Hopp: “It reminds me of 1954”

It's not just the German national team that has been in the south of France recently. Dietmar Hopp, the owner of TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, has also been relaxing in the region in the last few days, preparing for the summer's showpiece footballing event: the 2012 UEFA European Championships in Poland and Ukraine. Here the software entrepreneur answers questions on Germany's chances at the Euros, the psychology of football and his association with Hollywood actor Sean Connery.

Mr. Hopp, how do assess the mood in the German camp after the slip-up against Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland last weekend?

I don't believe the 5-3 defeat will harm the confidence among the squad too much, mainly because we still have a way to go with our preparation to reach that top level.

What type of feedback have you received from Joachim Löw, Hans-Dieter Flick and the rest of the management team regarding the facilities that the players have here?

We have been here for a few weeks now to show Mr. Löw around, and he was extremely enthusiastic. The only slight hiccup has been the weather; we had rain for the first three days. But we have a spa and a very nice and comfortable suite here in these beautiful surroundings.

Are the only winners to emerge from last week's defeat the players from FC Bayern Munich, who were given extended leave after the unsuccessful Champions League final?

The German national team would barely function without FC Bayern and their contribution. It's a similar situation to that in 1954. In the game to decide which team won the Championship, Hannover 96 beat 1. FC Kaiserslautern 5-1. But Sepp Herberger, the national team coach, didn't read too much into it and took Kaiserslautern players Fritz and Ottmar Walter, Horst Eckel, Werner Liebrich and Werner Kohlmeyer with him to the World Cup in Switzerland. There wasn't a single Hannover player in the squad and Germany ended up winning.

What do think the German team can achieve in Poland and the Ukraine?

Obviously I hold out a lot of hope that we will win the competition. But my expectations are also quite high. I think we will reach the semi-finals.

Eren Derdiyok will be joining Hoffenheim for the start of the new season, and he impressed a lot of people with his hat-trick in Basel last Saturday. What else can we expect from him when he dons an 1899 shirt?

That was undoubtedly an exceptional performance from him. I hope and expect that he will ease our goal drought next season.

Tim Wiese, also soon to be joining TSG, will be at the Euros with Germany. What is your opinion of his as a player and a person?

I got to know Tim Wiese when he signed for us at my golf club. He is a friendly and totally uncomplicated young man. I have always believed he was an excellent goalkeeper and sincerely hope that he'll be a key part of our defence in the future.

Is Bayern Munich's Champions League heartbreak likely to spur the players on or be a load on their minds?

I'm convinced that they will have pushed that frustration out of their minds, just like in 1954 when the Lautern players turned disappointment into triumph.

Team psychologist Hans-Dieter Hermann anticipates a ‘response of defiance.' How important do you think it is to have a motivator in the background, someone to make sure the players are in the right place mentally?

Having a team psychologist is important for dealing with all types of problems, not just psychological. And the example of 1954 confirms exactly what Hans-Dieter Hermann predicts will happen.

And finally, what is your connection to former James Bond actor Sean Connery?

I don't actually know him, but he once owned the land on which we built the golf resort. He wanted to convert it into something but didn't get planning permission for it and then decided he didn't want the plot anymore. But we didn't get the land from him directly. We ended up purchasing it through a Swedish bank.

And on July 1st you will be…

…hopefully celebrating a German victory in the final.

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