The Bundesliga is back underway, and come September, the first international fixtures could follow. Germany captain Manuel Neuer is already looking forward to being reunited with his Die Mannschaft teammates. In an interview with the DFB journal, the 34-year-old goalkeeper spoke about his new experiences during the corona crisis and the extensive social activities being carried out by the team, which have once again been significantly increased.
DFB.de: The Bundesliga is now being played again and there should be international fixtures again in September. How are you picturing the reunion with your teammates, different from usual?
Manuel Neuer: It’s hard to judge at the moment, because we’re being fed new information on an almost daily basis, because national and state by state regulations are being adjusted, and because no one knows yet what the situation will be in (hopefully) three months’ time. What we’re all missing at the moment is human interaction, so obviously I’m looking forward to the national team being back together at some point. That includes the management and the backroom staff as well as the players. I don’t think anything in particular would need saying in that moment, especially considering that we’re all in constant contact digitally. We are really excited, though, to see each other in person again.
DFB.de: Has this time made you more excited for the EUROS, particularly in Munich?
Neuer: Obviously the current times have shifted everyone’s focus onto other things. Now, with the Bundesliga on again, as the only professional league in Europe, we as international players are of course wondering how things will progress. All of us were incredibly excited for the tournament, not least because of the three home games in front of our own supporters in the group stage. As soon as the rest of Europe’s leagues return to action and a decision is made regarding the procedure for the tournament in summer 2021, excitement for the EUROS will grow as the time approaches.
DFB.de: To what extend is the corona crisis affecting you on a personal level and your outlook on life?
Neuer: First and foremost, it’s the same for us footballers as it is for everyone else. We’ve all suddenly been confronted with a totally unfamiliar situation and all of us have had to learn to live with it. I don’t just notice this within the team, but also in my friend circles. I also don’t think this learning curve has come to an end yet. The little things in life have become more important to us again.
DFB.de: Just like many of the national team players, you have your own foundation. Do you as footballers, internationals at that, feel like you have a particular responsibility?
Neuer: Yes, we do. We are all aware of this responsibility and we want to fulfil our role as role models in society. The same is of course true for my teammates. Not all of them have their own foundation, but lots of them are socially active. It doesn’t always have to be spoken about, but the majority of the lads are involved in various projects, not just since the corona pandemic.
DFB.de: As a team, you responded with an emergency donation of 2.5 million Euro. Did your teammates need a lot of encouragement to pull this together?
Neuer: No, not at all. We spoke about it as a board right after the international games in March were called off: Seldom has an agreement been reached so quickly.
DFB.de: Which projects have already been supported?
Neuer: The "1000 laptops" initiative for nursing homes, to support people in isolation, has been fully implemented and we’ve been able to support the booster club, ‘help for the homeless’, by using the donation to support various charities. This group is very important to us, because they were unable to follow the call to ‘stay at home’ and their living situations deteriorated even more through the pandemic.
DFB.de: Are any more projects in the pipeline?
Neuer: Yes, more projects and good causes are currently being assessed. The important thing is that the money goes to where it is needed. Regardless of corona, we as a team have been very proactive in helping the community, especially since 2019. We have supported and visited schools, hospitals, hospices and retirement homes, we’ve carried out an initiative for the RTL Telethon during every international break, and for many years we’ve been supporting the Make a Wish foundation in Münster, welcoming children with sadly not much longer to live to our home games. For me, this essential, but it gets forgotten in some discussions.
DFB.de: What’s the idea being the trust foundation "Die Mannschaft"?
Neuer: We noticed that despite doing an awful lot to fulfil our responsibility as role models, we’ve not had any structure or documentation behind the selection of projects and initiatives. So we sat down and thought, what is important to us? Where do we want to help out? How do we make decisions in this area? The trust foundation is not intended to be at the forefront of everything, but to help us consolidate all of our activities. As players, we’re particularly proud of the basis of this foundation has been collected and made available by the support team. That is also something which defines us as a team.