Benjamin Schmidramsl (32) has been playing for VfB Eichstätt since he was four. At the time, the small club from Northern Bavaria was in the Kreisliga C. Now, Eichstätt are in the Regionaliga Bayern, where captain Schmidramsl led the team to a second-place finish and secured qualification for the DFB-Pokal. In an interview with DFB.de, the banker spoke about the upcoming DFB-Pokal match against Hertha BSC.
DFB.de: You’ve spent 28 years with VfB Eichstätt. How has the club changed since 1991, Herr Schmidramsl?
Benjamin Schmidramsl: There have been several organisational and structural changes at the club. That needed to happen, especially if you take into consideration that in 1991 the club was still playing in the lowest division, and has since moved up into the highest amateur league in Bavaria. Despite becoming more professional in some aspects, we are still solely an amateur club. Almost all of our employees are volunteers. The work they do for us is priceless.
DFB.de: Over your many years at the club, have you never had a desire to take on a new challenge, possibly as a professional?
Schmidramsl: I’ve always been motivated and ambitious. But, I lacked the quality to make it as a professional. My family, studies and job were always a priority for me. Every now and then there would be some interest in me from within the world of amateur football. However, I’m an Eichstätter through and through and never had the desire to change clubs. At the same time, we were doing so well over the last few years that joining another club would not have brought me much further.
DFB.de: As Bavarian amateur champions, VfB Eichstätt qualified for their first-ever DFB-Pokal campaign in club history. Did you ever think that you would be able to celebrate something like that with Eichstätt?
Schmidramsl: Never in a million years! Finishing as runners-up in the Regionalliga Bayern was sensational. There are a lot of clubs who we simply cannot compete with financially or in terms of infrastructure. However, we were able to make this dream come true due to our incredible team spirit.
DFB.de: Is simple taking part in the DFB-Pokal a dream come true for you?
Schmidramsl: Definitely. That’s something that’s true for every player on our team. It will be a massive highlight for VfB Eichstätt.
DFB.de: Eichstätt were drawn against Bundesliga side Hertha BSC in the first round. What was your reaction after the draw?
Schmidramsl: I watched the draw while packing my suitcase to go on vacation. Since it took a while for our name to be drawn and many high-quality opponents had already been chosen, I was starting to get worried that we wouldn’t be drawn against a first-division side. The anticipation made our joy at getting drawn against Hertha BSC even bigger. Now, we just have to hope that the city is as excited for the match as we are and that we draw a large crowd.
DFB.de: Did you have another dream opponent in mind?
Schmidramsl: No, I didn’t really have another opponent in mind. The only thing that mattered to me was that we would be able to prove ourselves against a Bundesliga side. Hertha BSC are a very attractive opponent.
DFB.de: How will you break down the capital city club?
Schmidramsl: We need to be confident and cannot allow ourselves to hide. We will only have a chance if we approach this task with the right level of self-confidence.
DFB.de: The match will take place in Ingolstadt. Will this be the biggest match in Eichstätt’s history?
Schmidramsl: I hope that it becomes a massive football fest (laughs).That depends on how much interest there is from the fans and the performance we deliver. It will definitely be the highlight of my career so far.
DFB.de: Despite finishing as runners-up last season, a potential promotion into the 3. Liga would not be realistic financially or in terms of infrastructure. When would that be a realistic goal?
Schmidramsl: To be completely honest, right now there’s no chance of having a professional side in Eichstätt. The circumstances within the club don’t allow for that. Being promoted to the 3. Liga would only be a realistic goal if we had a private investor back the club.
DFB.de: How would you rate the club’s chances of repeating their most successful finish to a season in club history?
Schmidramsl: We’ve just come through a period of upheaval and had to let several key players go. Seeking to repeat as runners-up would be presumptuous and naive of us. We know where we come from and for now, we want to secure our place in our current division as quickly as possible.