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Tapalovic: A chance I couldn't turn down

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Tapalovic: A chance I couldn't turn down

Postby FCBayernNews » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:40 pm

Toni Tapalovic could still be keeping goal himself, because 30 is relatively young for a professional footballer, and especially a goalkeeper. However, Tapalovic spends his time on the field in front of the goal these days, shooting with left and right, and occasionally bouncing a ball at the goalposts. The man between the sticks is Manuel Neuer, jumping and diving all the time, although the only sound is the occasional gasp as the Germany goalkeeper sucks in breath. Otherwise, it is quiet and the concentration is intense.

Tapalovic joined Bayern two weeks ago as goalkeeping coach. "I'm delighted to be here. I've been made to feel very welcome, and it's truly a family atmosphere," he informed The 30-year-old was still playing just a few weeks ago, as he was on the books with Mainz as number three goalkeeper, and turned out regularly for the reserve team until rupturing a cruciate ligament last October. He could have stayed on as a player in Mainz for this season, "and that's what head coach Thomas Tuchel wanted," he revealed. Instead, Bayern came in for his services.

Manuel Neuer, who was with Tapalovic at Schalke from 2006-9, suggested his former team-mate for FCB. "Naturally, I also took up references," Jupp Heynckes explained, "and I only heard positive things. I also came away from a personal chat at my house with a very good impression. He explained his ideas to me, and I was much taken with them. I think he'll be a good fit to us, both because of his expertise and his personality."

Once the offer arrived in writing, Tapalovic did not need long to consider his response. "It was obvious I was going to do it. You don't get a chance like this twice, so you can't turn it down," said the 30-year-old, who always planned to become a goalkeeping coach after he finished playing. "But the fact it happened so quickly is as much a surprise to me as it is to everyone else."

The perfect fit

While at Schalke, Tapalovic gained an early taste of life as a coach by working with the youth and reserve team keepers. "And he worked with me individually, something I really liked," Neuer explained, "Toni basically thinks the same way as I do. He's simply the right guy for me." The reverse is true: "We learned the trade the same way," Tapalovic said.

Part of that particular goalkeeping school sees the shot-stoppers playing a full part in team training much more frequently than in the past. At the Trentino training camp, Neuer, Jörg Butt and Rouven Sattelmaier were often involved in the outfield players' passing exercises. "I think it's very important," commented Tapalovic, "you practice passing, which builds up a relationship with the rest of the team. And in any case, that kind of exercise is fun for the keepers."

Sure of his trade

For the new FCB goalkeeping coach, good passing is only one of the many attributes a goalkeeper requires in the modern game. "Actually, he needs to do everything: on crosses, saving shots, in one-on-one situations, and with the ball at his feet," he explained, "the goalkeeper needs to be a very tidy footballer."

Tapalovic has set himself the task of instilling these abilities in his charges from now on. He is not intimidated by the fact he is employed by Germany's biggest club. "Everything is on a slightly larger scale here, but I know what I'm doing, and I'll do my work to the best of my ability, helping the goalkeepers to improve."
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