|German Football Coach|
|Club as Coach||Fortuna Dusseldorf|
|Club as Player||xxxx|
2013 05 24 Retrieve
[q: Mr. Pfannenstiel, you are known as a world traveler. Where did you find to be the most beautiful?] That’s a difficult question. Brazil was culturally and football wise a great place. For me as a footballer, it was a great honour to play in Brazil. There are few Europeans who have had the good fortune to be a professional there. Life in general in Brazil is just great. Then Vancouver was another great place in terms of lifestyle. Emotionally it is England, Norway and New Zealand. Brazil could be however mentioned as number one
[q: What was so special because of football in Brazil?] The stadiums were at that time old, and you could not see modern arenas. But the atmosphere in the stadium and the whole experience is like a religion, football means to the people even more than for example in Germany. Football is the love of their life for the Brazilians. It was emotionally a great experience to be able to absorb that. A highlight was without a doubt one of my first games in the legendary Maracana
[q: How much are you looking forward to the World Cup next year in Brazil?] The World Cup is of course something special for me, because I was the only German so far, who was active as a professional there. I will again make lot of television appearances and will also report from the Fifa Confederations Cup. Until next year, Brazil will be one of my main residences. Also, because there is much for me to scout for my current job. [Pfannenstiel works as a scout for 1899 Hoffenheim].
[q: Do you already have a player in mind for Hoffenheim?] If I told you that now, then I’d have to kill you - it’s so top secret. But seriously, there are of course many interesting players from many countries and within Germany
[q: Do you want to continue working as a scout next year, or can you see yourself as a coach or a goalkeeping coach again?] Yes, I can see that. I was first assistant coach, then coach and goalkeeping coach in Namibia before Hoffenheim came along. It was an enjoyable experience. I think you should never shut the door on anything. Let’s see what the future brings
[q: Would England be a dream destination?] I was in England for so long, I still have good relations and family there. This is a matter of the heart. But after all the long journeys through the world, I have become accustomed to Germany again and working at Hoffenheim is great fun because you can continue to build something great. I do not stress myself on these things and just wait to see what comes next. Now I just want to fulfil my role with Hoffenheim
[q: Would you advise players and coaches to gain experience abroad?] For a player, it’s certainly not bad to gain experience abroad. This is the best school of life. I think this is a great life experience, which further develops the personality.
[q: All of Germany has been for weeks only speaking about the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. What is your take on it?] I am very fortunate to be able to comment on the game for BBC. I see this from a neutral perspective. But of course it is a wonderful story that two German teams are in the finals. Last year I was commentating for the BBC and in the end the Germans lost against Chelsea and I was unfairly ridiculed. This time there is at least one German winner. Who will win then, I have to honestly say I do not care. The better team will win.
However, Bayern have had a great season and are currently probably the best Bayern team of all time. That says a lot about Bayern. But the young players and the refreshing football that Dortmund play - to the great motivator that is Jürgen Klopp - I think that Dortmund have a great chance to spoil the season for Bayern. They are aware of this danger, which is why they are under great pressure. Dortmund have less to lose
2015 08 01 Retrieve
[Lutz Pfannenstiel, the former goalkeeper and the only man to play professionally each of FIFA’s six confederations, on the 101 days he spent in jail in Singapore. Pfannenstiel was later cleared of all charges] I was a typical footballer – I was thinking about cars, women, clothes, going out in the evening and football. Going to prison was the worst story of my life, but it changed my life completely. You go to one of the hardest prisons in the world, in a country where there’s the death penalty, there’s still caning, there’s many criminals in one cell. You wake up in the morning, after sleeping on the floor, next to a guy who slashed up his mother and father. You see people getting killed. You had no bed, no toilet, no toilet paper. I was treated like an animal. I was punched in the face every day. I had to punch them back after a while. I had stitches everywhere. It was just a nightmare. But I realised then, at this lowest point of my life, that there were still positive things to go after … I could have sat there and cried every night, but I tried to look at the positives. You have to believe in yourself, believe you can achieve whatever you want to, and I think going to prison gave me this power. And I managed to play professional football for another ten years
2017 02 18 Retrieve
[Lutz Pfannenstiel tells about being phoned by the police for stealing a penguin] The police phoned me about a stolen penguin. They had received an anonymous tip-off that I might be involved. But it wasn’t me. I urge the thief to return the penguin, as this is no joke. I know it well from the sins of my youth. In 2003, I took a penguin home from its colony and put it in my bathtub. But I returned it inside two days after my club chairman explained penguins were a protected species. Besides, my housemates were not delighted, as it stank like a fish factory. I did not steal it – I just borrowed it
2019 08 24 Retrieve
[Lutz Pfannenstiel says Promising talent Dheeraj Singh needs to play in Europe] I know Gurpreet (Singh), I think he is a decent goalkeeper and I think he can play for a smaller European club. Subrata Paul was a top-level player for many years, someone who carried himself well. Nawaz (Mohammad) and Dheeraj (Singh), for a U-17 team, were very good goalkeepers. There wasn’t much difference between the German and European goalkeepers (at the U-17 level). I enjoyed working with them, they are exceptionally talented
I always give the example of Ochoa, he was a big TV star. He decided that he doesn’t care about money, he wanted to play in Europe and develop his talents. He refused the money and played the Euro League. He went back to Mexico now for 4 million a year. He had a very good character
Nawaz is very athletic but a bit short, Dheeraj has the height and can play in Europe but he needs to be stubborn. If he stays in the Indian league for a few more years, he won’t come out (to Europe) any more, that is a fact. At 19-20 years of age, you need to go out
I played against Bhutia when he played for Bury, he scored a penalty against me. He was the first Indian football ambassador. He struggled but when he came back home, he was the star. Dheeraj and at least two more guys - One of them is Boris Singh - has the quality to play in Europe. The European teams saw him (Boris) and were like, ‘Oh he’s really good!’. The easier way is to play for a big team and earn money and stay at home
I was surprised when the German coach Nicolai left on short notice. I saw the way team was going by then, they really improved step by step. They played against our U-17 in Hoffenheim, they did a good job at the World Cup but I thought they could have done better. I saw the way things were going so I was surprised
We had a big project planned with Hoffenheim in India, based in Mumbai but the problem was that things were not done the way we thought it will be done. We were going into all the rural areas and try to bring in the top 30 players to Germany for a year. In the end, the project died due to various reasons. The kids we scouted were very good. It was just unlucky, it would have been a good project. India is not considered a typical football country, don’t get me wrong. But if it comes to the numbers’ game, if you’re having a large number of kids playing football, the team should be able to qualify for the World Cup. But the problem is to filter and find talents because the country is so big. Not easy to get the best XI on the field, it is a structural problem.
German youth education is very good, our academies are very good. The academies in Spain and France are very good. But if we take that setup to India it won’t work because it’s like a continent, you need lots of people and is difficult. I hope India qualifiers for the World Cup one day because it will produce a tremendous reaction. Because you find a lot of good Indian (-origin) footballers, in New Zealand, Australia etc ( such as Sarpreet Singh). If you pick out exceptional talents who are in other countries because they have Indian parents and let them play for India, I think you will make the next but obviously, that is difficult. India is like a sleeping giant
2019 11 30 Retrieve
[Fortuna Dusseldorf chief Pfannenstiel keeping faith in struggling Ampomah] He [Ampomah] has to change and increase his defensive work. He is not alone. [Former Dusseldorf attacker] Benito Raman had to learn that too and it came late. This is often forgotten today. He [Ampomah] lacks a goal, and he has had to be properly fit after his injuries. He will surely be as confident as he was at the beginning of the year again
2020 02 13 Retrieve
[Roberto Firmino may not get the goals of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane at Liverpool but he is the ‘perfect fit’ for Jurgen Klopp and the real MVP at Anfield] He was recommended to us by the agency ROGON. ROGON has one of the best networks in Brazil. With Carlos Eduardo and Luiz Gustavo, they had already brought two top players to Hoffenheim. I had seen Firmino play before, but I didn’t know his name.
Roberto played in Santa Catarina, just like me [as an active player]. I saw him there as a teenager. The youth games were mostly one day before ours. He stood out in the Campeonato Catarinense [State Championship of Santa Catarina]. But at the time, I wasn’t a scout. I was a goalkeeper.
As a youth Roberto did not play for any national team. He was a blank slate because he played in Brazil with the second division team Figueirense. After the scouting analysis, it was clear that he was special. It was an important step for the club.
Roberto is originally from north eastern Brazil. Maceio is a tough city, a social hotspot. He was lucky to come to Santa Catarina. Everything there is very European, very Italian and German. That’s why Figueirense was the perfect intermediate step for him.
Nevertheless, he had the normal start-up difficulties that most South Americans have. He came to Hoffenheim at the age of 19 as a slim boy, could not speak German. But during this time, his special character came to light. He worked a lot more than most, always doing extra shifts on the pitch or in the weights room and developing physically very quickly. He had the unconditional will.
He combined the best of both football philosophies [Brazil and German]: a lot of work without the ball, discipline and Brazilian enthusiasm. He got better and better.
It was completely understandable that the move to a top club would follow at some point. That it then became Liverpool and that he later got a coach like Jurgen Klopp who had a clear plan with him is like winning the lottery.
Everyone always talks about the goals of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, but for me Firmino is the MVP of the team. How he finds gaps and works backwards - that’s the perfect fit
2020 02 13b Retrieve
[Ofori was monitored by Real Madrid & Man Utd before taking on Fortuna Dusseldorf challenge] A transfer is always about teamwork, with different departments such as sports management, analysis and scouting all flowing into one another. One of the highlights was here at Fortuna Dusseldorf. Namely Kelvin Ofori. He came to us at the beginning of the season at the age of 17, completely unknown by most people and without boots. He was like a bag of tricks. Ofori was trained in the Right to Dream Academy in Ghana. This is a private football academy with great influence from Manchester City.
I knew Ofori from my time in Africa, even then he was considered an exceptional talent. It was clear to me early on that he had the potential to play at some point in Europe and possibly at City. Because his father refused to sign a new contract, other players were promoted and Ofori remained largely unknown to many.
It’s true [Real Madrid and Manchester United were interested in him]. After a few conversations, we decided to invite him over as a guest player. A few weeks later he came to us in the training camp, behind him a 16-hour flight over north Africa and England. He was totally tired and didn’t even have soccer boots with him. Still, he really wanted to get involved right away. So he trained with boots that were one size too big for him and still made a great impression. Now he has a three-year contract
2020 06 05 Retrieve
[How school struggles saw Courtois miss out on Hoffenheim move and eventually join Chelsea] In the summer of 2011 there was a strange situation in the goalkeeper market. I worked as head of international relations and scouting for Hoffenheim, when suddenly two of the greatest talents in Europe appeared at the same academy. Koen Casteels and Thibaut Courtois were developing into hot prospects at the excellent goalkeeping school of KRC Genk and, as an excellent sports director, Ernst Tanner had that information on his screen. We were very quick at the time in 2010 and Courtois was on our minds. There were intensive discussions and everything looked good for a transfer. His parents really wanted their son to graduate first, though, and there would be no transfer before that. Then, the boy had some problems in school at this point and was in danger of being held back. That’s why the transfer broke off.
The fact that the careers of Koen Casteels and Thibaut Courtois have developed so differently – at least in the public’s view – is down to two things, in my opinion: Casteels’ introverted attitude and the fact that he went to Hoffenheim, and Courtois going to Chelsea and Atletico instead. At the time, it could easily have been the other way around
2020 06 12 Retrieve
[Lutz Pfannenstiel says Nagelsmann is Europe’s most exciting coach - better tactically than Guardiola] Julian is a driven man, a perfectionist. He can’t lose - and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a competitive game or a casual duel in table tennis, a round of Mikado or a duel with me on penalties. Very good is not good enough for him; that became clear at a young age. So, it is no surprise that he is probably the most exciting coaching talent in Europe today. Talent is the wrong word. Julian is not a talent anymore as he has a lot of experience despite only being 32 years old. At TSG he trained the U17s and the U19s. He already worked as an assistant coach for the first team in 2013 and then trained them as head coach for over three years from February 2016 before moving to RB Leipzig. Julian knows what it’s like being in a relegation battle and the Champions League. Therefore I would say Julian is probably the most exciting coach at the moment.
What also impresses me incredibly about Julian is his ability to analyse. For example, if I am a DAZN expert during a live game, I should and must recognise certain things. It takes me three minutes to decrypt a basic formation, for example. Julian needs about 30 seconds. Julian is even better than Pep Guardiola when it comes to reading the opponents’ style of play and adjusting the tactics accordingly during a game. Pep is someone who analyses a lot and then makes a decision. With Julian, the analysis runs parallel to the observation. We’re talking about a very small window of time, but it can be crucial. Incidentally, this is not a talent, but a gift. I’ve met a lot of coaches, but Julian has this quality exclusively. It is unique.
2020 06 13 Retrieve
[Lutz Pfannenstiel on Julian Nagelsmann] Julian Nagelsmann is a driven man, a perfectionist. He can’t lose – and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a competitive game or a casual duel in table tennis, a round of Mikado or a duel with me on penalties. Very good is not good enough for him – that became clear at a young age. So, it is no surprise that he is probably the most exciting coaching talent in Europe today
2020 06 17 Retrieve
[Former goalkeeper and current Fortuna Dusseldorf board member Lutz Pfannenstiel says that Eintracht Frankfurt sporting director Fredi Bobic could return Manchester United to glory] I’m very excited to see where Fredi’s path leads him. I think there are three options. First, he could stay in Frankfurt for a long time, but I personally do not believe that. After all, what more could he achieve after double qualifying for the Europa League and winning the DFB-Pokal? Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig are currently difficult to reach for Frankfurt. Second, he could move to a top European club. Or third, he could do something completely different, something more exotic and work for a club where he can build something structurally. I personally would like to see how Fredi works with a bag full of money and which players he would sign. Even if working at a top club is completely different compared to developing and building up a club with limited resources, I am sure that Fredi would be up to the task. I am firmly convinced that he could lead a club like Manchester United back to the top. The question is rather whether he wants that. Conversely, top European clubs have long been on the downturn. At Man Utd, for example, restructuring with a strong sports director who works in the background of the trainer or manager, as they say on the island, would certainly work very well
[During Bobic’s spell with Stuttgart, the club decided to sell Joshua Kimmich] Fredi wanted to keep Joshua Kimmich, for example, but the club was more interested in the quick money that could be made with him after his successful time at RB Leipzig. Another example of how unconventional and long-term Fredi thinks: Saul Niguez was with his father for talks at VfB in Stuttgart. Saul was a rough diamond at the time, 18 years old and just loaned to Rayo Vallecano. With VfB everything was already clear. For about €8 million (£7.2m/$9,), he could have been signed. Fredi was convinced of Saul, but did not get his commitment because the amount was too high for others. Today Saul is probably one of the best midfielders in the world and worth many times over