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2022.04.09 19:14 Frissítve: 2022.04.09 19:14

Lothar Matthäus prefers his own little world instead of the spotlight

He is a true citizen of the world, and he has spent almost his entire life in the spotlight. However, not many people know that 61-year-old Lothar Matthäus, capped 150 times for Germany, is a lover of hiking alone in the mountains or that as a child, he packed football cleats in the shoe factory to earn some pocket money. In addition to working in Hungary as a coach, he also had a job in Austria, Serbia, Brazil, Israel, and Bulgaria, has not sat on the bench for ten years, but he does not mind it at all.

The world champion, Ballon d'Or winner, real opinionist, beloved sports commentator, and former head coach of the Hungarian national team has also revealed that he feels most content when he can spend time in the mountains or just take a walk in the forest (Photo: Lothar Matthäus/archive)

 

You grew up in a small village near Erlangen. What was your childhood like?
– Fabulous. I just loved it. Family has always been important to me; my parents provided security. Then I soon became addicted to football, and from then on, I played football in the backyard all day. I had a little goal net, and I could aim at it for hours.

Did you live comfortably?
– My mother and father worked hard to make sure we had everything. At dinner, the table was not set with gold tableware... My parents worked from morning to evening on weekdays, and my older brother and I went to play football immediately after school – either in our garden or in the park nearby.

What did your father do?
– Herzogenaurach is a real sports town where one of the largest sports equipment companies, Puma, comes from. Dad worked at the factory there. By the age of five, I could have made a pair of football cleats with my eyes closed. We lived close to the factory, I knew everyone, and I spent time with my father next to the production lines several times a week. Even if we didn't have everything at home, we always got something to play football with thanks to the sports equipment manufacturer: we received shorts, socks, and T-shirts.

(Photo: AFP)

 

What about shoes...?
– I lived the life of the younger sibling... My brother is four years older than me. When he grew out of stuff, I got them right away. As a child, I never had a new bike, I always got his.

Does your brother live back home in Herzogenaurach?
– Yes, my parents and him. I have an excellent relationship with my brother, we often talk on the phone, and if I can, I visit them back home. My parents never liked to be on the road; they were on an airplane about three times in their lives... On the other hand, how many times did I travel, take off and land?! But it was never a problem, they accepted that this was my life, and I knew they were happy at home. Going back to the football shoes: there were times when I collected the money alone for them.

How did you get the money for the cleats?
– I earned it. Sometimes, I packed football cleats in the factory, and other times, I delivered newspapers in the village. Working has never been a problem for me. My parents set a good example in this regard; they never had money to burn. They were always collecting it for something. When they saved money and could move into a bigger house, they were able to build a 100-square-meter building. I helped with the roof work: my brother and I sat upstairs and stacked the roof tiles.

Lothar Matthäus: I wasn't the most talented player in my age group, but the fact that I wanted to succeed the most was for sure! I never gave up. I stayed out after training to practice more, and I was already aware then that I wanted to be the best at everything.

At what age did you start playing football?
– I was kicking the ball when I was two years old, and at the age of nine, I was already playing for the local club. I played with my dad and my brother from morning to night on weekends, but we often went to the mountains to hike. My love for nature is probably from that time.

Is it true that sometimes you go on a retreat to the Italian mountains?
– I like to disappear from the eyes of the world. Most of my life has been in the spotlight; sold-out stadiums, matches, travels, dinners... I love solitude as an older person, I like to go to the mountains and take a walk in the forest for days. I just love nature. I get up in the morning, cycle on the mountain roads, and when I get tired, I sit down in the grass, I do nothing, just feel good. In the evenings, I usually stay in a small guesthouse.

You also love skiing. Did you go anywhere this winter?
– I rented an apartment in Kitzbühel for the end of February. What Wembley or Maracanã are in football, it is Kitzbühel in skiing. There are the best and fastest pistes, and not to mention that it's close to Munich. If I'm busy, I get in the car and I'm at my apartment in an hour and a half.

(Photo: Imago)

 

The past two years have been all about the coronavirus and closed borders. Did you have a hard time being confined?
– Honestly, no. In fact, I enjoyed it. It was good to get away from the eyes of the world... A lot of people think it's my life to be in the spotlight and I like to be written about and be on the magazine covers. It's nuts! I'm enjoying myself in my own little world.

– It's known that you love going to restaurants. What is your favorite cuisine?
– Italian cuisine is close to me. I especially like Italian restaurants; it was not a coincidence that I was a footballer for Internazionale for four years, and I thoroughly learned about the local food there. I like a good pizza, delicious pasta, of which I can make one or two at home – pretty well.

I bet you're taking care of your fitness.
– I like to eat well, but I don't give up sports either. I go for a run five days a week.

If you are in Budapest, where do you usually go?
– I either run or cycle on Margaret Island or I go to Normafa. I don't like treadmills.

1978: I was around 17 years old in this photo, and that hairstyle was popular back then. It was not easy to find such a picture as in our childhood we did not take as many photos as nowadays. (Photo: AFP)
1990: I won the Ballon d'Or! I will never forget this year; it was the best year of my life at least regarding football: I became a world champion and the German footballer of the year. (Photo: Getty Images)
2004: We defeated Germany with Sándor Torghelle's double. The match was in Kaiserslautern, and I will never forget the 2-0 win then. I have many good memories as head coach of the Hungarian national team. (Photo: Imago)
2010: Oktoberfest is always a big event in Munich. I like good beer; there's nothing better than Bavarian beers. We often dressed up when we went to the festival; these events have a special atmosphere. (Photo: Imago)
2020: As a television commentator. It's always exciting to have a broadcast, but it's been a while since I started routinely bringing what's expected of me. I enjoy this type of work and hope to do it for a long time. (Photo: Imago)

Is sport the secret to everything?
– I maintain my health, and I keep myself fresh emotionally. If one doesn't have enough time for their body and mental freshness, they will be apathetic sooner or later.

– Does your 9-year-old son Milan still play football?
– Yes, and he loves it very much. We spend a lot of time together. He lives with his mother in Munich and goes to a small club's training. It's not Bayern Munich because the club does not have such an age group. In Germany, we watch a lot of matches on television; he knows all the top scorers in the Bundesliga and the Champions League results by heart. As I see it, he is really interested in football.

Who is his favorite?

– Robert Lewandowski, Joshua Kimmich and Jamal Musiala.

– Can he become a great footballer?
– He loves the game, he enjoys it, but he's not the most skillful guy in his age group. But that's not the goal. The most important thing for me right now is that he loves what he does. Back in the day, I didn't just use my talent to achieve what I've achieved...

FIVE DIVORCES, FOUR CHILDREN
The international press likes to write about Lothar Matthäus' private life, who gave a reason for it. At the end of last year, he got divorced for the fifth time. He has a total of four children from his marriages. His last wife, Anastasia Klimko, is 27 years younger than him, and their son Milan is nine years old. Matthäus has three children from his previous four marriages, and the longest one lasted 11 years with his first wife, Silvia, with whom he has two daughters, Alisa and Viola. He has a son, Loris, from Swiss television hostess Lolita Morena. Matthäus was with Marijana Čolić of Serbia for four years, and he also married Ukrainian model Kristina Lilian Chudinova in Las Vegas.

– With your perseverance?
– It's kind of like that. I wasn't the most talented in my age group either, but the fact that I wanted success the most is for sure! I never gave up. I stayed out to practice after training, I knew at the time that I wanted to be the best at everything. I took the right steps at the right time, and somehow, I always transferred at the right moment. I signed with Bayern Munich from Mönchengladbach, then to Inter. I could have transferred sooner, but I always waited until I felt I was ready for another challenge.

You made a lot of money during your career. Have you ever thrown it around?
– As a child, my parents taught me to appreciate the value of money. I have never thrown money around; I could always appreciate it. Of course, that doesn't mean I was stingy, that I didn't have good cars or a nice apartment. But those who think the wheel was diamond-encrusted are wrong.

Do you have a lot of friends, or is this circle tight?
– I could list my acquaintances for the rest of my life, but I can count my friends with my two hands. Most of them are, of course, from football, but I still keep in touch with some from home in Herzogenaurach.

What is your relationship with Bayern Munich?
– When I'm at home in Germany, I often go to the training center. I can safely say I'm going home there as well. The atmosphere at the club is good, the footballers do the exercises while smiling from ear to ear in training, and they swell with strength and self-confidence. And if anyone, I know what it is like for a footballer to await the challenges with sufficient confidence, because I won a World Cup and a few league titles.

WITHOUT A BENCH FOR MORE THAN TEN YEARS
Lothar Matthäus began his coaching career with Austrian club Rapid Wien and then worked for Partizan Belgrade. After that, he took over the Hungarian national team with whom he worked until 2006. Under his guidance, Hungary was able to play against several strong national teams in preparation matches and helped some Hungarian footballers sign foreign contracts. After working in Hungary, he briefly coached at Atlético Paranaense in Brazil, and then returned to the Austrian league where he became Red Bull Salzburg's coach and assisted Giovanni Trapattoni. At the end of his coaching career, he worked in Israel and has coached the Bulgarian national team most recently. He hasn't accepted a coaching job in over ten years.

– If someone had told you that little Lothar was going to be a Ballon d'Or and World Champion footballer, would you have believed it?
– I would have laughed at it. Obviously, I had dreams, but it never occurred to me that I could be the best in the world. As a child, I wanted to be part of the local team, as a teenager I dreamed of playing in the German national team, and at the age of 18, I hoped to have a world-renowned career. Luckily, I did all of them.

Is Budapest still close to your heart?
– Budapest is my home! I commute a lot between Germany and Hungary, but it is always good to go home to my apartment in Budapest. I love sitting on the roof terrace, where I can see downtown and the Puskás Aréna. Budapest is a wonderful place, and my friends also like it.

– Don't you miss working, coaching?
– No. I continue to work as an expert at the TV station, and Sky Sports also counts on my comments in a specific tone. I enjoy this job, and I'm going on a round-the-world trip where I have to promote the upcoming World Cup. I'm going to America and Asia outside of Europe, and when the tour is over, I'm going to Budapest!

SPORTS MOVIES ARE THE FAVORITES

„Sports movies are the closest to me. I've been on the road a lot in my life, I've spent a lot of time on the plane where I listen to music or watch films. Biographical films are my favorite, especially the ones related to sports. From the old movies, The Champ is one of my favorites, it has a really shocking ending."

(Translated by: Vanda Orosz)
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