG Hoffenheim and make it as difficult as possible for the opponent.
DFB.de: Do you have special routines or rituals before a match?
Compper: : I don’t really cling to rituals because I think of them as more self-sabotage. If you don’t carry them out properly, you have this sense of not being ready, and I don’t think that’s useful.
DFB.de: You played in one international for Germany in your career. Why was it not more?
Compper: : At that time, I could not get my performances consistent enough. We had sunk into mediocrity with Hoffenheim and I couldn’t stand out. I played my only match against England at left-back, even though at Hoffenheim I played at centre-back. At that time the left-back slot was vacant, now there’s an overabundance of players who can play there. At the World Cup in Brazil Benedikt Höwedes played as a right-footed left-back. Also Philipp Lahm helped out on the left as a last resort. Finally the national team coach preferred other players ahead of me in the centre-back position.
DFB.de: You are playing at a very traditional club in MSV Duisburg. How important is this tradition for you?
Compper: : Celtic or Borussia Mönchengladbach were not always traditional clubs. Because of the achievements of past legends, they have become what they are today. Maybe in 50 years, I will be one of the Hoffenheim legends, who contributed to the rise of the club. At a traditional club, I feel responsible for continuing what has already been created. For clubs like TSG Hoffenheim or RB Leipzig the focus was creating this success first.
DFB.de: You have also played for Fiorentina and Celtic. What has your time abroad done for you as a player
Compper: : A lot. You leave your familiar surroundings and have to adapt. If you want to gain a foothold abroad you have to adapt to the customs and culture of other countries. Accordingly, you feel as if you develop as a person in a number of different ways. From the sporting point of view, I was able to learn and adapt to different tactics. In addition I was able to expand my English vocabulary and learn Italian. It is helpful in many facets of life to move abroad.
DFB.de: Back to the cup game against Hoffenheim: Is there a player still playing for them who you played with during your time there?
Compper: After Sebastian Rudy returns from Schalke 04, he will be the only current player I will have played with.
DFB.de: Now, the reunion. What is your estimate of the chances of progressing in this tie?
Compper: : On paper, it looks like our chances are slim. But in football anything can happen. If we start the game well, with every passing minute our belief and desire will grow. We need our best performance this season and for Hoffenheim to have a bad game. Hoffenheim is a team that are offensively very strong, but often concede a lot of chances.
DFB.de: What would you prefer, a cup run, or promotion with MSV Duisburg?
Compper: : Preferably both (laughs). If you have a choice between getting promoted or winning the cup, you always choose promotion. The hard work over the course of the season is reflected there.