Arne Friedrich Was A World Cup Star. Now he Coaches. Here he is on What It Takes To Make It In Soccer and GFL’s Program in Berlin.
Youth Soccer News: Germany is highly acclaimed for their focus on developing youth soccer players and is one of the top countries in the world for soccer. Arne Friedrich is one of Germany’s former top players and he has coached his nation’s U18 National Team.
Arne Friedrich is a German football legend — the former defender played 82 times for the German National Team and was the Coach/Manager of Germany U18 National Team. This year, you might have seen Arne Friedrich on TV as an expert commentator on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The first choice for right back for his country, Arne Friedrich played for Germany in five major tournaments including the 2010 World Cup roster in South Africa. He started every match and was pivotal in Germany finishing third and became one of the best defenders of the World Cup and even scored his first goal for his country in the quarter-final against Argentina.
In both 2006 and 2010, he has received the Silver-Laurel-Leaf, which is the highest sports award in Germany. During the Euro 2008, Arne Friedrich helped Germany make it all the way to the final, where they lost to Spain. Before hanging up his pro cleats, he played for MLS’ Chicago Fire, earning the 2012 season’s Defender of the Year.
Arne Friedrich is a man players want to learn from. He has more knowledge to share and practical playing experiences than most men who ever walk on a youth soccer field.
Here is SoccerToday’s Interview with Arne Friedrich:
Diane Scavuzzo: You have just returned from Germany — you covered the FIFA World Cup and coached at the GFL Camp in Berlin. Can you tell us how the youth soccer program went?
Arne Friedrich: For the first time, we had the GFL summer camp in Berlin. I was able to lead the group and it was really nice. We worked on and off the field — it is important to educate the kids off the field too. Everything was fantastic and all the players and their families were very happy.
For me, it was a very good experience — there are so many things you have to think about besides the soccer field to make it a rewarding. Eddie Loewen, my partner at GFL, is an absolute professional.
Diane Scavuzzo: The camp was attended by boys and girls U11 through U18. What did the American players need the most?
Arne Friedrich: Soccer-wise there is always space for all players to improve.
For many American players, there is the need for work on the technical side. We worked on shape on the field as well — and all the players participated in presentations off the field as well. It was great to see all the players embrace the camp and take advantage of the program.
Diane Scavuzzo: Your international playing career kicked on when you were on the German U-21 team. What do you believe is the most important trait for an elite soccer player — if they want to be successful and become a professional soccer player?
Arne Friedrich: Being good at soccer is about decision-making.
Goal setting is also critical.
If you have a goal, you have to keep it in mind when you make daily decisions.
It is very easy to decide something and then not act accordingly. It can be really hard to always make the daily decisions to progress towards your goal.
And the basics are so important.
Even if you become a professional soccer player, you have to work on the basics all the time — even if it is annoying, then you really have to do it.
Players need to have discipline — if you just act according to how you feel, it is a huge trap as feelings are just emotions and you can’t really get better if you work when you are feeling good or when you are motivated.
If you want to make it, you have to have discipline, good decision making, and goal setting.
On the field, the first touch is very important and saves you a lot of time on the field, especially under pressure.
We want to hold two camps in Berlin in 2019 and also expand GFL and launch GFL West because I am planning on spending a lot of time in LA.
We have a plan to improve American soccer and youth soccer players.
Diane Scavuzzo: What needs to be improved the most in American soccer?
Arne Friedrich: Definitely the technical aspects of the youth players — and the player development system in America runs differently compared to Germany.
Diane Scavuzzo: What are the youth soccer players like in Germany? Are they really that much better than our American players”
Arne Friedrich: Right now, yes. Players need to compete on a high level to improve — this is why we set up friendly games in Germany, where you can really see the difference.
Competition is always very important.
Diane Scavuzzo: These friendly games are usually with top Bundesliga youth teams, right? Like Schalke 04?
Yes. Competition is always very important. We want to provide the best environment possible with the highest level of competition.
In these games, you can see the differences. Youth soccer players in America are physically strong but it is more about the technique to be a success in soccer, especially if you want to become a professional.
The next GFL Trip is to MUNICH 2018
Traveling Dates: November 16th. Arriving November 17th. Returning home November 26th, 2018