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VfB Stuttgart – Florian Müller in an interview: “You really felt that the whole stadium was now scoring this damn goal together”



Florian Müller with the monster save against Willi Orban in the game against Leipzig.

Florian Müller took on the difficult legacy of Gregor Kobel at VfB Stuttgart and experienced an extremely eventful and sometimes very complicated first season with the Swabians. Shape changes, critically eyed by the fans, flattened by Corona – but in the end given a moment for eternity despite a major mistake in the season finale.

In an interview with SPOX and GOAL gives Müller a little insight into his inner life after the unforgettable relegation, but he also takes a very reflective look at the football business in general and explains why he wants to stay out of the bubble as much as possible.

The 24-year-old also talks about a landmark decision at the age of just 10 and reveals how VfB coach Pellegrino Matarazzo has changed this season.

Mr Müller, is it true that your father wanted to prevent you from becoming a goalkeeper?

Florian Mueller: That’s correct. He was in goal himself, maybe that’s why. He said that goalkeeping is just such an incredibly thankless job and somehow he’s right about that to a certain extent. At the beginning I played both in the field and in goal, I enjoyed both, but I was simply much better in goal than in the field. So I decided to continue the family tradition and from the age of 12 I was only a goalkeeper. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a bad decision.

You made a remarkable decision early in your life. You were 10 years old then. Do tell.

Miller: It was about which high school I would go to after elementary school. Of course, it would have been easier to choose a high school nearby, but I really wanted to go to the elite sports school in Saarbrücken, even though it was more than 30 kilometers from our parents’ house. Firstly, I was completely crazy about sports, I felt like I tried every sport, and secondly, I already had the dream and vision in my head back then that I wanted to be a professional one day. And that’s why it was clear to me that the school in Saarbrücken is perfect for me. My parents weren’t too enthusiastic about it at first, though. And when I was 10, I couldn’t decide on my own. (laughs) But luckily I was able to convince her.

Wasn’t that hard just because of the distance?

Miller: Looking back, it was huge, I left the house at 6:30 every morning and then drove 90 minutes to get to school. But as a kid you don’t really feel the effort, today I would probably think it’s crazy, but at the time it didn’t bother me. On the contrary, it was a really cool time from which I was able to take a lot with me and which put me in exactly the right direction. I would do it again anytime.

You’ve always had a very reflective view of the football business, where does that come from?

Miller: From the very beginning of my career, it was extremely important to me to keep in touch with friends and acquaintances who are not in this business. Who lead a “normal” life, because as a footballer you don’t live a “normal” life if you’re honest with yourself. You’re in a bubble, which I just want to stay out of for a bit. When I’m training or at a game, I’m 100 percent there with everything I have, but outside of that it’s important for me to take it easy. That’s good for me. That also keeps you grounded. Sometimes when you talk to people outside of football, you first realize what’s really going on in the world and what the real problems are. And you realize what a privileged life you lead. Being a professional soccer player is not something you can take for granted.

Florian Müller: “No one is worth that much money”

What bothers you most about business?

Miller: Everything is getting bigger, bigger and bigger, we’re all aware of that. When I look at the development of transfer fees, it’s sometimes surreal. Nobody is worth that much money. I try to just focus on myself and my club and mostly ignore that.

Then we focus on you and the new season. Pellegrino Matarazzo said you’ve got plans for the season. The start was strong when you think of the Leipzig game. What have you specifically planned?

Miller: I want to show what I can do. I want to show what I couldn’t show last season in the way I would have liked to have done. In contrast to last year, I took part in all of the preparation. I was there for six weeks instead of ten days, which makes a big difference, I feel it every day. I feel really good and fit.

Looking back, was taking part in the Olympics the biggest “problem” of the last season?

Miller: The Olympics were an incredible experience that I definitely wouldn’t want to miss, but it wasn’t ideal for the season at VfB, that’s the truth. I wasn’t at 100 percent for a long time and when I was close, Corona caught me.

Florian Müller: Corona hit me that badly

And properly.

Miller: I really just lay in bed for four days. Every time I tried to get up, I had to lie down right after a few steps. I was completely drained. That’s why it took quite a long time afterwards before I felt really good again. Actually, it wasn’t until the end of the season that I was at the level I would have liked to have been at all season. Now I’m in great shape and I want to consistently show what I’m capable of. I’ve already proven I can – now I want to perform consistently week in and week out.

We have to talk again about the Cologne game on the last day of the game, which for many VfB fans was perhaps the best football day of their lives and may remain forever.

Miller: For me, this day will stay forever. I’ll never forget the moment when I ran into the dressing room after the game and the pitch storm and collapsed in the players’ tunnel. There have already been a few tears. I needed this moment all to myself because such a brutal burden fell off me. It was extreme emotion, up and down, completely insane. It was the wildest roller coaster ride of my life. That started before the Cologne game. The whole story with Bayern winning a point, how the season went for us as a team in general, but also for me personally, then I make this mistake in the second half, as I said, it was all extremely too much.

Describe the atmosphere in the stadium again before Endo made it 2-1.

Miller: You really felt that the whole stadium was now scoring this damn goal together. Cologne players came to me later and just said: “What was that, please?” It was incredible. It’s hard to describe for people who weren’t in the stadium. There was such a volume, such a force, there was such a force created by our fans – the goal had to come down. But I also like to think about the Munich game, where you could only hear our fans in the Allianz Arena. Our fans pushed us so hard, even if things went badly for long stretches of the season, they played a big part in staying up in the league. This experience will probably connect the team and fans forever.

Florian Müller: An overview of his career at VfB Stuttgart

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