Creative Soccer Culture

David Alaba On Leaving Bayern Munich

Having made his debut for the club at the age of 17, David Alaba is now preparing to bring the curtain down on his time at Bayern Munich as he seeks to leave what he terms his “comfort zone”.

With a staggering eight Bundesliga titles in a row (with a ninth likely to arrive at the end of this season), six DFB-Pokal triumphs, two Champions League crowns and a couple of FIFA Club World Cup triumphs, including two trebles in amongst all of that, it’s some comfort zone that David Alaba has been enjoying over the last 11 years, since he made his first team debut. But after 13 years in total with the club, the Austrian international is now looking for a new challenge, which, if reports are to be believed, is set to be with Real Madrid.

In an extensive interview in the May 2021 issue of the Bayern Munich monthly club magazine '51', Alaba explains why he’s leaving his Bayern Munich “Comfort zone” with a tear in his eye, as well as going on to say thank you from the bottom of his heart to the fans on his farewell. The vibrant character that he is, he will certainly be missed.

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Your time at FC Bayern is drawing to a close after 13 years – how does that feel?

There’s still a bit of time before I go, and I can’t fully take it in at the moment. But to be honest, there are days where I catch myself looking back at this special time here at FC Bayern. It’s just been fantastic over the years.

Do you know what you will miss most?

The dressing room and my teammates, the fans in the stadium, the atmosphere at Säbener Straße where I spent two years in the youth accommodation at the beginning. I’ll also miss the city of Munich where I’ve lived for 13 years and which has become much more than a second home for me. My son was born in Munich, his grandparents live here, so there will always be a close connection.

Apart from your ability on the pitch, the others will also miss your Viennese chat. Who really understood you? Or was Thomas Müller the only one?

(laughs) No, not at all. In the end, there were more and more who understood me. Even Jérôme [Boateng] understands me now, so I don't have to repeat myself twice. And my ‘Bist du deppert!’ [you must be daft] is in the vocabulary of all the overseas players. Leon [Goretzka] recently said to me that he really finds it difficult every time I come back from the Austria team. Then I need a couple of days to acclimatise.

You mentioned staying in the youth accommodation at first. What does FC Bayern mean to you after all these years?

I came here as a 16-year-old from Vienna and now we’re looking back at almost half my life, 13 years later. That really says it all. The club is my family, my home, my special place.

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Will there be any tears when you go?

I can’t say whether you’ll see me cry but I definitely will inwardly. I had to battle with my emotions recently when we had our last big photo shoot at the Allianz Arena. I’m incredibly grateful for the support from our fans over all the years. I’ve always had the feeling of having a special connection to them. One time at Frankfurt, a fan called me over to the fence, and after that we had eye contact at least after every game. I could always imagine myself in the South Stand because I stood there a couple of times when I was a teenager. It’s funny how it’s all turned out. I was a ball boy and, before games in the Champions League, also one of the boys who made waves with the round flag in the centre circle when the stars came out. And then, I was a player on the pitch.

Is there something you want to say to the fans before you leave?

Yes, it’s very simple: thank you for everything! I’ll never forget this relationship and it will always be in my heart.

If you look back at 16-year-old David, what was the young lad in Munich like back then?

(grins) Definitely a little rascal. But also a lad who never gave up believing in his big dreams and I definitely wanted to make it. The view from my room looked out onto the first-team pitch. I watched the training sessions through my window every day and I decided to do everything I could to make my dream come true.

Bayern fans are devastated that you’re leaving. Be honest, don’t you feel the same?

Yes, of course. It’s always difficult when something comes to an end and it’s no secret that I’ve always really felt at home here. Obviously, I’m leaving FC Bayern with a tear in my eye but also looking forward to my future at the same time. It wasn’t a decision against the club, but I decided I’d like to do something new and take another step forward. To grow, you have to leave your 'comfort zone' – and I deliberately put that word in quotation marks because it could possibly be misunderstood. At FC Bayern, the expectations on the pitch are always extreme from the management, in the dressing room or from yourself. I think that perhaps you have to go into the unknown to be able to mature again.

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What’s your wish for FC Bayern?

Only the very best. This club will always be in my heart. I’m incredibly grateful. I wish FC Bayern carry on writing a great success story. And to be honest, I have no worries about this club there.

Read the full interview in the May 2021 issue of the Bayern Munich monthly club magazine '51'.

Photography by Dirk Bruniecki.

Daniel Jones

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