Florian Krebs, now of SSV Ulm 1846, will face his former side 1. FC Heidenheim in the first round of the DFB-Pokal on Saturday (18:30 CEST). Although he left the second-tier club over five years ago, Heidenheim coach Frank Schmidt is still at the club. Krebs spoke to DFB.de about his skill of impersonating famous footballer’s voices such as Oliver Kahn.impersonating famous footballer’s voices such as Oliver Kahn.
DFB.de: You will face your former club Heidenheim in the DFB-Pokal. How excited were you about the draw, Mr Krebs?
Florian Krebs: As an amateur footballer, you hope to draw a big team like FC Bayern, Borussia Dortmund or Schalke 04, however drawing Heidenheim was an amazing draw for me personally. I had a great time there and I’m looking forward to seeing some of my old colleagues. It’s an attractive game for our club and whole region too. There has always been a rivalry between the two teams.
DFB.de: You impressed people with your impressions of former national goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and Franz ‘Kaiser’ Beckenbauer at the first-round draw. How come you are so good at these impressions?
Krebs: I watch a lot of Matze Knop and Oliver Pocher as a child on TV. They were always good at impersonating the former Leverkusen manager Reiner Calmund or both Kahn and Beckenbauer. I then tried it once and realised that it sounded alright (laughs).
DFB.de: Have you been practising this for years then?
Krebs: Not really, no. I was good without much practise and I enjoyed doing it. It’s often really funny to do at parties (laughs). I never had the intention of showing of my skills to the public though.
DFB.de: How did that come about then?
Krebs: Two years ago, we were filming a video diary for our fans during pre-season and the idea came about that I would do with my impressions. ZDF obviously found out about it, so when I was on TV doing with them they asked me to imitate Calmund, Kahn and Beckenbauer (laughs). I obviously did it, but it wasn’t my idea!
DFB.de: So you don’t want to be the new Matze Knop then?
Krebs: No. I see myself as a footballer, not as a comedian.
DFB.de: You played for your upcoming opponents for four and a half years and your then coach Frank Schmidt is still in charge at 1. FC Heidenheim. That’s quite incredible given the modern merry-go-round in football, isn’t it?
Krebs: Definitely. 1. FC Heidenheim is a perfect example of a well-structured club with a short turnover of staff. Even when they are struggling, the club still shows faith in the coach and his players. Their long-term success also shows that trust in a coach at a club will be rewarded. A lot of other clubs could learn from the way they deal with players and coaches. There are plenty of examples that prove that a high turnover of staff doesn’t lead to success and only disrupts things even further.
DFB.de: How would you describe the longest-serving coach in German football?
Krebs: Frank Schmidt finds the right balance between being your mate and a tough coach. If things are going well, he gives his players more freedom, but he also knows when to draw the line and be tough on his players.
DFB.de: Some of the current players were also there during your time, club legend Marc Schnatterer being one of them. Do you still speak to your former teammates?
Krebs: I made some good friends back then, including former player Dieter Jarosch who is now Frank Schmidt’s assistant. I still meet up with him regularly. Now and again I do still speak to Frank, as well as the chairman Holger Sanwald and players like Marc Schnatterer.
DFB.de: Ulm defeated title-holders Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 in last season’s first round. What will this game against Heidenheim come down to?
Krebs: Obviously we are huge underdogs going into the game. They have a really strong team, and last season is just one example of that. They beat Leverkusen 2-1 in the last 16 and almost put out the eventual double winners Bayern in the quarterfinals. The 5-4 defeat there was an incredible game. Everything needs to go right for us, just as it did against Eintracht Frankfurt. It’s important that we don’t go into the game fearful and we need to try to not concede for as long as possible. If we believe in ourselves from the off and have a bit of luck, another cup upset is possible.