Sepp Maier on Neuer discussion: “It comes at the absolute worst time”

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Written By Maya Cantina

AZ: Mr. Maier, after his mistake in the last European Championship test in the 2-1 win against Greece, he became national goalkeeper Manuel Neuer sharply criticized by experts, media and fans. DFB sports director Rudi Völler vehemently defended the 38-year-old. A few days before the European Championship opening match against Scotland on Friday, a goalkeeping discussion makes the headlines. Should Neuer make way for Marc-André ter Stegen?
SEPP MAIER: In my opinion, this is absolutely not timely. Manuel is number one, he belongs in goal. You shouldn’t suddenly question your class. Mistakes were and will always be made, which is completely normal after such a long injury break. He has so much quality and experience. You can’t demonize a goalkeeper like Manuel, who has been world-class for almost 20 years.

They know Manuel well, are friends and only met in February for a long interview and video shoot FC Bayern Met. To what extent do mistakes erode Neuer’s self-confidence?
He stays relaxed and cool and doesn’t go crazy. I’m sure: he will play a good, no: a very good tournament. He just shouldn’t let himself get confused.

Celebrating his 80th birthday in February: Bayern legend Sepp Maier.
Celebrating his 80th birthday in February: Bayern legend Sepp Maier.
© IMAGO/Frank Hoermann
Celebrating his 80th birthday in February: Bayern legend Sepp Maier.

by IMAGO/Frank Hoermann


Sepp Maier: ‘Manuel knows he made mistakes’

Maybe from former goalkeepers? Uli Stein writes in a column for the “kicker”: “He no longer justifies it in terms of sport. They should have left him at home with pain in the heart, but with reason – after this shaky preparation!”
Oh, stop Uli Stein! Franz (team boss Franz Beckenbauer, editor) sent him home during the 1986 World Cup because he was substitute goalkeeper behind Toni Schumacher. I really like Uli, we have a good relationship, but I have a different opinion. Fortunately, national coach Nagelsmann is not influenced and sticks with Manuel. What really bothers me are the polls and votes that are happening everywhere these days. Who is the better goalkeeper: Neuer or ter Stegen?

Why? That’s legit.
Yes Yes. But who does it help if a majority speaks out in favor of Ter Stegen? Will the fans in the stadium start whistling if Manuel makes a mistake at the European Championship because they want to be part of the majority and that is ‘in’ at the moment? Manuel himself knows that he has made mistakes. You need to support him better by giving him confidence and encouragement. It’s about the German national team at a European Championship at home.

Maier: ‘As a goalkeeper you are the last, weakest link in the chain’

But Neuer not only made a mistake last Friday, he also made a mistake in Bayern’s shirt Real Madrid in the second leg of the semi-final Champions League and on the last matchday in the 2:4 in Hoffenheim.
That’s right, but FC Bayern didn’t play very well as a team last season and as a goalkeeper you are the last, weakest link in the chain. Then they always say: it’s the goalkeeper’s fault. I know that all too well from my time. When a team, especially the defense, is not stable, mistakes happen.

How do you assess the current performance of the national team before the European Championship? After the 0-0 draw against Ukraine, the initially tough but ultimately victorious match against non-European Championship participant Greece followed.
Even in my day, we usually played together in the last friendlies before a tournament. There’s never been a really good game there. No one is fully committed, you don’t want to hurt yourself. If you think, “I hope nothing happens to me,” you’re not 100 percent focused. It really starts on Friday, then it has to go smoothly, with 120 percent effort!

Sepp Maier about the DFB chances: home advantage “inspires you as a player”

With an opening win against Scotland?
In each case! Former national coach Helmut Schön would have described a team like the Scots as “walk-ins” (laughs). No seriously: nowadays there are no easy opponents like in our time. These teams can all defend well and apply pressure, the Scots qualified confidently. Just like the Austrians and Swiss, many Scottish players also play in the major leagues of the world, for example in England. So be careful!

How far will the DFB national team get?
They really messed up the last three tournaments, but this time they have home advantage. Playing in your own country, like we did at the 1974 World Cup, inspires you as a player. With the support of the fans, and hopefully they will really support us, a lot has already been achieved. That would be the perfect basis, but they have to score the goals themselves.

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