Despite his serious injury, Manuel Neuer clearly sees his way back into Bayern Munich's goal. It hit him worse than the broken leg that the Munich team kicked out his close confidant. In an interview, the goalkeeper chooses clear words.
For Manuel Neuer, the dismissal of a close friend at Bayern Munich "felt like my heart had been ripped out. It was the most brutal thing I've experienced in my career". In a major interview, the seriously injured footballer talks to the online portal "The Athletic" about his serious accident, the bitter preliminary round at the World Cup in Qatar - and in detail about the short-term departure of goalkeeping coach Toni Tapalovic from the German record champions.
His resignation from FC Bayern in January "came out of nowhere for him," says Neuer, "for Toni too. I didn't understand it at all. It really blew me away." The club had made "differences about the way of working together" public as the reason for the decision, which also raised questions about Neuer's future. The 36-year-old is close friends with Tapalovic - and sees the separation critically. "None of what I've heard," says Neuer when asked what justification he received, "precludes talking to each other and clarifying the matter."
The Bayern officials around CEO Oliver Kahn had assured him that the decision against Tapalovic was not an indication of Neuer changing the guard as the first goalkeeper, but: "I've thought about everything possible, including my future at the club." However, he felt that his concerns were being taken seriously, even if the Tapalovic departure "got him on the wrong foot and hit him hard", especially after the disappointing performance of the DFB team at the world tournament. Ultimately, however, "it's the decision of the club that I have to accept".
Tapalovic came to Bayern Munich with Neuer in 2011, but was released on January 23 with immediate effect. "After more than a decade, my time at Bayern Munich ends surprisingly today," the 42-year-old wrote in a first reaction to Instagram, Thomas Müller commented: "It was also an absolute success story in the last decade because of you." In public, the personnel decision had led to speculation that Munich could thus herald the end of the Neuer era at Bayern. Yann Sommer came as a replacement from Borussia Mönchengladbach and signed a contract until 2025.
Neuer does not comment on the "differences" between Tapalovic and the club cited by FC Bayern, which should mean head coach Julian Nagelsmann in particular: "I can't say anything about that" because "I'm not part of the coaching team." However, he describes the circumstances as a "great disappointment", also with regard to FC Bayern's self-image. "We want to be different - a family. And then something happens that I've never experienced before. It's a sad thing for everyone involved." However, he also says that he can separate his private feelings from his work.
Neuer spoke out with Nagelsmann. "We spoke very directly to each other," says the ten-time Bundesliga champion in a clarifying conversation: "He knows where I stand. I'm committed to the success of the club." But he doesn't want to get in the way either: "I'm a team player" and "as a team captain I have a special responsibility".
Meanwhile, the 36-year-old does not seem to doubt that he will return to this role after the lengthy rehab: "My leg, the healing process, the rehab, the comeback: I know how it works." The Tapalovic exit seems to concern him more sustainably when he says that there have been events in the recent past that "were worse than what happened to me physically" for Neuer.