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“I felt like my heart was being ripped out”


Twelve years ago, Manuel Neuer and his goalkeeper coach Toni Tapalovic moved from FC Schalke 04 to FC Bayern Munich. Tapalovic was still active as a goalkeeper with the Gelsenkircheners and was already a mentor for Neuer, who suffered a broken leg on a private ski tour in December and will probably not be available again until the coming season. However, Tapalovic, who was surprisingly released by FC Bayern almost two weeks ago, will then no longer be there.

In an interview with the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” published on Friday, Neuer commented on the separation for the first time and became very emotional. “He didn’t just work for me for eleven and a half years, but for everyone,” explained the 36-year-old. “It was a blow for me when I was already on the ground. I felt like my heart was being ripped out, it was the craziest thing I’ve experienced in my career.”

Tapalovic himself felt overwhelmed by the decision: “After more than a decade, my time at Bayern Munich ends surprisingly today,” wrote the 42-year-old on Instagram after his resignation. “In particular, differences about the way we work together have now led to us going our separate ways,” said sports director Hasan Salihamidzic. The club had previously signed Yann Sommer from Bundesliga club Borussia Mönchengladbach.

The apparently lacking neutrality of Tapalovic, who is also Neuer’s best man, in the goalkeeper question – in addition to Neuer and now Sommer, Sven Ulreich and Johannes Schenk are also employed in the Munich position – was one thing. In addition, the relationship between head coach Julian Nagelsmann and Tapalovic did not seem to have been the best. When Nagelsmann came to Bayern from RB Leipzig in 2021, he downgraded him, who had been promoted to assistant coach under Nagelsmann’s predecessor Hansi Flick, back to pure goalkeeping coach.

The story leaves Neuer with disappointment. But even without his long-time companion, he wants to fight his way back. He’s having fun working on his comeback. “There will be no damage,” assured Neuer, who also wants to continue his career in the national team. However, he must see how he will come back. “When the time comes, I’ll look in the mirror and tell myself the truth, like I always do. If I don’t perform, I’ll vacate the post. But don’t count on it!”