He was one of the most talented and successful players in the history of the game. Along with 150 caps, a German record, Lothar Matthaus won almost everything there was to win during his 21-year career. His haul included the 1990 FIFA World Cup™, the European Cup ten years earlier and a grand total of seven domestic league titles with Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, as well as two national and two UEFA Cups. Matthaus also scooped a number of individual awards, most notably when he was named World Soccer Player of the Year in 1990 and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1991.
Now 46, Matthaus hung up his boots seven years ago and turned
his attentions to coaching. After steering Partizan Belgrade to the
Serbian league title in 2003, he also took them into the UEFA
Champions League. Matthaus also made his home country sit up and
pay attention when the Hungarian national team which he was
coaching recorded a 2-0 win over Germany. He is currently to be
seen on German pay TV channel Premiere as one of its resident panel
In an exclusive interview with FIFA.com, Matthaus spoke of his plans for 2008, the prospects of the Mannschaft at the UEFA EURO 2008 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
FIFA.com: People tend to make resolutions at this time of
the year so what have you decided for 2008?
Lothar Matthaus: Everyone has plans and hopes, and health is obviously a top priority. In career terms I would love to be involved in coaching on a more long-term basis. For that though, you need perspectives and you need to be professional and hard-working. I have to be on the same page as the people in the boardroom and obviously the overall package has to be right.
You have coaching experience at domestic and international
level. Where do you see the main differences between the
As coach of a national team, you don't have the same influence over players as you do when you're manager of a club, where you can train in much more specific ways. The day-to-day work is also a lot more intensive at a club. When you manage a national team, you need to be more of a psychologist since you don't have much time: only two or three days with the team, to have an influence on the various individuals.
You were incredibly successful as a player. What would Lothar Matthaus still like to achieve at the age of 46?
I very much want to carry on coaching and win trophies. What is more important for me though is player development. It improves the standard of the team as a whole and increases their chances of winning games - and trophies.
If we take a look back at your almost unrivalled career as a player and a coach, what for you was the absolute highlight and why?
My first reaction is obviously winning the World Cup in Italy in 1990, but qualifying for the UEFA Champions League with Partizan Belgrade was emotionally on an even higher level. No-one expected us to make it through, but we pulled off an absolute miracle in Newcastle [Belgrade lost the first leg 1-0 at home before winning the away leg 1-0 and 4-3 on penalties] and brought self-belief back to an entire country that was on its knees. It was on a similar level to Germany winning the World Cup in 1954.
Your all-action style of play made you on of the best
central midfielders in the world. Who do you see as the best
playmakers nowadays? Who can go on to become the best in the
Football has changed beyond all recognition over recent decades. You don't get real playmakers of the likes of Zinedine Zidane, Zico, Michel Platini and in particular Diego Maradona any more. Diego at Werder Bremen is someone in that mould; he's a goal threat and he can dictate the rhythm of play. Bastian Schweinsteiger might grow into the role at some point if he can get back to his old form. With Toni Kroos we'll have to wait to see how he develops as he's only 17.
How has the role of playmaker changed?
Formations are different now so you don't get an old-fashioned No10 or attacking midfielder any more. It's all down to the formations at the various clubs. Maradona and Platini were perfect playmakers. They had personality, technical ability, inspired their team-mates and were a threat in front of goal to boot.
Which is your favourite formation?
I'm a fan of skilful attacking football like Arsenal and Barcelona play. Bayern Munich were also playing in that style at the start of the season. I'm all for attack but you mustn't forget your defensive duties either.
UEFA EURO 2008 inAustriaandSwitzerlandwill soon be upon us. How do you think Joachim Low's
team will fare and who do you see as the favourites for the
This Euro is a tough one to predict. The teams taking part are all of similar strength and made up of players who star in Europe's top leagues. Physical strength and psychology will come to the fore at this tournament.
As far as Germany are concerned, you can't rank them among the favourites based on recent results. They only finished second in their group behind the Czechs and they finished behind two European teams at the World Cup on home soil. If you look at the FIFA World Footballer Gala as well, there were only two German players in the top 50.
If you look at the statistics then, they are definitely not among the favourites. Having said that, under Low the team has developed very well, and they always approach big tournaments with confidence. I think they are one of a wider group of teams who can be considered among the favourites along with Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. If you look at the various squads though, France and Italy have to be the real favourites.
Is the current German team as strong as the FIFA World
Cup-winning squad of 1990?
Football was different back then and it wouldn't be fair on any of the players from that era or from today to compare them. Our current players are as good as the ones from that team.
In two-and-a-half years, the first ever FIFA World Cup on African soil will take
place. What does a tournament like this mean to a country
The country and the continent as a whole can be proud that they are organising the World Cup. It is an opportunity for everyone who has never had much luck in life to see at first hand just what an effect football can have. South Africa and indeed all of Africa will gain from this tournament, both in social and economic terms. We ourselves saw in 2006 the effect a World Cup can have. There ought to be a statue erected of Franz Beckenbauer to thank him for bringing the World Cup to Germany.
How do you expect the tournament to pan out? And are you
still dreaming of being on the sidelines coaching one of the
It is always an achievement for a coach to be at the helm of a team at the World Cup. I've experienced the World Cup as a player and I'd obviously love to take a country to South Africa as a coach, to be able to pass on my World Cup experience. A challenge like that holds no fears for me.