“When I joined the first team, Lokomotive Leipzig at the time, the month before I joined them they’d been in the European final against Ajax and lost 1-0. Marco van Basten scored so it was a top European side at the time, and I came in as an 18-year-old and started pre-season fully motivated, completely excited and nervous.
And then the assistant coach made a joke – not a very nice one – in front of the whole players, and that was tough to take. I met him a few years later and I asked him why he did that. He said: “I only did that to players who I believed in a lot, because either you come through this and be a very good player or you fell apart.”
I’m not saying that is the right way to do it, but it probably helped me in my career because I’ve always been out to prove a point. And, actually, to prove a point to him. Obviously for me going forward, that probably inspired me and helped me. Now, in our DNA, I don’t think you come very far when you do that very often. Now and then I think you need to find different ways to motivate people to get the best out of people. And that is up to the skill set of every coach, to find the right medicine for each patient.
I think every player is behaving different, comes from a different background. A lot of players come from different cultures and different nations. There is a lot of things you have to take into consideration. That is a challenge, and I think in our profession there is no more big secrets in terms of how you train and how you organise teams and how you prepare teams.
I think the big secret is how you lead a group of people around you. Is it players? Is it staff? Is it the chairman? How you communicate things into those people and how you get the best out of those people.”