“The biggest match of my career”

The Zurich resident will be eagerly awaited against Paris. Image: DPA

Interview

This Tuesday evening at the Parc des Princes, the Swiss goalkeeper is playing the first Champions League semi-final return of his career. Interview.

sven schoch/keystone-ats

Gregor Kobel, how would you describe these last few weeks?
It is a dream! Finding yourself in the top 4 with Dortmund is great. This hasn’t happened so often in the past. It’s a cool story – for me and for BVB.

What memories do you have of the memorable 4-2 last April, during the quarter-final second leg against Atlético Madrid?
It was extremely special. The match scenario itself was already exciting, with ups and downs. But, for some reason, I was relatively serene and calm inside throughout the whole match – even after the two goals conceded. At 2-2, I didn’t feel nervous. Somehow I always felt like we were going to make it.

How do you perceive the public during these magical evenings?
The support of our supporters is always great. But during such matches, the spectators are even louder, the atmosphere seems somehow more electric, and the energy then also transmits to us, the players.

Do these impressions remain somewhere in memory?
To be completely honest, I haven’t had time to dwell on it, because things are going very quickly for us at the moment. It is possible that there will be something left for the future: for a goalkeeper, experience values ​​are important, many things are decided in the head. But currently, only the present moment counts, the next match. We are in the middle of the competition. That’s the only thing I think about, the future is currently very far away.

Are you going to play the biggest match of your career this Tuesday?
This match is definitely at the top of my list. I have never played in a Champions League semi-final before. So it could well already be the biggest match of my career, yes.

How to reach the final?
We have to be focused. Not like during the group stage, where we delivered our worst match in this Champions League in Paris. We must behave as a team. Everyone must help the other, act as guarantor for them. PSG has so much quality that they can be incredibly dangerous. In addition to maximum performance on our part, it will probably also require a bit of luck.

Which Dortmund quality could be decisive?
In European competition, we are capable of achieving a top result in every match. Our consistency is evident, even against teams that are better on paper. We progressed from match to match in the Champions League. Our team is very well balanced offensively and defensively. The mix of ages in the squad is also suitable. And in the European Cup, we defended very, very well, with five clean sheets. We deserve to be in the semi-final.

Kobel shone in the first leg against PSG.Keystone

What was necessary on your side to reach such a level?
I invested a lot. In fact, it starts from childhood. The many ups and downs are part of it, as is how to deal with them. I’ve had good experiences, but also bad ones. The work, the energy that I put in, remains as great as ever, until today.

You arrived in Germany ten years ago now. Your status has changed significantly. How do you see your role at BVB?
You can’t claim a role on a football team. We grow up there. I like being part of this group, being able to get involved in it. I like to approach goals together. And it’s true, I try to look forward and continue to develop throughout my career. Being critical of yourself has never been, and is not, a disadvantage.

But for almost two seasons, you have been the No. 1 goalkeeper in the Bundesliga according to the experts.
It is an honour for me. As a child, I always looked towards Germany. The great football nation, the Bundesliga.

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