I knew that it would be over if he scored; there would only have been two minutes left. So I had to make myself as big as possible and get hit, no matter where. The most important thing was that the ball didn’t go in. To be honest, it also takes luck that he hit me and not five centimetres to the left or to the right.
I don’t know if it was my best, but maybe one of the most important. And there was no feeling, actually. You know there is no second leg to turn the result around. It’s finite. Either you go home with this cup or you go home with some pats on the back and that’s it. So the feeling of being in a final is unbelievable. It’s a great feeling, but the feeling after a save is that you have to focus on the next situation, next situation and next situation – and focus again. I knew it wasn’t over and that probably the penalty shoot-out would follow. I had prepared myself for that. Even the penalty that I saved, I watched it afterwards; there was nothing. I didn’t feel a single emotion. I held the penalty kick, stepped out of the goal and thought, “OK, next one?”
I had to tell myself, “OK, this is the decisive goal in this shoot-out. As Rafael stood there, I gave him the ball and said to him, “Make history!” I’m not even sure he understood, or if I said it loud enough for him to hear me… When he scored, it took me a couple of seconds to realise that we had actually made it. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Where should I run first? How do I celebrate? I thought I might start to cry. So at first I was sort of paralysed, then everyone ran onto the pitch and I started feeling this realisation of “Yes, we did it!”
It’s in our DNA that it is difficult to play against us. We want to be known for something. As a team we want to be uncomfortable to play against, a team that never gives up. These are the basic virtues in football. Everything that we achieved last season is almost forgotten, but we have to keep that in mind.
I’m afraid I have to say that I haven’t been in Frankfurt that much after the victory. Driving through the city in that motorcade, surrounded by 200,000 people with whom we could celebrate; that moment on the Römer when we held up the cup – we’ll never forget that. But afterwards I had to leave for the national team and then I went on holiday for three weeks. But what I noticed in other countries was that a lot of people came up to me and were amazed by what we did. That truly made me proud. And now, walking through Frankfurt, everyone tells their story, how they experienced our victory. That is really, really nice.
It’s not so much about placing it on an individual’s shoulders. We have players with a lot of experience, and obviously I’m one of them with my career and my age. My primary task is to perform on the pitch and help the team, but also to ensure that the others know that I’m someone who they can talk to about anything.
Very! It’s pure joy and you just notice the mood in the area, in the club and in the team. We’re happy about what we’ve achieved but we’re not standing in awe of it now and thinking, “Wow, we’re in the Champions League, it’s going to be difficult.” It’s something we’ve earned – we won a European title.