Exclusive - Dietmar Hamann book extract: If James Bond had been Swedish, he would have been modelled on Sven
The Didi Man: My Love Affair with Liverpool, by Dietmar Hamann is released on February 2.
In this exclusive extract, the former Reds midfielder talks about some of his former managers.
‘Anger and hate are bad advisors’. I used to hear this statement almost every day in my early days at Bayern Munich.
Otto Rehhagel coined this phrase, and the more experienced I get the more I understand what he was saying. It is easy to make decisions when you are angry or hate a particular situation, but the chances are you will make bad decisions when clouded by intense emotions.
Statements like that come back to me these days as I start to see situations in football and in life from new angles.
It is making me realise I have been a very fortunate accidental apprentice, observing at close quarters some of the best football managers that have ever lived.
It’s a pretty impressive list of names: Beckenbauer, Trapattoni, Rehhagel, Vogts, Reibeck, Voeller, Dalglish, Gullit, Houllier, Benitez, Pearce, Eriksson, Hughes.
An Italian stands out as a manager that I will try to emulate in many ways, because I liked a lot of what I saw him do.
He was a greying, middle-aged man who was beginning to bulk out a bit, who would often get tongue-tied and mixed up with the German language, so there was a lot of unintentional comedy.
Behind that though, was a man who knew how to win silverware on a scale nobody had done before. This was Giovanni Trapattoni, a legend.
Trap was meticulous in his organisation and planning, a characteristic I have seen since in other great managers. He was a big influence on my game – essentially, I built a fulfilling career on the foundations Trap laid down for me. His investment in people was genuine and not for his own personal glorification. I found working with him a great experience, he was exceptional.
Then there was Sven Goran Eriksson, one of my great mentors.
A man of such charm and sophistication that had the James Bond character been Swedish, then it would surely have been modelled on him.
He was polished, professional, polite, dapper unflappable and likeable. Added to that he had great knowledge of the game and was prepared to show himself as a leader. He led from the front and made us want to play for him.
As the 2007-08 season came a close with Manchester City, we all knew these were almost certainly Sven’s last days as manager, yet during our time on a post-season tour of Thailand, he never changed his demeanour at all.
One morning when I was on a sun lounger by the pool, he walked towards me with a bottle of champagne and two glasses on it.
It was still only 10 in the morning. I looked up and said, ‘Boss, what are we celebrating?’ expecting him to make the triumphant announcement he was staying.
He turned to me and smiled that gentle smile of his and took the air of a Buddhist philosopher, as he said, ‘Life, Kaiser. We are celebrating life’.
With a glass of champagne in hand he stood and looked out towards the horizon, then spoke in that higgledy-piggledy Swedish accent:
‘You know Kaiser, I like this place. I think I will manage for another five years and come back here and live with two women. Yes. I think I need two beautiful women.’
He was a man who loved life and it was impossible not to like him and love being in his company.
He got me thinking about my career options when he once told me: ‘One day Kaiser, I think you will be a brilliant manager.’
At Stockport when I tried, the broken promises and courting of a new manager was unacceptable to me. I was enjoying the work as a manager, it was challenging and I learned a lot, but I could not stay under those circumstances.
I was disappointed with the way things turned out, but once I had got over that, I was able to confirm something for myself. Football management is for me. I know quite clearly that is something I want to do.
Some players have a go and decide that it is not for them. I’ve had a go and I know that it is for me. It is a shame my future wasn’t at Stockport, but I’ll wait for another opportunity and go into it better prepared, because of what I learned about management and about myself.
I’ve had a lot to look back on in my life, but importantly, I feel that I have a lot to look forward to.
I continue to be positive, and I continue to live by the words of one of my great mentors, Sven Goran Eriksson: ‘Life Kaiser, we are celebrating life’.
I continue to celebrate life.