Germany’s national goalkeeper Manuel Neuer logs more than 100 flights each year with FC Bayern Munich. He talked to Move about his travel game and his love of nature.
After more than 20 years of traveling as goalkeeper, is there a place you most like to visit and play?
I had one of my best moments at the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. To win our fourth star with the national team against Argentina in front of almost 90,000 spectators at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil – that’s an unforgettable memory linked to the gigantic stadium.
How often do you fly per year?
With all national and international flights there are certainly more than 100 a year.
Do you have problems with jetlag?
FC Bayern Munich mainly plays in Europe where we have a maximum time difference of one hour. It doesn’t matter to us whether we are awake one hour longer in the evening or get up earlier in the morning. Non-European flights are different. A game with the national team in Astana (Kazakhstan) was scheduled for 8.45 p m. German time. When we came into the locker room after the first half, the clock suddenly showed 0.45 a.m.! We had definitely not played for four hours . At first we were confused, but even in such situations we stay in the German time, play and fly back as fast as possible.
For Manuel Neuer, who was born in Gelsenkirchen, football is not a profession, but a vocation. As one of the best goalkeepers of all time, he has completely redefined the job between the posts with his offensive interpretation. At FC Schalke 04, he became the youngest regular goalkeeper in the Bundesliga at the age of just 20. But he is also in the fast lane with FC Bayern Munich and the national team: he is Champions-League winner, FIFA Club World Champion, German Champion and World Champion. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram.
Do you have a particular travel ritual?
I always wear my compression pants or stockings during a flight to be fit for action the next day. They stimulate the blood circulation so I am optimally prepared for the game. I can only recommend this little accessory to anyone who is on the road frequently and for a long time.
Where do you prefer to sit on the plane?
I usually sit far back on the right. We all have two seats available. So if I want to take a look out of the window, all I have to do is slide over. Then I look out, let myself be fascinated by the passing landscapes and simply enjoy the peace and quiet.
Do you still like to travel on vacation or do you prefer to be at home in your spare time?
The surroundings of Munich have a lot to offer. My rare free days I often spend at the Tegernsee with my wife and our little dog. We love nature, like to hike and ride racing bikes or mountain bikes. But in the last few years, we have also been happy to travel.
Where do you like to travel?
We went to Phuket, Thailand, for our last holiday. But we also explored the west coast of California and the Caribbean. There are so many countries that I would like to discover with more time after my career: Australia and New Zealand as well as Bhutan and South Africa, where I have been before.
Who would you like to talk to on a long-haul flight?
I should actually say with my wife. I have already met Angela Merkel several times. I haven’t met Barack Obama yet. I really would like to talk to him. I like his views and his commitment. And regardless of what he has achieved for politics, I would be interested in his personal views.
What’s the most challenging thing you’ve done lately in your personal life?
Last summer I crossed the Alps on my racing bike with friends. We cycled from Munich via Austria and Italy to Switzerland. During these 700 kilometres, we overcame almost 10,000 metres of altitude within four days. That was a real challenge and an important life experience for me.
What does that mean in concrete terms?
In the Alps, the weather can change quickly. In situations where things get a little more unpleasant, you get to know each other better. It was a lot of fun, but everyone knew that we depended on each other.
Where can you relax best?
On the road with my little VW California. I take my racing bike with me, ride into the mountains and make my tours. I can stop anywhere and have everything I need – from fridges to awnings. Away from the hustle and bustle, nobody expects Manuel Neuer to get out of a small camper van in the solitude of nature. And if people recognize me, they are usually happy to see me. That’s awesome.
Image: FC Bayern München