World Champions and now what? Hansi Flick can answer that question without any problems. After Rio de Janeiro, it continued for him in Frankfurt. He became DFB Sporting Director after being assistant manager of the World Cup team. In the final DFB.de interviews of the week in 2014, Flick speaks with editor Steffen Lüdeke about achievements, memories and developments.
DFB.de: Mr. Flick, Christmas is over. How did you spend the festive period?
Hansi Flick: The same as I do every year. We celebrate Christmas with the whole family, really relaxed, with good food and good conversation. It’s a very valuable time for us and I think it’s the same for most people. I didn’t spend enough time with my family this year, so it’s even nicer to spend a relaxed time with them now.
DFB.de: You had virtually no break after the World Cup. You went on to the U19 European Championships in Hungary almost straight after arriving in Berlin. Then you had a busy schedule. You officially began your new job as DFB Sporting Director on 1st September and had a lot of appointments in the opening period. Have you actually had the chance to really evaluate the results in Brazil?
Flick: That’s not something you can plan to do. I can’t exactly sit down and say: 'So, now I’ll process the World Cup.' I also don’t find it that much of a burden that I carried on without a break after the World Cup. I took on new tasks, I’m very ambitious and was therefore very much looking forward to what awaited me. And my expectations of the role were met after the first few months. The work as DFB Sporting Director is really fun for me, I work with amazing people in an exciting field with great projects. Of course it was a really intense year but above all, it was fascinating and successful.
DFB.de: But you’ll surely be tired at the end of the year, no?
Flick: No, certainly not. Of course, I looked forward to the chance to put my feet up for a bit over Christmas. The events of 2014 didn’t make me tired though - they motivated me. I’m full of vigour, power and zest. We have a lot planned for DFB for 2015 and beyond.
DFB.de: We still see that goal from Mario Götze in Brazil today and the celebrations in the Marcana. Apart from these, are they any smaller moments at the World Cup which you particularly remember?
Flick: The first whistle in the Maracana and everything that followed was pretty special. I had a deep feeling of satisfaction, and i know that Joachim Löw, Oliver Bierhoff and Andy Köpke felt this way too. There were many special moments during the course of the tournament too. It was simply amazing to experience how everything developed, in particular the mood inside the whole camp in Camp Bahia. I remember the afternoon well during which the families visited the players. It was between the matches against France and Brazil. It was a big heart-warming moment. I spent time with Oliver Bierhoff on that evening and said to him: “Oliver, it’s exactly how we imagined it. Like one big family.”
DFB.de: A good feeling, when planning pays off.
Flick: You can’t plan. Not in that way. But we of course hoped that it would though. But it wasn’t so sure that it would all work. It wasn’t completely clear at times whether the base camp would be completed at times. And then you don’t know wither how the group will react, whether they will develop team spirit. Whether they will all subordinate, whether their egos will fade. And they did it all. And I believe that the feeling of togetherness at the camp played a massive role. Compliments have to go to simply all the players, everyone attached to the team.
DFB.de: The World Cup is over. You almost immediately started office as Sporting Director afterwards. How was your arrival at Otto-Fleck-Schneise? How were you welcomed by the organisation?
Flick: I wasn’t exactly an outsider, I already knew a lot of colleagues previously. Therefore it was amazing how I was welcomed. Everybody gave me the feeling that they were happy that I was there and took on the work as Sporting Director. The colleagues at the head office supported me where they could, not only my direct team.
DFB.de: A new Sporting Director comes with new ideas. How much headwind do you intend to make?
Flick: None, as everything that I intend to do is of the interest of the association. My main concern is the sporting matters that I wish to strengthen. We shouldn’t make the mistake of hiding behind the DFB academy. Building the performance centre is fantastic but 2018 is still a long way off. We have get things up and running now, not just in four years’ time. Also personnel. The formula is simple, actually it’s a kind of circle. The DFB lives of a lot of success at the top. And the senior side live of a lot of the work in the youth sides. We now have to set when we want to be successful again as an association. I’m happy that we have a leadership here in the form of President Wolfgang Niersbach and General Secretary Helmut Sandrock, that will support me in this work, also the stand-in representative General Secretary Stefan Hans I want to name too. The whole structure of DFB is good.
DFB.de: You were in the backseat somewhat as assistant manager of the senior side. Joachim Lw took the spotlight. You said that you never destroyed this. How is it now – are you used to being at the forefront of things now as Sporting Director?
Flick: I have to get used to that, i already knew that previously. From my time as a player, as a manger in Hoffenheim too, even if it’s not in the same way as now. You also didn’t hide that much as an assistant ether. I can’t say that I would be looking for publicity but I know that the job brings an increasing interest with it. I have no problems with it, I like the responsibility.
DFB.de: In the first games after the World Cup, the World Champions had a few horrid results. How much did that unsettle you? Did you have concerns that the team wouldn’t function without assistant manager Hansi Flick?
Flick: Yeah, it was clear to me that the team just wouldn’t work without me. (laughs) Joking aside, I’m not that important. It was expected that the team would need a little time after the tournaments. Three key players retired – players, who shaped the national team in the last decade. There were also some injuries. If you value the matches against Poland and Ireland, you have to take into account the circumstances. It had nothing to do with me.
DFB.de: You visited the team on the morning of the game for some matches. How did it feel for you to return to this ‘circle’?
Flick: Honest answer?
Flick: Not right, are the wrong words. I know that I would like to have been there. And the invitations are always meant to be nice, therefore I follow them up. But I also know that I’m a little far along. I know how it works, I know how occupied and focused they all are. And on matchdays too. Everything that comes from outside and that’s including me from outside, is problematic. I was therefore there just for a short period as I didn’t want to disrupt them.
DFB.de: At the DFB 2024 event, you proposed a central pillar that has to grow the youth and senior side closer together. You’re exactly suited to it like no other with your vitality. What measures will you implement this with?
Flick: Communication. I’m in regular contact with Jogi Löw and Thomas Schneider, and with the youth coaches too. It’s planned for our youth coaches to regularly visit the senior side to merge the scouting section. And then everything will be taken to a completely new level when the academy is completed.
DFB.de: Is there an age group in the youth section that will be particularly paid attention to in future for strengthening?
Flick: The U21. The team are at the final stage of their youth career and also the education time. It’s a team, whose players will progress to the senior side next. Therefore I’ll regularly accompany this side. That’s shouldn’t mean that I don’t trust Horst Hrubesch. I don’t have a shadow of a doubt about his qualities of work, he does outstanding work. It’s more important that I’m present at this interface between the senior and youth side with my knowledge and experience.
DFB.de: The result of the World Cup analysis were among others, that there’s a lack of full-backs at the top and out and out strikers. You’ve had an overlook at Germany’s talent – what’s your perspective of this position?
Flick: Really good full-backs play in the various youth sides. It’s often that the best footballers come into the centre though, also with their clubs. It’s about recognising which players possess the quality to play at full back for us. And then put in top work with them.
DFB.de: And? How will that happen? How do you make it clear to a player that he is better deployed at right-back?
Flick: The flanks are attractive, not only due to the probably good perspectives. You can get into the game more, play that final ball, cut inside and score goals yourself. But as I say, I have no major concerns as we have good lads there. And as long as the lads we have in the youth sections make no major mistakes then we will have good full-backs in the future.
DFB.de: And centre-forwards?
Flick: I see a lot of potential here too, but not an abundance. We have Miro Klose as a prime example and also a superb role model for us of what is expected as a striker. He is technically superb, has great vision, keeps possession and is strong in the air. And he’s clinical in front of goal. We’ll always need this kind of striker.
DFB.de: Then the development of parting with the false nine? Do players, like Philipp Lahm, have to be capable of playing in several positions?
Flick: Yes. That’s exactly what we want. Typical strikers also have to take on defensive tasks. There’s a lot more flexibility now for all other positions. Therefore we’ll educate them to be variable. It’s important the players understand each and every position. Only then are they in the position to do play in other positions during a game. Players have to be able to play in different positions and know several systems.
DFB.de: The DFB Academy will open in 2018. In what areas do you hope for the most added value?
Flick: It will benefit all. The goal is to analyse football ont he next level and are able tom improve it. We want to recognise tendencies and set trends. Together with the clubs, leagues, associations, experts. It’s about gathering and generating knowledge and kicking on. Within German football and the whole of the football world.
DFB.de: Passing on knowledge to other country’s associations? Does not that mean willingly giving up a hard-worked for knowledge gap?
Flick: With the quality of our competitors, the quality of the competition increases and the higher the level the bigger the satisfaction if we win. I’m a fan of co-operation on every level as long as it’s just knowledge and allows things to happen. We’ll give our knowledge to associations, who are a little behind us. But we’ll also communicate with countries who are on the same level as us. We want to develop football and that can only happen through exchanges with others.