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Vasquez: Klinsmann Wants the Player to Develop as a Person

Born in Mexico and a US citizen, Martin Vasquez is assistant coach at Bayern Munich under Juergen Klinsmann. DW-WORLD.DE talked to him about the new, kinder and gentler philosophy at the German soccer powerhouse.

Martin Vasquez

Vasquez said he works long days

DW-WORLD.DE: Mr. Vasquez, how tough of a job is it being Juergen Klinsmann's right-hand man?

Martin Vasquez: My days are really long, longer than those of the players. During pre-season preparations, I worked 10 to 12 hours in a row drawing up short and medium-term plans for the season. That's Juergen Klinsmann's work mentality. One of his strengths is the discipline with which he plans for the team's well-being.

Planning and discipline are typically German traits.

Yes, that's how I know Germans, and they're famous for it in the US and Latin America. In the Latin American culture I come from, things are much more relaxed. Orderliness and planning only happen when it's absolutely necessary. But Germans always display these traits.

Please draw a balance of your first three months at Bayern Munich.

It's very positive. I think we're on the right track. When we started, we knew how full our players' calendars were. The Europeans were playing the Euro, and other were going to the Olympics. We did our planning with this schedule in mind. The aim was to get the whole squad playing at the top level by the fourth or fifth round of the Bundesliga. So everything's going according to plan.

Juergen Klinsmann, left, talks to his assistant coach Martin Vasquez

Klinsmann and Vasquez, right, are both former players

You can get the impression that Juergen Klinsmann, with his philosophizing about soccer, is something of a German soccer messiah. That would make his assistants apostles.

We're not apostles, nor do we think we are. Juergen Klinsmann has a vision. He wants to allow the soccer player to develop as a person. The entire coaching staff shares and supports this vision. But we're not forerunners in this regard. There are coaches in various countries, albeit not many in number, who work this way. The point is to prepare the players as much as possible for life after soccer, to open up new horizons for them.

Where does this idea come from?

This philosophy comes from Juergen Klinsmann, who never had such opportunities as a player and who knows that many professional soccer players are left impoverished when their playing days are over. His wish is to see the players with whom he works in a positive situation with a fulfilling life in 10 or 15 years.

How much of Martin Vasquez is there in this philosophy?

As players, coaches and relatively simple people, we've had similar experiences. We've been through the same things as thousands of soccer players. We talked about it a lot. And it became clear to us how many players there are who weren't superstars, didn't have the chance to get an education and weren't prepared for the search for options and alternatives outside the stadium. The time is ripe for Juergen Klinsmann's vision. It's something long-term, not just for the next couple of months.

And Bayern Munich stands behind this vision?

Munich player Jose Ernesto Sosa, right, and German national soccer player Clemens Fritz

Thus far this season, the new Bayern philosophy has produced two wins and two draws

The classic four pillars of soccer are: ball skills, tactics, physical condition and mental disposition. We've introduced a fifth one: human development so that the soccer player is constantly improving. The project of Bayern Munich is to offer the players this fifth pillar.

But the success of a club is measured in wins and losses.

It's clear to all of us that our work will be primarily judged on good results. But a club infrastructure doesn't win games. We haven't neglected any of the other pillars. But of course, the results have to be there if we're to have a chance of continuing our project and our philosophy.

Is the fifth pillar perhaps too much in the foreground?

No. For us, it's just one element of the whole. I think that, from the outside, it appears more central than it actually is. For us, the most important thing is soccer. That's where our priorities lie, and we keep it in view. It's quite simple. Bayern Munich is a club that offers more and is more attractive to players.

What did you talk about with Klinsmann, before the project with Bayern Munich came up? What do you think motivated him to choose you as his partner?

We had a lot of discussions about his philosophy of the players' personal development. I believed in his vision from the very start because I went through the same experiences. We have a lot in common. We want the best for the players and club without personal ego-trips. At some point two people with the same idea crossed paths, namely that a soccer player is more than just an athlete who kicks a ball. He's a human being. For us, it's truly a matter of the heart. If two people believe in the same idea and the chemistry is there between them, then it's logical for them to work together.

And now you both work for Bayern Munich. That's a great career platform.

I don't think in those terms. Of course, because of its prominence in the world of soccer, Bayern Munich is a kind of platform, but it's not my way to see the situation in that light.

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