Christoph Kramer is set to make his comeback from a thigh injury against Hertha Berlin this weekend. The 26-year-old spoke to DW about why he loves Borussia Mönchengladbach and why money doesn't buy happiness.
DW: Christoph Kramer, Bayern Leverkusen loaned you out first to Bochum, then to Borussia Mönchengladbach, before actually selling you to Gladbach. How would you describe your career path so far?
Christoph Kramer: I've made steady but not particularly rapid progress. In 2014 there was a sudden jump, but apart from that I have always tried to develop steadily. I started in the fourth tier, and then got to the second division, and for the past five seasons I have been in the Bundesliga. So I have gone about building my career systematically and I am glad that it has worked out so well.
How do you make a decision about joining a new club. What are the key criteria for you?
I listen to my gut. I am from the west (of Germany) and that's where I tend to look. A few years ago, for example, I had plenty of offers from second division clubs, but I chose Bochum. It's a great club, it's just around the corner, and even back then I had a lot of friends in Bochum. So the decision wasn't difficult. In Leverkusen and now at Borussia, things just clicked, these too were the right decisions. I have made a few moves, but always within a radius of a few hundred kilometers.
So you would rule out a transfer abroad?
No, I wouldn't rule it out, but at the moment, I am so happy at Borussia that I could see myself staying here forever. I have everything I need here and I feel appreciated by the club. I think the Bundesliga is great, a move abroad isn't as appealing to me as it is to some others.
A lot of football players move for a big payday…
It's not that I don't care about money. I earn really well here at Borussia and I am very happy. Somebody wrote in an article somewhere that when you reach a certain amount; you can't buy any more happiness. I think it would be stupid to allow oneself to be lured away by money. If somebody working at a bank changes jobs because he can double his salary, that's understandable. However, in football, if you have the choice of earning a few more euros or being somewhere where you are happy, I would always choose happiness and quality of life.
Christoph Kramer made his debut with with the national team in 2014 and was part of Germany's World Cup-winning squad
How has football changed from your perspective in recent years?
That is very simple to explain. There is way more money in it. And anywhere there is a lot of money, a lot of things change, a lot of things are tried out. There is more technology and the players are even more the focus of attention than before. In the end this is all driven by an incredible interest in football this has brought an unbelievable amount of money into play.
Let's talk about how quickly things can change in this business. Today you may be a star, but you could be completely forgotten by tomorrow. How do you deal with that?
I know that on the day I stop playing football I will no longer be a footballer. And that will be a very sad moment. I am preparing myself for when nobody is interested in what I do anymore. I think it is what it is all about , getting to grips with the rest of your life. It is simply a really fast-paced business with many good but also some bad things that go with it. The nice parts are often very emotional. There are good times, but also bad ones. You have to prepare yourself for when it is over and a new chapter begins. Maybe that's when you really grow up, as Francesco Totti once said.
Let's circle back to the current situation at Borussia Mönchengladbach. How would you characterize the current season?
I am satisfied. I feel that you can allow yourself a match like our home game against Frankfurt (a 1-0 loss). You can allow yourself a game like that once in a half season, but unfortunately we had two of them; the one against Frankfurt and the match against Mainz (a 1-1 draw). Had we won both of those games, things would be looking really good for us, but we failed to so. I am satisfied despite this. We have 18 points and are looking to improve. But generally speaking, I find it hard to analyze things on a week-to-week basis. If we lose this weekend we'll be average. If we win, we could find ourselves among the Champions League places. It really is about focusing on the next game. We have to concentrate on earning as many points as we can. Then we can look at the standings at the end of the season.
Christoph Kramer, 26 came up through Bayer Leverkusen's academy system. From 2011 to 2013 he spent two seasons on loan to second division side Bochum and then two more years at Borussia Mönchengladbach. He spent 2015-16 at his home club, Leverkusen, before making a permanent move to Mönchengladbach, where his contract runs until June 2021. His biggest accomplishment thus far was in 2014 when he was part of Germany's World Cup-winning team.
The interview was conducted by Thomas Klein.