Interview with Edson Braafheid: “For most of them, I was Louis van Gaal’s player, not Bayern’s”

It is rare for FC Bayern fans to whistle their own player. Edson Braafheid met this fate. The Dutchman, who was signed on by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2009, had to take a lot of criticism from the German record champions, his transfer went down as one of the biggest misunderstandings in the history of the club.

The interview was published for the first time on July 29, 2020, today Edson Braafheid will be 38 years old.

In an interview with SPOX and goal Braafheid, who is now active in Texas, looks back critically on his difficult time in Munich. He talks about too much self-confidence, the lecture of the “general”, frustrating training sessions with Luca Toni and just ten seconds of funny jokes from Franck Ribery.

The 37-year-old also reports on the biggest low point in his career – at TSG Hoffenheim and the legendary “Training Group 2”. A conversation with ex-TSG coach Markus Babbel remains in his memory to this day.

Mr Braafheid, you came to FC Bayern from Twente Enschede in 2009 at the request of Louis van Gaal for two million euros. Her move to Munich is said to have been quite strange, according to stories.

Braafheid: “I overestimated myself at FC Bayern”

What did he say to you?

Braafheid: That I should give Ajax a rejection and come to Munich immediately. I have a contract ready for signature.

They listened to him.

Braafheid: Who wouldn’t have that? One of the best coaches in the world really wants you to join one of the best clubs in the world. I thought to myself: what can go wrong there?

You were smarter afterwards. You never got beyond the role of reservist at FC Bayern.

Why didn’t it go right?

Braafheid: I had a lot of confidence when I came to Munich. After a few years I know: too much. I was blinded by it. I previously played for Twente, a club from midfield in the Eredivisie, and I was convinced that I would make it to FC Bayern regular straight away. I don’t want to say that I wasn’t ready for it in terms of football. Mentally I definitely wasn’t. At a club like FC Bayern there is a lot of pressure. I couldn’t handle it, I overestimated myself.

Braafheid: I was disappointed. I didn’t understand the coach and thought to myself, “He really wanted me, why the hell doesn’t he trust me?” At the time, I wasn’t the only one who was weak. I had the feeling that it was easy for him to take me out, because I was “his” player and not a seasoned player who might have led to discussions with Uli Hoeneß or Karl-Heinz Rummenigge . Let’s be honest: none of the people in charge except van Gaal had ever heard of me before my arrival. So I was under special observation. I had to deliver. And I didn’t. So I was quickly left out. That’s the harsh reality when you play for a top club.

It is said that FC Bayern stands out from other top clubs because it is very family-run.

Braafheid: We live in a performance society in which everyone is interchangeable. Especially at this level and with these demands, nobody has time for sentimentality, not even at FC Bayern. Besides van Gaal, I had a few other compatriots on the team who gave me this familiar feeling just because of the language. Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben, for example, two great guys. But they too followed the competition on the pitch and felt the pressure when things weren’t going so well. Of course everything is beautiful and great and wonderful when you are successful. Then you are a family, a committed bunch. But we had problems back then and that’s why I got into trouble quickly. I got nervous about my role as a substitute because the World Cup was going to take place after the season and I really wanted to secure my place in the national team.

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