It could have been bad. We meet Marc-André ter Stegen for a photo shoot in the modernist headquarters of his sponsor Cupra outside of Barcelona, three days before the Champions League quarter-final match between his FC Barcelona and Bayern. The 28-year-old goalkeeper knows that shortly after the last game of the season he will have to undergo an operation on his knee that will force him into rehab for a good two months. He should be tense, if only because of the photos. If you are not a professional photo model, it is usually stressful, and there is also a little time pressure because the team has to go to Portugal for the game. But if Ter Stegen is under pressure, no one will notice it that day. On the contrary, he seems relaxed. Now, in retrospect, you could say that he didn’t know what to expect. As I said: you could say that. But that would mean you don’t know him. (Read here: Toni Kroos im GQ-Interview)
We know how it turned out. Barcelona go down two to eight against Bayern, and although Ter Stegen is not directly complicit in any of the goals, it is one of the bitterest days of his life. Eight goals conceded – sheer horror for a goalkeeper. Regardless of the level. No matter against whom. And for Marc-André ter Stegen, the defeat is the end of the season, and thus the beginning of the patellar tendon campaign that he has been pushing for a while. That means hospital, convalescence, and therefore a lot of time to think and brood. These are the moments when it becomes apparent what someone is made of. And really great athletes are characterized by the fact that they can quickly forget. Learning from failure. Check off. Further.
Ter Stegen: “It’s obvious that we have to change things at Barcelona”
“We have to think about the future,” explains ter Stegen GQ during the last interview, just three days after the knee surgery. “I don’t want to look for excuses because there aren’t any. It is obvious that we have to change things at Barcelona, but we will do that and work on the future. ”Probably the most important thing we mere mortals can learn from successful footballers: identify problems and not get stuck on things that you can can not influence itself. The past, for example. Successful footballers don’t complain about the weather or the bad turf, they do what you have to do to win titles. Ter Stegen has 16 of them – including the Champions League trophy. (Read here: Who will be the new Bundesliga superstar?)
FC Barcelona, the pride of Catalonia, is only the second club of the Mönchengladbach native – after Borussia. “Then as now, I am very convinced of my decision to take the step. Mönchengladbach is and will of course always be my home, but we have been in Barcelona for six years now, and I can say that I really feel at home. ” “We will see for the future. It is still too early to flirt with something or even to deny it, that will then become apparent. ”He can also imagine staying with his family in Spain after his career. “It’s possible. Because both Dani and I are German and our family lives there, we always have the thought of going back, but that will also show in the future. Who knows what’s coming? ”
“I am grateful for every minute that I was allowed to spend with my little family”
What remains, however, is clear: the family. Because of son Ben and his wife Dani, the time of the very hard lockdown in Spain as a result of the corona pandemic was ultimately a valuable experience for Ter Stegen. “With all the negative sides of COVID-19, the best thing about the long break was the amount of time we spent in our still young father-son relationship. Otherwise I am on the road a lot and traveling. I am grateful for every minute that I was able to spend with my little family. We tried to use the time and at the same time maintain routines with regard to the daily routine. ”(Read here: Stream Bundesliga for free for one month)
Son Ben was born on December 28, 2019 in Barcelona. He turned his father’s view of life and his perspective on the job. “Many topics that one would have previously described as important have slipped far back in the ranking. Dani and I couldn’t be happier or prouder. “
The future, which for active athletes is mostly determined by the next sporting goal and perhaps the question of the post-career, takes on a different, additional dimension when you become a father. “I believe,” he says, referring to Cupra, among other things, of which he is the brand ambassador, “that a lot will happen in the next few years and that our cars will have to be built and processed more and more environmentally friendly. The rethinking has long since begun and has to be implemented as quickly as possible. ”His world is now also his son’s world, so he has to make sure that it is still as beautiful 100 years from now as possible.
Ter Stegen: “I am calm and confident about the situation”
His knee gives him a little time with his family, so at least something good comes out of it. He will be absent from the international matches in autumn and will probably only be back on the field in November. “I’m calm and confident about the situation,” he says, and that shouldn’t come as a surprise, because obviously he practically always is, “I’ll be back 100 percent in a few weeks.”
Hopefully, I will return to training soon. And then hopefully into a more or less normal season that ends in a European Championship. He will add a few more chapters to his career, he is only 28 years old, so still very young for a goalkeeper. And he feels like it. “Hopefully, there will be many more successful years before I retire, in which I enjoy being on the pitch with friends who have the same goal.” It really could have been worse.
The current GQ
This article originally appeared in the October issue of GQ. Also: the big GQ interview with Cover-Star Pedro Pascal , a sex special and a visit to Beatles legend Paul McCartney in the countryside. The new GQ will be in stores from September 10th or available online here.