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On the spot

On the Spot: Dietmar Hamann

The 35 year old former Bayern player has now been in the Premier League for 11 years. In 2005 he won the Champions League with Liverpool. Two years ago he moved to Manchester City.

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03.04.2009 DW-TV Kick off Dietmar Hamann

DW-TV:

What is the appeal living here. It rains a lot...I was moving around last night here in Manchester. It's, well, let's just say: it didn't feel very safe.

Dietmar Hamann:

It really does depend on where you go. The people are so incredibly warm and friendly - and you can't say that about everywhere. From the start I just felt right at home - and things haven't changed.

You've been here now a while - what's the rivalry like between Manchester United and Manchester City? Is it true that City is actually more popular in Manchester.

I think that's the same in Liverpool and in Munich – where the smaller club has more fans than the big one. In Munich, that's the case with 1860. In Liverpool there are more Everton fans, than Liverpool fans. Here it's the same. People here are mainly City fans. The Man United fans come from all over England and the world. There is of course a lot of rivalry just before the derbys. Then people are only talking about one thing. Everything is reported about the game. The media talks up the game constantly.

Man City was formed in 1880 and have been English champions twice. At the moment they are tenth. But the club is on the up: with new owner Sheik Mansur from Abu Dhabi they've got massive financial backing. Robinho has already come from Real Madrid for 40 Million Euros. It's all just a question of money.

Is that the only way to have success these days in England?

If you want a chance to qualify for the champions league, then you need the financial means. You need to have a bigger squad. We've now got that at Manchester City. It doesn't happen immediately - you can see that this year. We are not where we should be on the table. But I think over the next few years it must be possible to challenge the top four or five teams.

The top four in the Premier League have about 1 billion euros of debt, and the fate of of Man U's sponsor is up in the air. Nevertheless, these clubs still lead the way in the Champions League.

Is that fair? Don't you think there is perhaps a need to introduce some europe-wide regulations?

We should think a bit about whether these clubs should be allowed to dominate the Champions League. Especially when other clubs are punished in their own leagues when they have this sort of debt. But the English clubs also have to pass certain tests before each season. I don't think that the clubs will get into trouble. We saw a few years back what happened to Leeds. They had to drop down one or two divisions. I think that the big English clubs have things under control. I think they will stay financially viable over the next years.

Can you really make a comparison between the finances in the Premier League and in the Bundesliga?

The difference is that the English teams have had the financial opportunities to buy the best players from overseas. I think that is the difference. They also have very good local players, very good young players. That is also a difference. But the level of professionalism in the two leagues is very similar.

Hamann knows the Bundesliga from his time at Bayern. A specialist for long range shots, he won the championship twice in the 90s. And despite living in England, he still manages to keeps an eye on the Bundesliga.

So, you think Klinsmann can do it?

I think so. In football you never really can know what will happen. Berlin looks good. Hamburg is also up there. Hoffenheim can't be written off. It is certainly exciting. But it's good for the Bundesliga when Bayern doesn't win each year by 10 or 15 points.

What are the chances of Bayern winning the Champions League?

When you are in the last 8 of the Champions League then every team has a chance to win. With Ribery, Lucio, Schweinsteiger, Klose and Toni, Bayern have many players that lots of other clubs would like to have. I think that they have match winners in their team who can turn big games. For that reason I wouldn't be surprised if Bayern make the semi-final or even the final.

It sounds like you are still a bit of a Bayern fan. I thought you were a Hamburg fan?

I was a Hamburg fan when I was younger, yes. But I spent seven or eight years at Bayern - five years with the first team - so, of course, you end up following the team you played for a little more closely.

After that came his time with the German national team. In 2000 he scored the last goal in the old Wembley Stadium - against England. A bridge at the new stadium was almost named after him.

Perhaps you can tell us what happened back then? Did you hear anything about it?

They were looking for names. A German realised that you could vote online and he told his friends about it. Here, people weren't that interested - there were a hundred different Englishmen they could have voted for. All the Germans who heard about it then voted for me, which meant I ended up having the most votes. But the love between England and Germany didn't go that far. In the end, the bridge was then named after a police horse. Apparently, there were riots between two sets of supporters in an FA Cup final and the horse went into the middle and separated the crowds.

Well, moving on. Will you stay here in England? What are your plans at the end of your career?

I have to wait. I really want to play one or two more years. I am going to start a coaching course in summer, in England. Then we'll see. But it's quite possible that I stay on in England - even when my career is over.

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