SV Rödinghausen drew the biggest team possible in the DFB-Pokal second-round draw. Record German champions FC Bayern München will travel to Rödinghausen to take on the Regionalliga side on Tuesday 30th October (20:45 CEST). It is a very special occasion for Rödinghausen defender Azur Velagic, a former youth defender in the FC Bayern academy, as he faces his former club.
After spending time with SSV Jahn Regensburg and FC Ingolstadt II, Velagic joined SV Rödinghausen in 2016 and, in an interview with DFB.de, the 26 year old spoke about the cup match, his memories of his time with Bayern, and facing world superstars.
DFB.de: Azur Velagic, is it a dream draw for you and your side to be facing FC Bayern München in the DFB-Pokal?
Azur Velagic: Of course it is a very special match for me personally, as I’m from Munich and was part of FC Bayern’s youth team. As a club we may have wanted to get a slightly easier team to improve our chances of progressing but we are really looking forward to playing Bayern.
DFB.de: What memories do you have of your time in the youth teams at Bayern?
Velagic: I played for Bayern’s C and D teams and it was very special for as a child to be playing for them. I look back on my time with the club fondly.
DFB.de: What was it like to be a youth player surrounded by the world stars?
Velagic: Everything was very open. From the youth teams to the first team, everyone trained at Säbener Straße and got the chance to see the senior players. At that time, Ottmar Hitzfeld was the coach and the stars included Oliver Kahn, Mehmet Scholl and Giovane Elber. When the opportunity came, you got the chance to see them train.
DFB.de: Did you learn anything from any of the senior Bayern players?
Velagic: Yes. You learn a lot of things during your time as a youth players. If the senior players were training the day after a match, they would come over to us. Sometimes there was the opportunity to take a few photos. For example, I had a photo at my parents’ home of me with current sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić. He was one of my favourite players as he also is from Bosnia, just like me.
DFB.de: Why did you end your time with FC Bayern after two years?
Velagic: A lot can change at the club over the course of a year. A few players must leave so that new talent can be brought into the club. It didn’t exactly work out for me.
DFB.de: What happened to some of your colleagues who you played with at FC Bayern?
Velagic: None of my generations managed to graduate into the senior squad at FC Bayern. Nicola Sansone, for example, had a very successful career and is currently under contract with Villarreal in Spain.
DFB.de: Back to the task at hand for you and Rödinghausen: What have you done to prepare for the DFB-Pokal clash against your former club?
Velagic: We want to reach the next round of the competition (laughs). No, jokes aside: We want to enjoy the atmosphere and the match. I am really looking forward to defending against stars such as Robert Lewandowski and Frank Ribery. It is also very special to be playing in a televised match with millions of people watching. It isn’t very often that a Regionalliga club gets the opportunity to play in front of such a large TV audience.
DFB.de: Rödinghausen head coach Enrico Maaßen’s former side, SV Drochtersen/Assel, played very well against Bayern in the first round of the DFB-Pokal, only falling to a narrow 1-0 defeat. Does this give you hope for your match?
Velagic: If we only lose by one goal, of course I’d be very happy. However, the game against SV Drochtersen/Assel was before the start of the season, so maybe Bayern weren’t 100%. That’ll be different now.
DFB.de: The first cup match against Dresden took place in Lotte, where the Bayern game is in Osnabrück. Does it feel like a home game?
Velagic: Definitely. Osnabrück is only half an hour’s drive from Rödinghausen. There was huge interest in tickets, we’ll be supported by a lot of fans.
DFB.de: In the first round of the cup, you beat 2. Bundesliga side Dynamo Dresden. Looking back, what are your memories of the surprising win?
Velagic: We went behind twice and came back both times. The fact that we scored the winning goal in extra time of extra time from the corner was an incredible story, of course. We were a bit reserved at the start of the game, but it was important that we stopped respecting the opponent so much and just played our game.
DFB.de: Your team is likely to be the least-known to most fans. Can you introduce us to a couple of players who, like you, also have an interesting backstory?
Velagic: There are some players with experience playing in higher leagues. Our captain Daniel Flottmann played in the third division for Fortuna Köln. Our goalkeeper Niclas Heimann was in the youth academy at Chelsea and then had spells at Red Bull Salzburg and second division side Energie Cottbus. Tobias Steffen played for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Europa League, but unfortunately he’s injured at the moment. All in all, we have a good team.
DFB.de: What’s possible with regard to the DFB-Pokal this season?
Velagic: We’ve started well and we want to recreate our fifth-placed finish from last season. Nobody would say no to getting into the top three, either. We also want to qualify for the DFB-Pokal for next season.###more###