Aussie goalkeeper Mitch Langerak is heading to Wembley with Borussia Dortmund. He talks exlusively about the UCL final, Socceroos and Aussies in Germany.
Australian goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak is headed to Wembley with Borussia Dortmund for the UEFA Champions League Final. And while he may not get a start he-s more than ready should anything happen to regular No.1 Roman Weidenfeller.
Football Australia Deputy Editor caught up with Langerak after Dortmund training to talk Champions League, Socceroos and the growing number of Aussies and Kiwis in Germany.
Mitch how are you? Germany must be exciting at the moment. Yeah it is exciting times, we have just sewn up second in the league and have the Champions League Final next week, so there is a bit of a nervous energy and excitement going through the camp.
You have had a bit of game time lately, how-s your own preparation? For me personally it-s all the same I don-t change too much and that-s the same for the team. We have one more weekend of Bundesliga this weekend and then our attention switches to the London game.
The whole town is buzzing here in Dortmund and all over Germany to be honest, because of the two German teams, it-s exciting.
Two German teams, Champions League Final in England, playing at Wembley, have you thought much about that? It has sunk in over the last week, and we have had games in between which have diverted our attention, but to play at Wembley will be a massive occasion to have so many fans and friends in London, but Wembley is known all over the world and what it means.
Growing up in Queensland did the thought ever cross your mind you would be playing this big a match there? Not at all, when I first came to Germany it was all about settling in and before I knew it we won the league, then we won the league again and the German Cup final, and now to have a Champions league final it is ridiculous to be honest. The whole city is going crazy
What-s that like? It-s hard in Australia to imagine the magnitude of the fandom in Europe. Describe it for us. There are 80,000 people in our stadium every week in Dortmund as it is. This final Dortmund has had over 500,000 requests for tickets and I-m sure Bayern have probably had the same. There are so many people trying to get to London, I think all flights are booked out and it-s difficult to get to London from Germany right now.
There is a massive rivalry with Bayern, last time out the match got fiery, does it get better for German football. The last game it did get pretty fiery and the players… we-re well aware of what this match means. Most fans want us to win over Bayern. Bayern are the big club with all the money. They are known across the world and we-re probably seen as the underdogs in this game.
Fair to say you are the underdogs. You have matched Bayern recently though. Is there nothing to lose, nothing to fear? We have shown we can handle them. Over the last three years we have beaten them most times and in the German Cup final we beat them 5-2. It-s crazy because we know exactly what to expect.
It-s not like we-re playing against Barcelona with players we have never seen before. We are playing against Bayern Munich, we-re well aware of what they are capable of, but for us it-s about what we can do, and there is no fear because we know what to expect now.
In that 5-2 win, you got subbed on, huge moment for yourself - if you hark back to that, that-s a huge match, if you-re called on again, you-re ready to go? Absolutely. I have played two big games against Bayern Munich before and have experienced the big-game atmosphere, in the Cup Final that was crazy, this is a bigger occasion of course but we are confident.
I-m happy with how I have been playing lately. I have played three games over the last two months or so, and it-s been good to fill in and do well in those games. I-m full of confidence that I am ready and available to play. It-s the nature of being a second keeper that opportunities can be few and far between, but you also have to be ready when they-re presented, and I am.
You-re 24, young by keeper standards, and Jurgen Klopp (Dortmund coach)has given you lot of praise when you have played, how much to you take from that? Jurgen Klopp gives me lots of confidence. He-s a great coach and he always has lots of good words for me, which is good for me. Every time I have played I think I have done well and it-s a great thing he has that faith. As a manager, he is second to none.
Mustafa Amini is at the club as well, how is he going? He-s doing well, playing regularly in the second team now. They are in a bit if a relegation fight but hopefully they can stay up.
Every time I watch Musti play he is doing well and when he is training with the first team he is always impressing. He-s definitely putting his best foot forward every time he trains and that is something the other boys have said to me, they are noticing him. He-s a very talented player, he just has to bide his time and while it-s difficult to make that final breakthrough to the first team, I feel for Mustafa that won-t be far away.
A few boys from the A-League are now in the Bundesliga, what-s that say about Australia-s reputation? With Robbie (Kruse) he deserves it all (success), he has got himself fit and is playing so well, is the best player in their team at Dusseldorf and hopefully he can have another good season next year. As for Marco Rojas I don-t know him personally but I know him through A-League and I think it-s exciting times, Stuttgart is a massive club and I think he-ll do well there.
You still have Socceroos ambitions, where are they at? I think the next three games are very important to us and I-d love to be involved in whatever way I can. I hope I get selected, but we will have to wait and see when the squad is announced, but it-s a very important time for us and we have to string results together and qualify for the World Cup.
Disappointed you were overlooked for the last qualifier against Oman? Of course. I-m disappointed whenever I don-t get called up but that-s how it goes, the coach picks his squad but hopefully I am involved in the next one.
Mark Schwarzer won-t be around forever, do you see the next four years as the time you step up and stake your claim to the No.1 jersey? I think so. Australia has so many good keepers who are doing well in different parts of the world at different clubs and everyone has a chance to do well when Mark does retire.
Right now Mark is the No.1 and he is still doing well for Australia. It-s up to everyone else behind him to do well and force our way in, it-s not up to him to retire or step aside, it-s got to be up to us to push him aside and I mean that in a good way. We can-t just sit back and wait for him to retire to see who gets the chance. It has to be a challenge for everyone.
OK, but Roman Weidenfeller just signed a new deal, where does that leave you at a club level? He is one of the best keepers in Germany and probably has been the best this year in the Bundesliga and has shown that in the league and Champions League, but I-m always learning and learning from one of the best doesn-t hurt me at all.
The next two weeks are going to be crazy. Have you thought about what it could be like post-final? It-s always crazy. We have had the two championships here in Dortmund where the whole city has gone crazy for a week afterwards, but if we win the Champions League we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
I-m sure it will be an amazing time and something we will all look back on for the rest of our lives if we do win, but for now we can-t get ahead of ourselves. The next two weeks should be a really good experience though. I-m looking forward to it.