The 1. FC koln is omnipresent in the springer household: the skyline of the rhine metropolis hangs as a mural above the television in the living room, the three children were all born in koln and are FC fans. The forchheimer played there for eight years, and from 1998 to 2006 he experienced sporting successes as well as low blows. Three times he was promoted, three times he was relegated, it was the wild kolscher years in the elevator between the upper and lower divisions. The 46-year-old has long since returned to his francophone homeland and coaches the spvgg jahn forchheim in the bavarian league. But the FC does not let him go – just now, as the "effzeh" standing at the bottom of the table with only three points.
Mr. Springer, when you look at the bundesliga table: how rough is the pressure of suffering??
Christian springer: the heart bleeds, no question about it. It’s the first season in a long time that I’m emotionally closer to the FC again, hooked by reaching the europa league. Club and city, all have longed to be allowed to present themselves again in europe after 25 years. The fact that thousands of fans went to the first game in london without tickets is crazy, but underlines the desire to show that the rough FC is back. In my time, we were as far away from international success as we were from the moon, and in all those years it was just a matter of survival. And now follows such a season of extreme, that is really bitter.
Now, with the 0:1 in belgrade, the european league exit came. Well played, again no goal scored. Symptomatic of this season?
A decision had to be made long ago, where the focus is: bundesliga or europe. In the DFB cup is koln also still there. It is difficult to do justice to all three competitions, especially in this situation with all the failures and injuries. The bundesliga-spiel on sunday against freiburg is enormously important, now one has left in belgrade but again korner, the recovery time is too short there. The strategy is currently missing, and someone who communicates it clearly to auben. The old FC shines through. One had the successes in europa and in the cup herausstellen and also say that a relegation from the bundesliga is an accident that can be repaired.
With armin veh the FC has a new sport director, with stefan ruthenbeck a new coach…
We can only wish them both good luck. In koln it is difficult to work, the pressure from auben is immense, now even more so. The media are getting sharper again. You have to be able to deal with that, also the players. I had a lot of players in my FC days who failed miserably in their first year. You have to talk a lot, with the fans, with the press, and not take it too seriously. Whoever survives the first season at FC has actually already won. One has seen that with lukas podolski, there the management had intervened fast, from the beginning a marketing machine was behind it. Since performances were also times more positively evaluated than they were.
"Prince poldi is now a living FC legend, gothic like no other. You have accompanied the beginnings of his career…
I sometimes get teased by my kids that he’s much better than me, he was a national player, I never was. Poldi is of course their idol, I see it relaxed. At that time he was still very young and came to us as a youth player in 2003/04. At the age of 18, he didn’t have the standing in the team, of course, but he already had a certain flair for scoring goals. Despite his ten goals, we were relegated to the bottom of the table, but in the following season he shot us back into the bundesliga. I still remember how he was literally chased in the home game against energie cottbus. Matthias scherz and I have shielded him, he needed support and should not wear himself out in these skirmishes. That’s what we were there for.
Three times they have been relegated with koln. Which way to the 2nd bundesliga?. League was the most bitter?
The relegation in itself is not the problem, it is more like a draw. The bad thing is the months before with the constant failures. That makes so many things difficult – training, social behavior in the dressing room. A relegation is only the final point, more serious is to have had no success for a year and to go into the new season with this feeling. We always started a new season the way the old one ended. It didn’t matter whether we were relegated or promoted.
Along with matthias scherz, dirk lottner and carsten cullmann, you were one of the constants in these difficult years and have always remained loyal to the club. Were they going to do anything differently in retrospect?
Maybe I have to reproach myself for thinking too seldom about myself, especially at such a rough club like FC. There is a portion of selfishness. I didn’t have a fixed position, although I clearly felt on the "six" in the defensive midfield. But then I played as a left defender, in left midfield or as a central defender – positions where I was on fire, but where I lacked security and rhythm. Holes simply had to be plugged. I didn’t want to hurt the collective, always saw myself as a team player and played where the coach put me up. You just have to take yourself back, I thought. Today I judge it a little differently: I should have insisted more clearly on the position in the defensive midfield, even if I had sat on the bench for the time being. I fell for the coaches, you lose a little of your own identity to internalize the current philosophy of the coach and his system. But that was probably the main reason why I was able to play eight years in koln under eight different coaches.
The longing to get to know a new city and a new club never existed?
At the very beginning, in the winter of 1998/99, I had expressed the desire to leave again. It was a very difficult second league season, which we only finished in 10th place. Bernd schuster was the coach at the time, a charismatic, surrounded by the breeze of the big wide world. And a good story-teller, like how he shared a room with diego maradona at FC barcelona and more or less had to lock him up. As a player, however, I did not get along with schuster. Things changed after that under ewald lienen. I can also only say good things about friedhelm funkel and huub stevens. In 2004, i was on the verge of signing a two-year contract with spvgg greuther furth. At that time my family was not yet ready to return to france. We felt very comfortable in koln, so I extended for a year – and then again.
My career came to an end at the age of 35. Because the body did not want more?
I have had the good fortune never to have suffered a serious injury over many years. My ankle, however, had caused me permanent problems. First and foremost, it was injuries from training, where things were rougher than during games. There the referee intervenes if necessary. You have to go all the way to protect your job value. 2005/2006 I played in constant pain. Then my intervertebral discs started to show. Playing every day with painkillers is tiring and for me it’s a sign: enough is enough. There were still offers from paderborn and saarbrucken, but I have turned them down.
And then returned to forchheim…
If you count the time at FC st. Pauli added, I was away for 13 years, a long time. Since I worked in the company of a friend in frankfurt after my career, I was commuting anyway. The decision to move back to forchheim was therefore only obvious. The children have grandma and grandpa here, and we have a house. At home it is just already the most.
About the person
Birthday: 15. July 1971
stations as a player: 1989 to december 1990: jahn forchheim / january 1991 to 1992: TSV vestenbergsgreuth / 1992 to 1993: SC 08 bamberg / 1993 to december 1994: jahn forchheim / january 1995 to 1998: 1. FC st. Pauli / 1998 to 2006: 1. FC colon
stations as coach: 2014 to 2016: spvgg greuther furth (co-coach, U19-bundesliga). Since march 2017: coach of spvgg jahn forchheim (bayernliga)
games as a professional: 163 appearances (18 goals) in the 1. Bundesliga as well as 131 appearances (19 goals) in the 2. Bundesliga
former teammates, u.A: lukas podolski, ralph hasenhuttl, claus-dieter wollitz, dirk schuster, matthias scherz, dirk lottner, maniche, dorinel munteanu, markus proll, moses sichone, jens keller, ivica grlic, lilian laslandes, rigobert song, francis kioyo, markus feulner, jorg heinrich, albert streit, andriy voronin, christian lell