Interview – Christoph Daum: “It’s very exciting to chop corpses”

Munich (dpa) – Christoph Daum knows the legendary revolving door in the Munich airport hotel very well. The 66-year-old can no longer count his visits to the Sport1 “double pass”, which is recorded there every Sunday, but can provide all the details about the location.

At 6 a.m., the set-up always begins, which continues until shortly before the start of the broadcast. Then Daum falls into one of the well-known red armchairs and speaks in the dpa interview about private matters, his cocaine affair and the search for types in today’s football.

What does a perfect day in Christoph Daum’s life look like?

Christoph Daum: A dream day is of course – I’ve been able to experience several such – with my family. That all four children and the grandchildren are there, that we play and talk. Of course, it can also happen that you play a round of golf and then all of a sudden do a hole-in-one. Somehow I’m on a par 3, 175 meters. It’s going nicely towards the flag, but you can’t see it clearly. Then we search, then we search – and suddenly it’s in! There was of course a lot of jubilation. On the other hand: There are so many great and happy moments that you could fill 365 days, a year, with. I keep saying: I assume that the best days will still come.

You were recently very present in the media and kept saying that your career is not over yet. What else is driving you?

Daum: My experience and my knowledge. I keep saying: Human beings, you could also make this experience available at a crucial point as a sports director or trainer. It’s my own curiosity and also my willingness to share knowledge and experience. You can of course learn to know, but you have to gain experience. If the right offer comes up, I say, bong, the bet stands, I’ll get in again. There were a few requests that I refused.

What was the strangest encounter you have ever had in your career?

Daum: It was certainly strange when I received the request from the Maldives. Of course, the small association doesn’t have much financial means. Then suddenly they offered me an island. So I said: Listen, you might show me the island when the tide is out and it’s gone when the tide is high. They laughed heartily and said you can stop by. But I found it too exotic and canceled.

In Ukraine I had the case: How do you say no to an oligarch who thinks he can do anything with money? He fulfilled everything. When I said we don’t have any accommodation, he said: Find a prefabricated house, it will be assembled in Germany and we will bring it here on the low-loader. Then you even have your German house here, of course you are completely perplexed. There were also situations in Turkey where I discovered that severe economic crises had an enormous impact on my training work. I partially paid the players out of pocket because they could no longer pay for the electricity.

Your mistake in the cocaine affair cost you the post of national coach in October 2000. How do you rate this loss compared to what you saw in the months that followed?

Daum: You can’t weight that as a percentage. The whole situation was a turning point for me, in which I had to pay a hell of a lot of hard money. But even there I managed to regain trust and credibility. The whole process was very stressful.

How annoyed you are that your career is repeatedly reduced to the cocaine affair?

Daum: That bothers me enormously, but it’s just things that have been rolled out and repeated on an epic scale in the media. That went according to the motto: hang it a little higher every day. Everyone went a step further. Everything was written, regardless of whether or not things had a true background. That was a horror time.

Besides the national coaching job, what other activities were there that you would have liked to have done, but which never came up?

Daum: I wanted to study medicine once, I wanted to study art. I was always very interested in that. Many of my fellow students continue to study medicine after completing their studies. Of course, I also went to courses there. It was extremely exciting to chop up corpses, to see that and to expose a nerve. I was incredibly fascinated by medicine. But I said I wouldn’t do that. So there were many things that interested me.

Do you regret that there are now hardly any passionate arguments like those between you and Uli Hoeneß?

Daum: I think the media regrets that much more. It is important for me that football develops further. To simply reduce it to the fact that football does not develop further due to the lack of types would be an inadmissible simplification. It is important that we allow and demand personality and that we allow players to go overboard. I already see a reluctance today that we didn’t know before.

The search for types applies not only to the coaches, but also to the players. Are there any special characters missing?

Daum: One can generally say that media training begins nowadays in adolescence. We didn’t have that before, we didn’t even have a media spokesperson. The media used to call me directly themselves, and it went straight out unfiltered. Today everything is discussed and proofread. That means, of course, there will also be censorship against the coaches and players. We didn’t even know that before.

Isn’t that something that you should dislike?

Daum: It’s a piece of mainstream and marketing. It’s about how do I sell the football. It has an incredible positivism. It’s always about simply presenting this product in a positive light. We didn’t have this economic importance before. Today you have to please the sponsor with every statement, not just the fans. We didn’t think about that at all before. Today you have to consider an incredible number of things in terms of your image. Therefore, these are all situations today in which you can no longer move as freely as you used to.

And if someone performed like a Basler, Effenberg or Daum today, they would only hold up if they performed above average. As soon as he makes a mistake or does not perform consistently well, he is nailed away twice or three times. The media, who complain about this today, have partly contributed to this with their reporting. Some have said to each other: Just pile up and do not state high standards. For me it was always like this: Much worse than that I really get poured one afterwards is not to have stated this goal. Today it is very different.

One of your guiding principles is “mood beats quality”. Why is that and is there consensus among coaches?

Daum: It counts for life, it has nothing to do with football. So it’s always a job, not just for the trainer. Every week I said: Today we have the best Tuesday training of the week. We laughed about it, we had fun, and someone added some flax. How did Martin Luther say that before? Originally, I think that means: A desperate ass does not produce a funny fart, so the dpa would say that a sad butt does not produce a funny fart or something.

Mr. Daum, would you describe yourself as self-critical?

Daum: If you are not self-critical, then there is no progress and no improvement. Self-criticism is the driving force. For me it was never the case that there was no alternative to what I did. There were always alternatives.

In Romania they once said: ‘The decisions made by me and my coaching team were correct. It would of course have been best if these decisions had resulted in short-term success’. Doesn’t that mean looking for the faults in this situation with others?

No, in the end it’s just what is not debatable. At some point X you may have made a decision that you said was the right thing to do. Afterwards it can be wrong. Afterwards you are often just smarter, but for me that is not a relinquishment of responsibility. I’ve always faced the consequences, that’s how I would see it. But I’m welcome to criticize me, but maybe there is also a discrepancy between self-perception and perception of others.

About the person: Christoph Daum (66) won championship titles in Germany, Austria and Turkey during his career. In 2001 he should have been national coach before his cocaine affair got him out of it. Daum’s last engagement ended in 2017 as the national coach of Romania.

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