An Interview with Tom Starke

It feels like he's always been here, but in reality Tom Starke has only been standing between the sticks for 1899 Hoffenheim since the beginning of the season. However, in the short amount of time he has been at the club since his move from MSV Duisburg, the goalkeeper has become a fan favourite and a leading figure in Sinsheim. Despite a setback earlier this season that saw him miss two months with an abdominal injury, the experienced 29-year old has been able to offer invaluable support to this young, up-and-coming team. In an interview with, Starke discusses his role in Hoffenheim and even give us a look into his personal life. Tom, following your injury do you feel like you're back to the famous 100%?

Tom Starke: I'm close to 100%. By playing matches again, I'm getting back into my normal routines and processes, but I was fit from the moment I returned.

When you were out injured Daniel Haas did a fantastic job in goal. What's the relationship like between you two and the other goalkeepers?

The situation with the goalkeepers here is a little strange. I've never experienced anything like this in my career so far. Despite the competition, though, we're all very friendly with one another because we know and understand the situation we're all in. I was pleased for Daniel that he was able to keep everything in check while I was injured, especially as he managed to help the team put some more points on the board.

The match against Schalke put an end to a poor run of form. What do think were the deciding factors in the win compared to the matches before that?

Against Cottbus and Pauli we were the clear favourites and that was potentially a psychological disadvantage. In the match against Schalke I reckon everyone could have lived with just a point. However, after we went 1-0 up everything in the match went our way. It was almost the perfect match for us in terms of our expectations; the only criticism would have been that we actually could have scored more.

You started your career at Bayer 04 Leverkusen in 2002 and were part of the team nicknamed "Vize-kusen" having failed to win any of the 3 competitions they were involved in. What are your memories of losing the Bundesliga title on the final day of the season and the losses in the Champions League final and DFB Pokal final that season?

I was 19 at the time and sitting on the bench. It was certainly a memorable season that will certainly live long in my memory. However, it's good to remember the positive things too, as we played some fantastic matches especially in the Champions League. Although I had to wait until I moved to Hamburg to make my debut in the Bundesliga, I look at that season as my introduction to professional football.

You're a very family orientated person. What kind of role does your family and two kids play in your life?

My family comes first in everything. There's nothing more important than family. There have certainly been situations - especially in my football career - when things haven't quite gone my way. So when I go home it gives me a chance to switch off and my kids provide me with somewhat of a pick-me-up. Of course the flip side of that is that when things are going well, your family can be what keeps you grounded. They are always there to support me, which is something I want to teach my children.

Your younger brother, Manuel Starke, is a footballer too. Do you stay in contact with one another?

Of course, Manuel is essentially my best friend. Our parents taught us what it meant to be a family and its' importance, which is something that we want to honour.

On the pitch he's an attacking all-rounder, while you're a goalkeeper. Surely you're the perfect training partners, right?

(Laughs) That's true and we we're always practising together at every opportunity and even swapped roles every once in a while. Even now when we're both visiting our parents, we still grab a ball and go for a little kick about.

Given that you'll be turning 30 this year, the best age for a goalkeeper, do you believe your age automatically puts you in a leadership role as part of such a young squad?

I don't think it necessarily has anything to do with my age, but more to do with my character. You can be a leader even if your 22, proven by the likes of Philipp Lahm and Andi Beck, but it all boils down to a players' character and how involved they are willing to be. I do see myself as a leader, but then I've always thought that even when I was younger.

After such an active career as a footballer, could you ever see yourself taking up a coaching role?

Football is my hobby and it will always stay that way. What position I'm going to be in is something that I can't predict. I have to admit though a head coaching role is not something that I would be particularly excited about right now. However, I could definitely see myself working as a goalkeeping coach or maybe as a club scout. At the end of the day, though, you never know what's going to happen in football!


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