Jürgen Kohler could hardly have chosen a better stage to bow out on. Having won the 1990 FIFA World Cup with the Federal Republic of Germany, EURO 96™ with the unified German team, the UEFA Champions League with BV Borussia Dortmund, he now approaches the last match of his 19-year career for the newly crowned 1. Bundesliga champions against Feyenoord in the UEFA Cup final, a trophy he won with Juventus FC in 1993 - ironically by beating his current club 6-1 over two legs.
The 105-times capped defender was part of a golden age of German international football that saw them emerge as the dominant European team in the early 1990s, an era particularly remembered in the Netherlands - the country that hosts Wednesday's final - for Kohler's duels with Dutch striker Marco van Basten. And, as Kohler reveals, finishing his time as a player in a Netherlands venue will allow him to indulge an unusual passion.
uefa.com: Rotterdam is the end of your career. The last match. What does this mean to you?
Jürgen Kohler: I am certainly looking forward to it, to the end and to the final. Of course, I hope that it will be positive for us even though we know that Feyenoord are a very, very good team, who have played some outstanding football this season. We don't have any problems with our role as underdogs and we will try to make the best out of it. I am happy being able to take part once again in a European final and I hope of course that we will be successful in the end.
uefa.com: The suspension of team-mate Christoph Metzelder means you may well start the match on Wednesday.
Kohler: That's football. You can't play every match and my colleague who had to do my job performed very well, you have to admit. Now I'm hoping that the team and I together can do what is necessary and what we are capable of and then I think we will see an interesting final.
uefa.com: Is this match a big thing for you personally, as you have almost won everything in the game?
Kohler: Yes, but still you are not satisfied. You always want to win. I think this is what has kept me and the other older players going. We always used to say success should provide your inner motivation. And that's what makes the difference between a good football player and a very good one. He is hungry for success, he always wants to be successful and I believe that the time has come that we in Dortmund should have success again.
uefa.com: In Holland the name Jürgen Kohler is related very closely with the name of another player. Do you know who?
Kohler: [Ruud] Gullit? [laughing] No, it is obvious, I mean Marco van Basten. He was a player with exceptional abilities. He was a big personality not only as a sportsman, but also as a private person. If we meet somewhere by chance, I think I can say that we have a good relationship in terms of sports and also privately. And we respect each other a lot, and that's the main thing. To have the respect of your opponent. It was always the case between us and, of course, Marco van Basten was very important in my career. I benefited from him. It is as simple as this. He was a big milestone in my career and for me he is one of the players who are the most outstanding personalities of the last century. Not only in sports, also as a human being.
uefa.com: Did you win or lose against Van Basten?
Kohler: I think, it is very close. Sometimes I won, sometimes I lost. In the end I think, I won the bigger title with Germany and from this angle I might have a slight advantage.
uefa.com: The Dutch remember some tough challenges on van Basten. Is this how you remember it?
Kohler: I wouldn't say that. The truth is the duels between us were simply tough with everything football offers. He stood and I delivered and then I stood and he delivered. So there was always a balance from the sporting point of view and I believe, he never complained about me and I never complained about him. And this shows how sports people should and also must deal with each other and behave.
uefa.com: Some German players are not very popular in Holland: Mario Basler, Lothar Matthäus, Stefan Effenberg. Do you think this also applies to you?
Kohler: I don't think so, but this is not important at the moment anyway. You cannot be friendly with everyone in the world. There will always be people who don't like a Basler or Kohler or Jürgen Schneck.
uefa.com: Who is that?
Kohler: Our press officer [laughs]. But there will always be people around saying 'Yes, these guys are all right'. Anyway you just can't be everybody's favourite. I believe it is important what players think of each other and there was always deep respect. That's the way it is. Germany v Holland has always been a prestigious match. Always. And there has always been spirit involved, tough tackles and that's OK. But never at least in my career has it been unfair and that's I think what counts.
uefa.com: Do you like Holland?
Kohler: Yes, I even went there for a holiday.
uefa.com: How come?
Kohler: Well, I like the cuisine over there. (laughing)
uefa.com: Excuse me, the cuisine?
Kohler: Yes, the cuisine. You can really enjoy the food over there. That's what I mean by cuisine. Also I went there for a holiday and that was quite interesting and best was the chips with mayonnaise - they were the very best thing for me.
uefa.com: But you played in Italy! I think Italian food is famous.
Kohler: Yes, but there you don't get chips like in Holland.
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