Dietmar Hamann, or Didi as he is affectionately known to his fans, was known as a combative defensive midfielder whose sheer presence struck fear in the eyes of his opponents. However, in person, he is as courteous as any person could be. He did not shy away from any of the Kop army who were present and were asking for his autographs.
When asked about the team that he supported as a boy, Hamann spoke of his adoration for SV Hamburg;
“I supported Hamburg because they won the European Cup against Juventus in 1983, I was nine at the time and Felix Magath scored the winning goal of the match.”
As for the reason why he left Bayern Munich for Newcastle United, Hamann stated that it was because of his need to fulfill his potential;
“I went to Bayern Munich when I was 16, I started in the national team when I was 21. I always felt I didn’t progress as much as I should and I didn’t get the recognition for the right reason. I didn’t feel that I was fulfilling my potential. And in order to achieve that I have to leave Germany and to play in the Premier League was a big thing for me. Sometimes in life, you have to take a step back to move forward”.
Asked on Brendan Rodgers’ recent appointment as Liverpool’s manager, Hamann was enthused in his belief that Rodgers could be just the man who will bring the glory days back to Liverpool;
“I hope in a few years time Liverpool will be challenging for the title. But they have to take it step by step and get into the Champions League first. I like Brendan Rodgers. He is a very good manager. He is young, enthusiastic and he played the game the way Liverpool always played it. And yes I believe he will do well.”
When asked about whether he enjoyed the management side of the game, Hamann spoke of his delight with the experience he gained and his eagerness to return to be a manager;
“Yes I enjoyed the experience and I am completing my last coaching qualification at the moment and yes I do want to get back into the management side of football but I do want to complete my qualifications first before taking my next step.”
As for his views on the current state of South East Asian football, Hamann was quick to state his keenness to see a South East Asian football team to qualify to the World Cup;
“I think it would be good to see a South East Asian team to play in a World Cup, obviously it is not easy with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Iran and Iraq. I don’t know what the exact current state of football here is, but in Europe we are seeing minnows like Estonia get into the playoff finals of the Euros, and other countries have shown that it is possible to get into major tournament with small population. And hopefully Malaysia, Indonesia will one day be able to get into a major football tournament.”
For ways to improve the quality of South East Asian football, Hamann was adamant that determination is as important if not more, than talent itself;
“You see the Gerrard shirts, Messi shirts and Ronaldo shirts here. One thing that they have to realize that these players are not born the way they are. Obviously they were given the best talent but they are the best in the world as they worked hard to get to where they are. They were born with the talent mentally but talent alone does not get you anywhere as I have seen players with the best talent who did not make a living out of football but I have seen players who did not have much talent but have played in the game at the highest level for fifteen years because they are determined. I feel sometimes if kids these days have the drive they could really succeed at the top level.”