Photos: © Fritz Beck
In ten years at FC Bayern, Jérôme Boateng won absolutely everything. That’s an incredible 24 titles, including two trebles. Jupp Heynckes once advised him to enjoy the game, which is how the ‘Boss’ matured into the epitome of the modern defender and was never a run-of-the-mill kind of character. You can read the full farewell interview (in German) in the club members’ magazine ’51’.
Jérôme Boateng – the interview
Jérôme, when you think about how you came to Munich ten years ago, what would be your advice to the Jérôme from back then?
“That he should enjoy being on the pitch even more, that he should play freely. You might not see it, but I’m the obsessive type, I want to do everything perfectly. Especially in my maiden season, I was very nervous and tense before matches, which is why I made a few mistakes. I played the ball too hastily, I committed stupid fouls. Jupp Heynckes was very important for me back then, he said: ‘Jérôme, you have it all, but you have to play a calmer game. Enjoy it.’ That all came with time.”
You’ve developed, as has the club. Could you have imagined in 2011 that you would embark on an era like this together? “The first thing I dreamed of when I joined Bayern was to become German champion – and to play in the Champions League. It was an extreme experience to make it to the ‘Finale dahoam’ and then to fail so spectacularly. A year later, we actually won the cup. As a child, I always watched the finals at home on our little TV. To be able to hoist the trophy myself really was incredible.”
Did you have to get used to FC Bayern more or did FC Bayern have to get used to you more?
“I don’t think Bayern had had a character like me before. I’m just not your run-of-the-mill type. But of course I also had to get used to Bayern. I’d never felt the pressure of having to win every game before. But it totally suited me. I hate losing, even as a child it was always a disaster for me.”
Click here for the big farewell documentary on Jérôme Boateng:
You became the prototype of the modern defender, who isn’t just concerned with stopping the opposing striker.
“The job is more diverse today than it used to be. Of course, defensive duties is always the most important thing for a centre-back, but the demands have increased. You also have to take responsibility in build-up play, communicate a lot, coach the team from the back.”
How did you manage to put in top performances over such a long period of time?
“Those are the expectations I have of myself. I always wanted to develop myself further, always accomplish the maximum. Just three or four days after the 2014 World Cup win, I started fitness training again and was already looking forward to the new season. I also like to compete, I always wanted to show what I could do. Playing so many games for Bayern for ten years didn’t happen by chance.”
When you see the young defenders of today, can you recognise yourself in there?
“I see a lot of parallels, for example with Tanguy Nianzou. He’s also quick and a strong tackler, he can read the game. He’s even stronger in the air than I was at his age. The lad has huge potential to become a top defender. But you can also see that he still makes careless mistakes, just like I used to.”
You once said you weren’t someone who stays in one place for long…
“And yet now it’s been ten years at Bayern. In 2018 and 2019 I was on the verge of moving. But in retrospect, I’m glad I stayed. I won the Champions League again, experienced playing under Hansi [Flick]. It was a terrific way to wrap things up. Bayern is a great club. I felt at home here, was able to explore my limits and improve. But it’s true: I’m actually someone who needs something new after three to five years. That’s why I’m looking forward to what’s coming up now.”
In his farewell interview, Hansi Flick talks about leaving Munich, great players and his legacy to successor Julian Nagelsmann: