Thursday 16 December 2021, 08:00

Paul Kalkbrenner: Lewandowski will only get better

  • Exclusive interview with electronic music star Paul Kalkbrenner

  • Big fan of Bayern Munich and Germany

  • Sees Robert Lewandowski as #TheBest

Paul Kalkbrenner’s reputation as a football fan precedes him wherever he goes. “Whenever I play abroad, promoters often give me the country’s national team shirt with a No.10 on the back,” said the world-famous electronic music producer.

The German star began writing music in the early 1990s and has gone on to become a giant of the international techno scene. Yet though he is in huge demand with clubs and festivals all over the world, it has not stopped him from following the sport he loves with a passion.

The diehard Bayern Munich and Die Mannschaft fan spoke to about his favourites for The Best FIFA Football Awards. He also recalled his favourite World Cup memories and told us why Erling Haaland will one day be the best, and why he thinks Zinedine Zidane is the greatest player of all time. What type of football fan are you? Paul Kalkbrenner: I’m a true fan. My team is Bayern Munich and I love the Champions League. We’ve won it six times and I can’t wait for March, when things really start to get serious.

How do you cope with being on stage when there’s a big game on? I mainly play after midnight at weekends, so it doesn’t clash with matches. My bookers know not to line up something when there’s a big game on. I remember EURO 2016, when Germany played Italy in the quarter-finals. Don’t forget that Germany had never beaten Italy at either the EUROs or the World Cup. The match went to extra time and then penalties and I was going on stage at 11pm at a major festival. The shootout still hadn’t finished but Thomas Muller and Bastian Schweinsteiger had both missed. It was horrible. I was watching it on a little monitor behind the stage and I was waiting for it to finish before I went on. I was a few minutes late but it was worth it (laughs).

How did you feel when Robert Lewandowski was named The Best FIFA Men’s Player last year? It was totally deserved. He’s a true professional and he’s still only 32, an age at which Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had already peaked. I think Lewandowski’s going to get even better. I can see him going up a notch in the next two or three years and scoring even more goals.

Is he your favourite again this year? Yes, of course. In Germany we all thought that Gerd Muller’s record of 40 goals in a season would never be broken, and Lewandowski went and did it. And he did it in true Bayern style as well, scoring in the 90th minute (laughs).

Which other players do you like? I fall in love with players when they do even the slightest heroic thing for Bayern. I’m such a fan of the club, that when a player retires or leaves for another club I don’t care about them anymore.

Which player would you love to see playing for Bayern? I’ve never been jealous of Dortmund and the players they have, even when they were beating us to trophies, but I’d love to see Erling Haaland join us. I don’t think we can afford him, though. I think Haaland will be the best player in the world one day. He’s a beast in front of goal and he also works hard for the team and gives everything for them out on the pitch. That’s what sets him apart from all the players I’ve seen in the last few years, including [Kylian] Mbappe, Ronaldo and Messi.

Who do you think is the greatest player of all time? That’s a really tough question, but if you’re talking about style, I’d have to say Zinedine Zidane. His performance against Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2006 World Cup was a work of art. He never showboated like Ronaldo sometimes does. Everything he did elevated the game. Obviously, people say that Pele or [Diego] Maradona were the best or even Michel Platini, but I loved Zidane’s style. And what he’s achieved as a coach is pretty amazing too, with three consecutive Champions League titles for starters, something that other far more celebrated coaches like Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho have never achieved.

Who’s your favourite to win The Best FIFA Men’s Coach? Thomas Tuchel, of course. What he’s done with Chelsea, with so many young players in the squad, is pretty incredible.

And who should win The Best FIFA Men’s Goalkeeper? Manuel Neuer will always be the best goalkeeper in the world, for as long as he plays. I’d even go as far as to say he’s the best of all time. He’s the smartest there is when it comes to one-on-one situations. I remember when Gonzalo Higuain was clean through on goal against him in the 2014 World Cup Final. He just had Neuer to beat and he got so nervous because it was him that he missed the goal completely. He’s so good at what he does and he’s got such presence that he makes strikers shoot wide.

What’s your favourite World Cup of all? My first: Mexico 1986. I was fascinated by all the teams and all the flags. I think any team would have won that year if they’d had Maradona playing for them. I was born in East Germany so it was impossible for us to support West Germany. I was cheering for Argentina in the Final. It was a slightly different matter four years later, even though Germany still hadn’t reunified, but it was incredible to see the same teams in the Final, albeit with a different outcome. That was definitely my favourite period. I started to see the world in a different way after that because I was travelling, but when I was a little boy, football taught me a lot about the world. I read big football books and I knew all the stats of all the teams by heart. My father’s got back into football in a big way and I almost can’t wait to get older and have the time to follow it a lot more.

What are your thoughts about the next FIFA World Cup™, which kicks off in just under a year’s time? I have a good feeling about Germany, with Hans-Dieter Flick and everything he’s achieved with Bayern and the role he played with Joachim Low when we were winning things. We’ll have to wait and see if Italy and Portugal qualify, but I can see Germany, France or England going all the way, and the South American teams too.

 Paul Kalkbrenner on stage