“If I can go see them, I’ll go. But anyway, I’m going with the Real.” These are the words of Dietmar Kühbauer (Heiligenkreuz im Lafnitztal, Austria, 1971), former Real Sociedad player for three seasons and current coach of Rapid Vienna
Donostia – Didi attend very kindly the call of NOTICIAS DE GIPUZKOA, and with a more than acceptable Castilian, doand a review of his “sad” time at the Royal Society. A difficult personal situation attached to a accumulation of physical problems did not allow him to triumph in the blue and white team, where he played a total of 56 games in which he scored two goals. Now, fully immersed in his coaching career, he analyzes for this newspaper Sturm Graz, Real’s next rival in the group stage of the Europa League.
How do you remember your time at Real Sociedad?
– For me it is a very difficult story. When I went to Donostia to play soccer, I did so in a very complicated personal situation. What was my wife at the time had a very serious traffic accident. He was in a coma for a long time and finally passed away. My situation was not the best. I was in a foreign country, away from home and with such an incredible and difficult personal situation to assimilate. In none of the three years that I was in the Real did I become the Didi Kühbauer footballer, neither the one before nor the one after. Never. I am very sorry that I could not shine as I would have liked. There in the Real I was neither the same person nor the same player that they signed.
So, the memory of his time at La Real is not good, or am I wrong?
-You can say that it is bittersweet. The city was incredible, I really liked living there because it was very beautiful and I remember the kindness of the people. They were three good years in that sense, but not football. Despite my circumstances, I have very good memories of San Sebastián.
What is your best memory?
–My best match with Real was against Real Madrid. We won 4-2, I scored a goal and gave two assists. It was my best game, but I liked football so much that each game was special for me, even if I didn’t play like I used to. It was a complicated feeling. In Austria I was an important player, but I was frustrated at Real. But despite everything, my stay in San Sebastián was very good and I will never forget it.
Have you ever come back?
– I have not had the opportunity, but I want to do it. For years I have had the idea of going back to my wife and daughters. For me, a very important person in my stay at the Real and in San Sebastián was Antonio Ollo, counselor of the Real at that time. A very important, very great person. He knew my personal situation and he helped me a lot, he and his daughter María, whom I have a lot of appreciation for, and with whom I have a great friendship. Next year I will go for sure.
Well, you will find a field that has nothing to do with the one you played on …
-I already saw it. It is a super field. Now it’s a stadium fucking mother. I like very much. I’ve seen it on television, and the atmosphere there is. That’s a football field, with noise, and not like the one we played on, with the tracks that made it a bit cold. Now it feels like a totally different field.
Do you keep in touch with a former teammate from your time at La Real?
–Sometimes I talk to Imaz. When I was playing for Mattesburgo I coincided with Real in a concentration in Jerez, with Loren, who was the sports director, and with Fuentes, who was president. I was also with Kovacevic. And by the way, I am very happy that Imanol Alguacil is now coach of Real Sociedad. We shared a year in the locker room. I have the memory of a very kind and very reserved person.
Speaking to his former teammates, they always say that they are surprised to see Imanol on a bench as a coach. To you too?
-It was serious, but in football it is not important if you are shy or yell a lot. The truth is always on the field and the way you work with your team. All coaches have tactical and technical knowledge, but what I emphasize is knowing how to communicate, relate well with the team. In today’s football that is very important.
Do you have bad temper as a coach?
-No. I always have a good relationship with my team. When you scream, in my opinion, it’s only for the press. I speak with my players with a strong tone, but always with respect. Not very high. I can speak normal, but with a strong tone. If you yell, I repeat, it is only for the press. The generation of footballers today is different from that of 30 years ago. You have to speak in a different way.
He will return as a soccer coach. How are you doing at Rapid Vienna?
“Now I’m on the other side.” I’m the boss, but I really enjoy it. Rapid Vienna is a very popular club and the pressure is great. We have had good years, finishing second, because now Salzburg takes it all. It has much better equipment, more economic power and it shows. I am very happy with my team, with my work, although now we are in a difficult situation. We are eighth in the standings and that is not good news for Rapid. We have always been in the top three. But I enjoy being a coach. I really like working with young players, with footballers. I have been a professional trainer for three years and I try to learn every day.
Soccer has changed a lot since you were a player, right?
-Yes, sure. Soccer has changed a lot. It has nothing to do with it. It is faster, stronger, there is more pressure. For example, there in Spain, there is a lot of quality. And it’s something that surprises me, but for the better. I was watching the game in Italy and Spain amazed me. Italy is a very strong team, which has just won the European Championship and had not lost in many games, but Spain played in an incredible way. Each of its footballers plays soccer and that is something very difficult to see. The level of the Spanish league when I went was very high, but now it is higher. Soccer is faster, more intense and you have to play with great intensity. It is not worth only with the quality.
Have you been able to see a Real Sociedad game this season?
–I have DAZN in my house and when Real plays, I try to watch the game. I always go with the Real. Seriously. I really like how Real plays. They have a great team with a very special player like Mikel Oyarzabal. He is an incredible player. But Real have always had good players and I don’t know how they do it. It is not a very big country, but every year they always draw good players from the quarry. It has footballers with a lot of heart and I think it is something characteristic of there, of the Basque Country. The players of the Basque Country are different, with more heart, dedicated to their teams. They want to play primarily on your team. Then, if they want to take the leap, they do it, but later.
La Real will face Sturm Graz, currently second place, in the Europa League. What can you tell me?
-Sturm Graz in Austria is a strong team, playing 4-4-2, and putting a lot of pressure on the rival team. In Austria that’s enough, because we don’t have as good players as in Spain. La Real have much better quality than Sturm Graz. If Real play normal, as they are doing so far, it is much better. But, for me, Sturm Graz is a strong team, although they are not at the same level as Real.
So, go to the Royal favorite, right?
-Yes, definitely. Sturm Graz have nothing to lose in this match. If you lose, you will not receive any criticism. But if they win, it will be quite a party. In spite of everything, if everything runs smoothly, Real will win both games, both in Anoeta and here in Austria. But you already know how football works, that when you least expect it …
Which players stands out from Sturm Graz?
– For me the best player they have is injured. It’s Otar Kiteishvili, a midfielder. He is their best player, but he has a serious injury and he will not be able to play. Gorenc Stankovic is playing very well in midfield. There is also Kelvin Yeboah, a very strong player. He is a striker who has a lot of quality and plays a lot with his body. He is only 20 years old and I think he will be short-lived in Austria. Maybe next year he leaves. I repeat that your best player is injured. In defense I would highlight the Swiss central Gregory Wüthrich. And Siebenhandl is playing in goal. He’s a good goalkeeper, but a bit small for my taste. It has many reflections. The rest of the footballers are correct to play in Austria, they are good. But the difference between one league and the other is very big, they are completely different leagues. Sturm Graz needs to give an incredible performance if he wants to beat Real. If the Real plays normal, they will not lose. I do not want to speak ill of Sturm, which I think has quality, but it is not enough to defeat Real Sociedad.
Not long ago Rapid Vienna faced West Ham United, led by former Real coach David Moyes …
–And we lost 2-0. It is that the difference between the two teams is very big. Rapid Vienna has a budget of around 30 million euros and the best player of that English team costs 70 million. Just one player costs more than double our budget. Although it is a difficult mission to beat teams of that size, I always think that we can win. Why not?
“Real are a much better team. Sturm Graz is a strong team, with quality, but they don’t have the same level as Real”
“I really like how this Real Sociedad plays and there is a very special player like Oyarzabal. Those players have a lot of heart”
“Their best player, Otar Kiteishvili, is injured and will not play. Stankovic, in the middle, and Yeboah, up, are playing well.”