1. FC Köln: Coach Baumgart in an interview – “I am no longer creditworthy” – 1. FC Köln

SportBuild: Mr. Baumgart, you’ve been driving Cologne In your first season in the European Cup and be the face of the club. Is this your big break as a coach?

Stephen Baumgart (50): In my life I have often heard what I cannot do – and what others can do better. It was like that when I was a football player. But: It doesn’t have to be a shame if you’re underestimated (laughs). It’s often said: As a coach, I can only be moved by feelings – only out loud. When I hear that, I always think: How ridiculous is that actually? A lot of people think I can be boisterous. This superficiality in our society sometimes annoys me. People on the outside often don’t judge your actual work, they just reflect how they see you. Definitely, I’ll see more here in Cologne now. why? Because we played successful football.

You are the famous lifeguard in Cologne. How do you feel?

I realize that the drop we just took is very high. Especially in a city like Cologne. That is why it is clear to us that what went well this year will not be enough next year. Everything is evolving, so there will be things that we need to change.

this means?

You can’t bring in new players every season without renewing yourself. Maybe my speeches should be different, maybe they should be quieter. They may need to be held by others. During my time in Paderborn (2017-2021; ed.), players like Uwe Hünemeier took it upon themselves. You have to constantly ask everything.

Also how to play?

yes. Not every direction, but the details. That’s why we look, for example, at good online workouts that we don’t know about yet, and then decide what we can adopt.

How long do you want to keep the job?

as long as possible. I would like to be financially secure at some point, and that also goes for my family. This is my goal, I can say it clearly. As a coach in the Bundesliga, I now have the opportunity to do it for the first time.


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Source: UEFA 2022

I’ve been a professional soccer player for 15 years…

Yes, but not as much money was made back then as it is today. After my return from China (2002; ed.) I even registered that I was unemployed for a few days. My bad point was after my stint as coach at 1. FC Magdeburg.

I worked there in the 2009/10 season.

I should get a new contract in Magdeburg. Nothing came of it, I was immediately without a training job. Financial reserves were quickly used up. I’m still glad I met Hans-Peter Finkbeiner at the time. Otherwise, my coaching job will not go well in the long run.

Hans-Peter Finkbeiner is the owner of the Camp David fashion label. How much did it help you?

You have supported me financially. He paid a football coach at the time, which I could not afford myself. The costs were about 20 thousand euros. I was at the bottom then.

You could get a loan from the bank.

No, I wouldn’t do that. At that point I was no longer creditworthy. My wife earned money for our family. I have already tried to gain a foothold in other professions. In business, for example, he did not succeed. What I can do is football. That’s why I’m so glad Hans-Peter Finkbeiner helped me.

Is he more than a friend to you?

In any case. I’m also glad I was able to get it all back later. If he wasn’t with me, we wouldn’t be sitting here for the interview. Then I might have ended up becoming a bus driver or truck driver.


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Source: IMAGE

Is experiencing the dark side of life what drives you the most?

At least I want to prove to people that I can do something. I’ve also told my boys in the locker room that I’m someone I’ve also been through other times. And that they have to realize that they have the privilege of being professional players. But it’s also a short-lived privilege. Earning a lot of money is one thing. Being able to handle it and knowing that your career could end tomorrow is another thing.

How do you explain that to the players?

As a player, you have to realize that as a footballer you are something special to many – but tomorrow no one will know you anymore. The people who celebrate you today will not be there tomorrow. That being the case, you have to be able to deal with it. I learned a lot from the situation. Very important: We mastered all this together as a family. My wife was always there for me, as I was for her. We draw a lot of strength from that.

Football players often live in an imaginary world. What do you think about the fact that some Bayern players traveled to Ibiza on a private jet after winning the title early in the season?

Let her drive! My children are on vacation. And whether they’re in Mallorca or Buxtehude, it’s up to them – and that’s okay.

Hertha coach Felix Magath had denounced Bayern’s stance in the last race. Wasn’t he right?

I have great respect for Felix Magath. However, I must not stand up and say: he is right. Hertha BSC has spent a lot of money in the last couple of years (from investor Windhorst; editor) and played the plunge as we did last year – but Felix Magath has nothing to do with that. However, I don’t think it’s a good idea to look at others who became German champions two games ago instead of looking at themselves.

However, the trip to Ibiza was unusual for that time of the season.

why? Bayern Munich did something extraordinary by winning the title, so it’s totally legitimate for me to celebrate – especially since the next match wasn’t until days later. As I told the players after the last derby victory over Gladbach: If you want to celebrate, celebrate. We won the second derby in a row. Who knows if that will be the case again next season.

Bayern Munich became the champion for the tenth time in a row. Isn’t the Bundesliga losing its appeal due to the lack of excitement in the title race?

I don’t feel the Bundesliga is any less attractive – unless we tell ourselves. I prefer watching the Bundesliga more than any other league, for me it is the best after the English Premier League. Even if there’s no Ronaldo jumping around here, we have a lot of great players.

However, stars like Erling Haaland are drawn to Manchester City abroad.

And players like Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen; editor) will follow. Or you have to develop a Justin Dell player who plays in our youth team. We have a lot of good footballers, but you have to discover them and encourage them. Like Kai Havertz, who came to Leroy Sané when he left Schalke 04 for Manchester City a few years ago.

Havertz switched to Chelsea in 2020 for a fee of €100 million.

I think it is important that the boys have the opportunity to travel abroad. Antonio Rudiger, for example, who now plays at Chelsea and goes to Real Madrid. I am sure he will never develop in Germany as he did abroad. Because he was able to do a lot of very important experiments there. Today he is one of the best central defenders ever. These developments also benefit the national team.


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You work for a traditional club, which also includes Frankfurt, which won the European League. Are these clubs the biggest winners of the season?

Tradition does not equal success. You have to work for it. I have a feeling that these clubs in particular have learned a lot, not letting themselves be guided by emotions – but working with calm, objectivity and clarity. Bremen is a good example: a year ago, Frank Bowman (Werder manager; editor) should have been fired from the farm, and now everyone is very happy to have him. If you stay with yourself, then these successes can be celebrated – as Eintracht has now done. Continuous development can be seen there.

And how do you see clubs like RB Leipzig, VfL Wolfsburg or Bayer Leverkusen with business behind them?

Let me put it this way: You have completely different requirements. When we are at a loss in economic terms, we are at a loss. For other clubs, this is deducted from the group profit. However, I think these clubs have a right to be in the Bundesliga because they are doing a good job. Also: What about Dortmund? Borussia is a joint stock company, but no one is discussing that.

I once said that there are only three clubs bigger than FC in Germany. In addition to Bayern and Schalke, this includes the BVB.

This indicates the number of members. But I don’t necessarily see Dortmund as bigger than us at 1. FC Köln. Well, they’ve been more successful in the past. But this has to do with the financial means with which they worked for themselves. Such successes are also possible in Cologne. But you have to work for it. When Jürgen Klopp went to Dortmund in 2008, Dortmund was 13th in the table. He became German champion three years later. Or: Domenico Tedesco led Schalke to the vice-championship title in 2018. So why not work? You have to have a vision, believe in it, and work hard for it.

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