NTERVIEW WITH PIRMIN SCHWEGLER IN AUSTRALIA: KANGAROOS, BRUSH FIRE, POISON SPIDERS AND "GREAT PEOPLE"
Pirmin Schwegler in the Hannover 96 jersey was a guarantee of great commitment in every game for two years before the popular midfielder ventured into a distance adventure after the end of the past season. Since then he has appeared for the Western Sydney Wanderers in the Australian A-League. In the exclusive interview with hannover96.de , he gives great insights into his first six months down under, talks about encounters with kangaroos and the ongoing bushfire - and reveals why Baccus is his new "Baka".
Right now you can see and read a lot in Australia in Germany from Australia in the media - unfortunately nothing particularly nice, because bad bush fires are raging here. How do you get that in Sydney?
Pirmin Schwegler (32): Of course, this is also a big topic here, although you don't really notice that much in the city itself. One day or the other you could smell the fire a bit, it's not many kilometers away. It is already hard for the Australians - especially for the animals and of course for the population in the affected areas. But here in the city you don't get that up close every day.
Pirmin Schwegler joined the Western Sydney Wanderers in summer.
What did you expect when you moved to Sydney and what has happened now?
Pirmin: I honestly have to admit that I didn't think too much about expectations because I deliberately wanted to deal with everything. Of course I had heard a lot about Australia - you have your pictures in your head. And in fact a lot is really nice here. We are totally impressed: by nature, by the animals - and the people are very open, very helpful.
How does that express itself?
Pirmin: It often happens that someone speaks to you if you look around awkwardly. Then you are asked if everything is okay, if you need help. You don't really know that from Germany. We had a lot of great new experiences in the first six months. There is also a lot new in sports.
Pirmin: The trips are of course very different, with completely different distances. I've collected many miles in the past few weeks (laughs). We flew to Oakland in New Zealand for the away game and came back and there was a two hour time difference in one direction. A few days later we had to go to Perth, which was three hours the other way. At that point I noticed that the other exertions are difficult, but on every trip you get to know a lot and have many new experiences.
And that's what it's all about, isn't it?
Pirmin: Yes, absolutely. Also. But of course also about sports.
What is your first conclusion?
Pirmin: You also have your experience there - positive and negative. Compared to Germany, everything is of course on a smaller scale, but good football is also played here and very physical. You have to be on top of things. I personally enjoy it a lot. I can give the young players a lot here - they always ask what football is like in Europe. That is the big goal for them: Europe.
You play the double six with a 21 year old Australian named Keanu Baccus. Did you take him under your wing a bit?
Pirmin: Yes, Baccus is the successor to "Baka" (laughs). But seriously: I have already taken care of him a little, explained a little to him - for example how I solve certain situations in the game. He looks at some things from me. And he said to me that it's great that I'm here. Then I told him that he could come to me at any time if he had any questions. He has now also received the first offer from Europe - which is of course really nice to see. Let's see how far the boy can make it!
What about the training intensity? You can hear that it is overall a bit lower than you might know from the Bundesliga.
Pirmin: Yes, lower on the pitch, but training on the beach is a bit more (grins). No, it is true: it is a different intensity, but it is also being worked hard on. The sizes are less. But as I said: We have had a lot of travel stress the last few weeks. I was also glad that the training turned out to be a bit narrower. We are used to something else in Germany, but a lot is also done there, even compared to countries like Spain or Italy. But one thing has to be said.
Pirmin: The preparation was very intensive, so there was a lot of emphasis on the physical. This can be compared to Germany - only the preparation there does not take quite as long. It lasted three months. We started in July and the season started in October. There are a few differences, but in the end I found what drew me here - and maybe lasts a year longer.
Is that conceivable?
Pirmin: Yes. The idea was to stay a year and then keep looking. The club has already signaled that it should continue, but I don't want to break the decision over my knee. I can actually imagine it, but let's see.
It's going really well in terms of sport - especially at the beginning of the season, then there was a small dry spell and now you have been able to score more often.
Pirmin: It's a little up and down. The games are always very close, the league is totally balanced. Sydney FC, the other club from the city, is the measure of all things. After that it is extremely narrow from second to eleven and you can hardly tell how it will end in any game. Everyone felt the chance to get into the playoffs. This also applies to us, there are still all possibilities.
Is that the goal of the season?
Pirmin: Yes, yes. The first six teams qualify, we are currently seventh. A total of eleven clubs play in the league. 26 match days will be played. It's a little weird here in Australia. Everything is a little different: we play twice against some teams, three times against others. I couldn't quite imagine that in Germany.
Speaking of Germany: you have teammates who are well known here. Nicolai Müller, who also played 96 in the last second half of the season, plus Alex Meier, and your trainer is Markus Babbel. Is it important to you to have a German connection? Or would that have been possible without you in the end?
Pirmin: It would definitely have been possible without it, but it helps in one situation or another. But sometimes I like to be with Australians because I want to soak up everything here and enjoy the time on the one hand, but also want to use it. I don't have to improve my German now - that is still not perfect after all these years, but then I would rather improve my English (grins). It's nice that the boys are here, of course, but I also want to take all the culture and language here with me.
And has your English improved significantly? For example, do you sometimes dream in English?
Pirmin: Yes, indeed! But that was relatively early, after a few weeks. That is probably the sign that you have arrived. My English has mainly improved through everyday life. I also take English lessons, so of course you also learn special details, but in everyday life you learn the most and take a lot with you. That's why it's important to me to speak a lot of English and not so much German.
Sydney is on the Pacific. How often does it go to the beach? Or is "Beach Day" every day?
Pirmin: No, not every day (laughs). But sometimes it's nice and now that we've been traveling a lot for the past few weeks, that's good for us. That's the nice thing about Sydney: You really have all the options here. In a few minutes you are on the beach, and the city simply has a lot to offer. You can do everything: you have culture, good restaurants, great shopping. But you are also close to nature, and then you also have a lot of good people. A great mix. I wouldn't have thought that.
Have you ever been to the famous Sydney Opera House?
Pirmin: Yes. I not only looked at it, but was really in it. I think that's a big thing when you've been here in Sydney. In any case, you have to see them. I was even more impressed by the Harbor Bridge, which is an amazing construct.
Then we come to the next stereotype of Australia: Have you already got to know koalas and kangaroos better?
Pirmin: Yes. So, you can already hear that here. Sure, you know all the animals from the zoo, but when you see them in the wild, it is something completely different. We have seen kangaroos quite often that when we ate somewhere they did a show in front of us.
How close to the city do the animals live?
Pirmin: You have to drive out for two hours. So you don't see a wild kangaroo in the city. But yes, we have had many encounters - including spiders and snakes. They also belong to Australia. You can't always avoid them.
That sounds dangerous ...
Pirmin: Yes. We came from Queensland. It's around Brisbane in the east. Then we came back and the team supervisor then put the box down and everyone wanted to take shoes out and in the end there was a very small redback. The Australians also quickly refrained from doing so.
Do you still have a little time to keep an eye out for Hanover with all your sporting ambition on the one hand and your personal experiences on the other? Do you follow what our team does in the second division?
Pirmin: Definitely. Always delayed. It's a ten hour time difference, so I can't really see anything live. Then it is already 11.30 a.m. or in the middle of the night. But as soon as I'm awake in the morning, I look at my cell phone and always hope that there was a victory. Unfortunately it was a little up and down, but hope dies last.
Pirmin Schwegler wore the shirt of our Reds from 2017 to 2019.
What do you think, what's still going on for Hannover 96 this season?
Pirmin: It's hard to say, I'm a bit far away from that. But as I said: I hope that somehow it might still be enough for third place, even if it will be very difficult.
Are you still in contact with someone on the team?
Pirmin: Yes, from time to time. "Baka" writes me now and then and asks how Baccus is doing (laughs). No, of course we exchange a little bit here and there. I haven't heard from "Bruno" Esser for a while now, but every now and then you write. Those were nice years at 96, so you keep in touch.
Thank you for the interview and all the best for you, Pirmin!