On Thursday, Germany host Liechtenstein in World Cup qualifying (20:45 CET). Daniel Brändle will be in the squad for the visitors. The 29-year-old plays in the fifth division in Germany as an amateur for SV Pullach in Bavaria. This week he will be going up against the 2014 World Champions in Wolfsburg. In an interview with DFB.de, Brändle explains how he is dealing with this unusual situation.
DFB.de: Mr Brändle, how special is this game against Germany for you personally?
Daniel Brändle: Very, very special. It will be my first time playing against Germany as unfortunately I missed the home match. I’m looking forward to it even more now. That’s not just the case with me, however. It’s absolutely a highlight for every one of us. We have also played against Spain and Italy already, but Germany is of even greater significance for me.
DFB.de: Because you live in Germany and play football there?
Brändle: Of course. I’m playing in my fourth season with SV Pullach in the Bayernliga.
DFB.de: That’s the fifth highest division in Germany.
Brändle: It’s purely amateur football. During the season, we train three times a week in the evening and on Saturdays or Sundays we play our matches. With us, everyone works, studies or is still at school. For example, I work as a project manager at WWP, a sports marketing agency in Munich. For one of our clients, I sometimes have to work with FC Bayern and their players, but of course they wouldn’t know that I play international football for Liechtenstein. (laughs)
DFB.de: So is football purely a hobby for you then?
Brändle: Yes, you could say that. We have a few guys who came from academies like 1860 München, FC Bayern or Unterhaching. They might have a bit more ambition to make the step up to professional football. That’s not something I’m considering. I’ll be turning 30 in January.
DFB.de: Was that ever something you considered?
Brändle: Not really, to be honest. I once played a season in the top division in Malta. Everything was very professional there. I didn’t have enough to play at a higher level. The rest of my footballing career has been at amateur level. I never pinned all my hopes on professional football.
DFB.de: How are things going at the moment with SV Pullach?
Brändle: Not great, unfortunately. We’re near the bottom of the league. We need to get points on the board quickly to make sure we’re not in a relegation dogfight.
DFB.de: Is it well-known in the Bayernliga that you play for Liechtenstein?
Brändle: Opponents don’t know, but within our squad, everyone does. They like to give me a bit of stick when I, as an international player, make a mistake or get nutmegged in training. But of course the response is also positive a lot of the time. I remember, for example, that after drawing 1-1 in Greece a while ago, my phone didn’t stop ringing. Everyone was congratulating me.
DFB.de: If you think about it, you are one of the few players who is playing both amateur and professional football.
Brändle: That’s a good way of putting it. At club level I play amateur football but with the national team we work at a professional level – staying in hotels, advice on nutrition, super medical care and much more. That’s really cool.
DFB.de: How difficult is it to be a part of both worlds?
Brändle: The transition from one to the other can sometimes feel pretty stark. One day I’m playing in a village in the Bayernliga. We travel in our own cars and after a win we might have a couple of beers. A few days later the opponent is the German national team in Wolfsburg. We travel on a team bus, and suddenly we’re being watched by cameras and thousands of fans. Then it’s back to amateur football. It’s quite strange, but I’ve become used to it now. I’ve been doing it for a while.
DFB.de: You played your first international match in 2014. Was it a dream come true?
Brändle: Yes, of course. But you could've foreseen that I had a good chance of making it in. I had already played several games for the Lichtenstein youth teams. I knew that I was on the right path. I am proud to be able to run out there for my country. You can probably say the same about any international player – regardless of whether he comes from Germany or Liechtenstein.
DFB.de: As an amateur player, how do you approach an international match against Germany? And how about as a fan?
Brändle: Even in the build-up, it is really special. We only know the German players from the TV. But when the whistle goes, it's no different from any other match. Then it doesn't matter who is running at me. You have no time to think about it.
DFB.de: How is it after the game? Will you try and get one of their shirts?
Brändle: It can be good, but it comes down to how the match has gone. I basically always try to get a memento or two. For example, I have shirts from Juan Mata and Spain, Marco Verratti and Italy, Stephan Lichtsteiner and Switzerland, Martin Harnik and Austria as well as Seb Larsson and Sweden. I'm proud of my little collection. I still need to add a German shirt. (laughs)
DFB.de: What sort of result can you live with?
Brändle: I really don't want to commit myself to any one result. In the 2-0 defeat in the previous game, we put in a superb performance. We will be really, really pleased if we manage to put in a similar display. How things look at the end isn't the most important thing for me personally. For me, it is more important to put in a good performance and for us to be able to enjoy this special day.
DFB.de: Where do Liechtenstein stack up on the international stage right now?
Brändle: We hadn't had any good results of late, but we are in better shape now. The most recent results give reason for hope. We lost 2-0 to Germany and Romania and we even picked up a 1-1 draw with Armenia. These are results that we can build upon. We find ourselves in a transitional period and we are incorporating several young players into the side. That takes a little time but things are looking positive in the long-term. But you can't forget that our squad for the Germany game contains more amateurs than professionals.