The Bundesliga Fanatic’s Matthew Karagich recently had the opportunity to interview former Bundesliga midfielder and current Adelaide United midfielder, Daniel Adlung, in mid January. Born in Fùrth, Daniel began his professional career with home time club whilst his footballing life has taken him all over Germany. After 287 Bundesliga 2 appearances with Fürth, Aachen, Cottbus and 1860 Munich, Daniel has made the switch to the A-League with Adelaide United. Daniel is a constant professional whose passion for the game is on display on and off the pitch. Special thanks go to Adelaide United for accommodating our request as well as media and communications coordinator Jordan Trombetta for being a big help throughout the process.
Matthew Karagich (MK): You spent the start of your career with your home town club in Fürth, can you tell me what it was like going through the youth system and eventually getting the call-up to the first team?
Daniel Adlung (DA): I was training with the first team when I was 16 for a couple of sessions and then the coach told me before I turned 17 that they were going to put me in the first team.
MK: You made your first appearance in 2005 against Aachen coming off the bench, how did you feel when you found out you’d be coming on?
DA: It was the first time I’d been in the matchday squad besides playing in normal friendly matches. It was one day before my birthday that I was selected for the squad to play Aachen. I’d been playing some good games in the second team and we had some injuries and I was told that I’d be in the squad against Aachen, but I didn’t expect that I was going to play. I was doing my warm-ups and the second coach was calling me and you don’t really have the time to think about anything, you go to the bench and change and go onto the pitch, that was the best as I didn’t get the information too early. Then I went on and played my first game.
MK: You would make a further 77 appearances with Fürth before joining Wolfsburg in 2008, what did you learn from your time with Felix Magath and being apart of the squad that won a Bundesliga title?
DA: I learned a lot. They have a lot of skilled players and every day in training we played with plenty of quality. With this coach, it was very hard to train with him but it was a good experience because all the other coaches after him weren’t as difficult. It was good for me to know the limits of my body and it was at another stage than what I had known before.
MK: You got to train with guys like Edin Dzeko and Christian Gentner. What did you learn from those guys in particular?
DA: Dzeko was hungry for every goal and he was angry when he got a big chance in training and didn’t score. It was a good sign that the big name players were looking forward to getting better. This is what I learned, not just from Dzeko and Gentner, but the whole team. It was this winning mentality and it was a great experience for me to adapt myself.
MK: The following season you were loaned to Aachen, when did you find out you were getting sent out on loan and how did that experience help you grow as a player?
DA: It was in the pre-season when Felix Magath left for Schalke and we got a new coach, I did the pre-season in Wolfsburg and then the new coach came to me and said he wasn’t sure how much I would have played that season. He said I should go to a club where I can play every week. We spoke about it and then I was loaned out to Aachen. It was good for me to play because if you sit almost a whole season on the bench or playing with the second team, it isn’t easy and I wanted to go back to professional football. Aachen had a good team and it’s a good club. Now they have no money, but for the time I was there it was good for me to adapt my level and go back and play.
MK: You then moved to Cottbus where you would spend three seasons there, if I may. Can I touch on your final season with the club where you missed 9 games through suspension? What did you do to fix that aspect? Because since then you have only been suspended twice in five years.
DA: I also learned a lot from these situations. Those two red cards were very dumb decisions by me. The first game I was yelling at the referee and I get a red card for that and the second one, it was the 89 minute and we were losing 3-0 in the derby. One player was talking to me and then I kicked his legs and the referee saw that and he sent me off. After that I changed my attitude towards the referee to stop yelling at them and learned that it doesn’t make sense to discuss too many things with the referees and other players. These negative experiences help players a lot and I think you have to use them and learn from them as best as you can.
MK: I brought up your stats and since that red card you mentioned, you hadn’t been sent off for six season until your dismissal against Melbourne Victory. That experience helped you a lot.
DA: Yes of course, in Melbourne the first yellow was meant for Isaias and after the VAR they gave it to me. I didn’t know that I received this yellow card because I didn’t touch the Melbourne Victory player. Then I made a tactical foul in midfield to stop a Victory counterattack and he gave me the second yellow.
MK: Even with the VAR they still got it wrong.
DA: That’s another discussion as we have had one or two games for us and two games against us. It’s all the time on the same level. Sometimes you get lucky and other times you don’t. It was bad for the team but for me it was a good time and the coach said this as I was a little bit tired from the previous two games and I could recover with the week off. It was ok from the timing of the tackle.
MK: Just going back to your time in Germany, you moved to 1860 Munich which is an interesting place to play. You got to play at the Allianz Arena and one thing that sticks out to me is in two of your four seasons, you played in the relegation play-offs. You managed to score in the relegation play-offs but what was it like being in this scenario?
DA: They are always hard. Most of the time the team from the 3rd division have been winning those games against teams in Bundesliga 2. You know if you go to the relegation you’ve had a bad season whilst the opposition from the 3rd tier has been successful and playing on a good level and then it’s very interesting. We played the first game away against Holstien Kiel and it was not a good game. It was very tactical. But the game at home, with a big crowd, I think the stadium was almost full with 60,000-65,000 people inside and after five minutes we started well.
We lost our game and weren’t playing well and they started to dominate us and everybody was yelling with us and it was really hard. And then with my goal it woke up the team again and we played 10 good minutes and luckily enough we scored the second goal in the 92nd minute. It was a great feeling and amazing with all the people crying and for them it was something special. For the players it was a really special game as we had a lot of changes with coaches and it was always like that in Munich. In my four years there we had 12-14 coaches and 3 managers, there was always trouble in this club.
MK: That’s why they are where they are in the Bayernliga.
DA: Yeah, it was normal as they are always fighting with the investor and always in the media talking about some situations. It was hard as a player because you read in the newspaper not knowing if you had a job or not. We did have some good times in Munich where we had good games and good periods but to learn for not only yourself, I think it was very important for me and I enjoyed it.
MK: Was there an option to remain in Germany whether it was Bundesliga 2 or 3. Liga?
DA: Yes, we spoke with a couple of teams but it wasn’t that interesting for me as I had played 12 years in the German second division. It was time for something new and that’s why we decided to come to Adelaide rather than stay with a smaller club in Germany. I think now if I look back on it, it was completely the right decision for my family and me. We are happy here in Adelaide and everything is new and it’s a great experience to live in another country and learn a new language.
MK: I have to say you have excellent English by the way.
DA: haha thank you.
MK: Could you name drop a couple of those sides?
DA: All the teams were interested as my manager spoke with them, teams like Kaiserslautern who are in the bottom in the second division. Not really a top team. It changed so quickly and then I was 29 and at that moment you are a little old. All the young kids start playing at 18, 19, 20 like this and all the clubs are looking for these players, most teams want young players and just a couple of experienced players. Most teams have this and they weren’t good enough to want me to stay in Germany.
MK: How have you adjusted to life in Australia?
DA: It’s like an adventure you know? In the beginning when Marco called me the first time my daughter was just two months old and I said to him I couldn’t make the move right then because she was too young and it’s our first child. We had too much doubt in this moment but then he kept ringing me all the time. After two months more we decided to go to Australia because we felt ready in that moment and my daughter was stable and everything was ok. Everything is new but after a couple of months, we really like it and enjoy the lifestyle in Australia. It’s different, Adelaide is a very easy city compared to cites likes Sydney and Melbourne which are much busier than here. It’s easy to live here and we like it.
MK: What is your relationship with manager Marco Kurz? Do you speak German frequently with him?
DA: If we are alone we speak German but not in front my teammates. It’s fair enough to speak English around the other players and football staff. Marco and I have a good relationship because he trusts me and trusts in my quality and I want to give something back for the young players. That’s what they expect from foreign players, that you you’re your experience to the young players. In my last half season in Munich, the Portuguese coach didn’t play me so I’m happy to get this feeling back that somebody needs you and the club needs you.
I think for a football player this is an important feeling and a good feeling. I help him on the pitch as I know Marco’s ideas and he can help me as well. It’s good to have him here and also the second coach Filip Tapalović who was the second coach in Munich for half a season. It’s good for me and my family that we can speak in our mother language if we have any issues. It’s good to have each other.
MK: Do you see yourself as a leader in midfield that can take control of a game that helps the team to victory.
DA: With me and Isaias in midfield we have a lot of experience and he is also been here a long time; 5 years. He helps me a lot on the pitch as well and I think last year he did not have as much support in central midfield. This season we are very good together as I know his passing move and runs and he knows my moves which helps. To lead the whole group it’s not just us, but it’s the experienced players as well as they young players who take the responsibility on the pitch. That’s very important that everyone is ready to speak, to coach, and to want to have the ball, which is good. I think we have a good mix in this team.
MK: You have played on the left, the right and now centrally. Where do you think you are bested suited at position wise?
DA: At the beginning I was playing as a winger, then at times I was playing as a second striker or a number 10 and I think this is my favourite position or a number 8. Playing as a box-to-box midfielder, between the number 6 and a striker. But I don’t really care. If the coach needs me to play on the left or the right side, I can also play there. Perhaps not like a real winger as I have a different movements and different style to play football but I can play these positions. Sometimes it is good, sometimes bad for me where I had to change. Not now but when I was younger where I would play a different position, which makes it not easy.
MK: I know you’ve been asked about it quite a lot, but can you talk us through that goal you scored against Central Coast?
DA: In that moment I don’t think about it, I just shot. In training you take this shot 1000 times and 500 times you shoot over the changing rooms. In this moment it was almost perfect and when the ball left my foot I got the feeling it was going in.
MK: What has been your favourite personal moment in your career?
DA: The U21 European championship. It was a great moment especially to stay on the pitch and just play football and not to think about other things. For me it’s the best feeling and I hope I can keep playing for a long time without bad injuries. Football is my passion, it’s what I love and the thing I can do best. I really enjoy every minute on the pitch, sometimes not that much in training when you have to run, if you have a game that’s always a good moment – being on the pitch with your team.
MK: What does the future hold for Daniel Adlung? Can you see yourself going into coaching at a later date? Into the media?
DA: I have no idea at the moment, maybe I want to do my coaching license and coach young teams because I like to work with young players and also playing with young players. With that experience with nearly 300 games in the second division in Germany, you have a lot of experience to give to the young players. I want to do my license in coaching but you never know when I will hang up my boots, I might decide to step away from football and work at a supermarket or something like that. I’m a very open person but will decide later. I feel too fit and comfortable to play football to not think about after football.
MK: I appreciate you taking your time to speak to us at Bundesliga Fanatic and I wish you the best for the remainder of the season.
DA: My pleasure, Thank you.
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