The long-time Austrian U21 team boss Werner Gregoritsch looked after almost all current national players. In an interview with SPOX and goal he reports on the stubborn Martin Hinteregger, special case Sasa Kalajdzic, the German mentality of the Salzburg Academy graduates and his funny son.
Michael Gregoritsch made his debut at the age of 15 under his father for SV Kapfenberg, later he also worked with him on the U21 national team. Werner Gregoritsch talks about the difficult father-son / coach-player relationship, a training clat and the sensitive side of his son.
Mr. Gregoritsch, you have been the Austrian U21 team boss for over nine years. Which player were you most certain to make the big break?
Werner Gregoritsch: Christoph Baumgartner. With his mix of football talent, mentality and character, it was completely clear that he would go his way. But I didn’t think that he would be able to do it so quickly. Its development is incredible. I was just as sure about a few others as I was about him, especially Martin Hinteregger, Marcel Sabitzer, Konrad Laimer and Xaver Schlager.
Hinteregger has now earned a reputation as a cult kicker at Eintracht Frankfurt, which may also be angry at times. How did you experience him back then?
Can you remember your first conversation with him?
Gregoritsch: Yes, very well. I knew his reputation and told him straight away: “I don’t want to worry about you or have any stress. Do you want to play for the U21s or not?” He replied: “Yes, I want that.” And that’s exactly what he showed. He was an absolute leader with us, always stayed cool and rarely got emotional. His teammates admired him and looked up to him.
Has he never gone out of himself?
Gregoritsch: I only really experienced him once emotionally – in a positive way. When his birthday fell on a course, I made him captain on the very day, which was not at all predictable. Then the tears came to him for sheer joy. He only becomes negative emotional if the attitudes of other players do not fit or if you are dishonest with him.
Interview with Martin Hinteregger: “I had teammates who puked before games”
What else has changed with the advent of the academies?
Gregoritsch: The footballers have become much more multi-sport. Unlike today, for example, hardly anyone could do gymnastics in the past. I still remember that at the beginning of my coaching career everyone was amazed when I did a somersault from a trampoline over a box. Today every second person celebrated their goals with a somersault.
Gregoritsch: Yes, with Sasa I noticed a particular carefree and stress resistance. This has set him apart from many academy players. Very few follow a path like Sasa these days.
Interview with Sasa Kalajdzic: “I often helped out on the farm myself”
Do you think it’s a good thing that almost only academy players make the breakthrough?