The BVB championship in 1995 was a special one for the club. Bodo Schmidt recalls in an interview about his active time in Dortmund.
Today, June 17th, the BVB championship of 1995 is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Borussia Dortmund had to wait 32 years for the fourth German championship. The battle for the shell was decided after a dramatic end-of-season sprint on the last match day. Dortmund center-back Bodo Schmidt remembers.
Interview with goal and SPOX The 52-year-old talks about a wheat beer for Klaus Augenthaler, his unusual rejection of Uli Hoeneß and the initially unsuccessful trial training at BVB.
Schmidt also looks back on the greatest intoxication of his time in Dortmund, Julio Cesar’s tears and his anger at Jürgen Kohler’s transfer.
Mr. Schmidt, before looking into the past, first one into the present. Is it true that you recently stopped coaching your home club TSV Rot-Weiß Niebüll, where you have been on the sidelines since 2015?
Bodo Schmidt: Yes. After the end of the season, I led my last training session at the end of May and celebrated a little farewell with enough space outside.
Bodo Schmidt: Football has shaped my life since I was little. Immediately after the end of my career, I became a player coach at Flensburg 08 and was then coach of SV Frisia 03 Risum-Lindholm for eight years. I have now recognized signs of wear and hope to be able to spend my free time on the weekend. I never say never, but for now that’s the end of my career as a coach.
You have been working full-time as a physiotherapist for 13 years and since you separated from your wife, who also works in this profession, in your own practice in Niebüll. What is your everyday life like there?
Bodo Schmidt: I previously worked in my wife’s practice and have now joined an independent colleague as an equal partner in January. It’s going well, we have a lot to do. I am in the practice for many hours and treat the patients there in the classic way. It’s a lot of fun for me.
Bodo Schmidt: “I just had to kick well there”
Why physiotherapist at all?
Bodo Schmidt: Since I switched directly to FC Bayern after graduating from high school, I never completed conventional vocational training. After the end of my career, I had two children in the meantime, I wanted to settle down and therefore not stay in paid football. My wife had become self-employed as a physiotherapist and since I was very interested in the training anyway, I did it for three years. So we were able to work together afterwards.
You owe the fact that you made the leap into professional football over 30 years ago to an unthinkable story today: From Niebüll in the far north of Germany, you ended up in 1987 with the amateurs of FC Bayern, where Fritz Bischoff became coach, under whom you previously played in the state selection of Schleswig-Holstein played. How big was the culture shock in Munich?
Bodo Schmidt: It was a difference like day and night. I played in my home town with 10,000 inhabitants in normal youth teams. Schleswig-Holstein is actually total wasteland in football, hardly anyone can get out of it. It was like a crazy dream when I packed two sports bags in my old cart and went to Munich. I was 19 and had nothing to lose with my high school diploma in my pocket. I just had to kick well there. So my motto was: Just go ahead and step on the gas.
How did you fare privately in the new environment?
Bodo Schmidt: I initially lived on Säbener Straße and found a bizarre mix of people my age who came from different regions of Germany. For example, Thomas Kastenmaier, who later played in Gladbach for many years, was there. We made Munich unsafe, you can say that. We were also unknown and were able to enjoy the advantages of the city, especially the beer garden mentality. (laughs) It was a fun time that was not exclusively shaped by football. Above all, it was not so targeted. At the time, I had no firm belief that I absolutely had to become a professional footballer.
They ran in the Bayern League, which would correspond to the 3rd division today, quickly became top performers and were allowed to train with the professionals under Jupp Heynckes a year later together with players like Lothar Matthäus. Didn’t you have to pinch yourself more often after you were just out in the depths of amateur football?
🔙 25 years ago today, the #BVB in a dramatic title race on the final day of the #BundesligaSeason 94/95 with 2: 0 against HSV and was crowned German champion again after 32 years. 🤩 #OnThisDay pic.twitter.com/8n6UHWz2eu
– Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) June 17, 2020
Bodo Schmidt: On the one hand, because it was very unreal. On the other hand, you can quickly get into the whole process if you do it there.
How did the pros go back then?
Bodo Schmidt: As an amateur player you were quickly brought back to the floor and kept small in the hierarchy. Oliver Gensch was a light-footed striker and once shot Matthew in the leg. After that he smiled a little too much and was then kicked off the pitch, but that was accepted. It was just a matter of proving and asserting yourself. I quickly understood that and defended myself accordingly, which was then recognized. I also remember how we drove to a friendly game. We sat head down in the back row and just didn’t want to be noticed. Klaus Augenthaler was crouched at the card players’ table and waved to us somehow until I realized that he meant me. I went and he just said: ‘Give me a wheat beer in the back of the kitchen.’ I then did that and brought it to him.
When did you realize that you have a good chance of earning your money as a professional soccer player?
Bodo Schmidt: In the second year of Bavaria. The proximity to the professionals grew and other clubs became aware of me. Everything has become much more present for me, so I thought it was actually pretty cool. The SpVgg Unterhaching then worked on me very intensively and presented me with a professional contract. That was of course something very special. Uli Hoeneß also offered me a professional contract, but I preferred to go to Haching because I wanted to play week after week. Then he said: ‘Not so many have dared to do so yet.’ (laughs)
The change in Unterhaching occurred in the 1989/90 season. You made your professional debut with the former second division promoters, but relegated from the bottom of the table and then kicked there for another season. How surprised were you that BVB then offered you a trial training session?
Bodo Schmidt: I had played a decent first season despite being relegated and was voted one of the top defenders in the league in the relevant rankings. My teammate Edmund Stöhr, who played for Hertha BSC for a long time, was then making his football coach – together with Edwin Boekamp and Michael Skibbe from BVB. He recommended the two of them and they thought, then let’s have a look.
They came to Dortmund in 1991 at the same time as Ottmar Hitzfeld. The audition took place under his predecessor Horst Köppel. How did it work?
Bodo Schmidt: Köppel was still a coach, but it was clear that he would leave the club. But there was no talk of Hitzfeld. I trained for a few days and Köppel said I looked good, but he couldn’t make a decision anymore. When assistant coach Michael Henke drove me to my hotel after training, he said succinctly: ‘Actually we don’t need a defender at all.’ Then I thought to myself: What am I doing here?
Bodo Schmidt: “Chapuisat was Hitzfeld’s absolute dream player”
And how did it work?
Bodo Schmidt: I have to say that I had a signed contract from Fortuna Cologne before the training in Dortmund. However, I said to long-time President Jean Löring that I still want to train at BVB. He gave me a deadline by which I had to choose. Ultimately, I trained in Dortmund one day longer than planned and after they couldn’t make a decision there, I called Löring and agreed.
Bodo Schmidt: He replied dryly: ‘Your deadline expired at midnight last night – we are now eight in the morning. I don’t work with people like that, you can’t get a contract here. ‘ Haching really wanted to keep me, but suddenly I actually had nothing. When Hitzfeld finally became BVB coach, Stephane Chapuisat was his absolute dream player. And then, as it were, the then foreigner rule came into effect. BVB already had two in the squad in Flemming Povlsen and Sergej Gorlukowitsch and more were not allowed to be in the starting XI. Since Gorlukowitsch was a defender, it was said: there was still the guy from Unterhaching. (laughs)
Suddenly you were a professional in the Bundesliga. Did that still feel unreal despite the previous experience?
Bodo Schmidt: It went really fast for me. Of course, I often thought how all this could happen. But if you are part of this level, you will be taught quickly: Who does not give everything, flies out. I was totally motivated, also because BVB was a completely different number than FC Bayern in terms of mood. There was passion beyond measure. The manager at the time, Michael Meier, said to me in advance: ‘Anyone who signs a contract here must be aware that he will always stay Borussia once he has become Borussia. This is a religion here. ‘ And that was true.
Your time at Borussia got off to a good start: on the first Bundesliga match day in 1991/92, you were already in the starting XI against Karlsruhe.
Bodo Schmidt: Before the game, I went to masseuse Hannes Weinheimer in the evening and asked if he could knead me again. He was very indignant and said: ‘Hömma, my boy, first you have to play here, then you can also be kneaded.’ I then went back to my room. The next day at breakfast, Hitzfeld told me that I was playing from the start. At noon the masseur came running to me and apologized, even though neither he nor I knew what was going on the previous evening.
Afterwards, they did not make it four times before their second game and promptly the first goal as a professional followed on matchday 6 against Dresden – and that as a substitute in just 13 minutes. How do you remember this goal for the 4-0 final result?
Bodo Schmidt: That was of course a highlight. A few days earlier I was as proud as Oskar to have played a Bundesliga game and suddenly I was even a goal scorer. I hit the ball incredibly well, it went right into the corner.
In September 1992, you made your international debut in an away game against FC Floriana in Malta – another milestone in your career?
Bodo Schmidt: Exactly, it was my first game abroad. The conditions were absolutely catastrophic, we had to kick on a dry meadow. Most of all, what I associate with it: The Bodo Schmidt Fan Club was founded there! A couple of fans who had traveled with me intercepted me in front of the team hotel, introduced myself and explained to me that they found me quite well. The fan club was there for years. We also took care of it and I visited her at Christmas parties, for example.
“Hansch wasn’t the most popular with us”
After 14 competitive games in the first season, you increased significantly next year and played 43 games – including the UEFA Cup final lost to Juventus Turin in 1993 and away. How did Hitzfeld come to rely so much on you?
Bodo Schmidt: He has always placed value on a healthy mix of different types of players in his squad. We also played at high risk. Later with Matthias Sammer, who was everywhere in the field, but never where he was assigned. Hitzfeld appreciated that I kept my back on the artists. I was little injured and thrown myself into all duels. This constant resilience and assertiveness was certainly my greatest strength.
In the following season you finally had your most personally successful year, which ended dramatically after a 32-year break with the fourth German championship for BVB. They came in third in the squad, played all of their 30 games from the start and were on the pitch 28 times over the full 90 minutes.
Bodo Schmidt: It was really a fantastic season for us and for me. I was in top shape, worked out my place and was able to defend myself against my competitors. We also benefited from the fact that we were usually able to play with the same well-established team.
As a central defender, you appeared less aggressively. However, your only goal participation this season was impressive: It was the template for the 3-2 victory of Andreas Möller in the derby against Schalke – with a strong pass into the alley. Werner Hansch commented at the time: “Bodo Schmidt – what is he doing up there?”
Bodo Schmidt: I had noticed that later. Hansch was not the most popular with us because he was always a Schalke fan in disguise. I actually did not play a good game in this derby and also contributed to conceding a goal. This is how it works in football: Sometimes you do something good, sometimes you are the pug. Sometimes even within a game.
Speaking of Möller: The so-called “protection swallow” in the game against KSC on match day 26 was not only the reason why BVB was able to turn this game into a victory, but also sparked great controversy. You weren’t in the squad at the time. How did you follow the game?
Bodo Schmidt: Unfortunately, I just know too little about that. I’m sorry. I was definitely in the stadium and saw the scene somewhere in the interior, probably near the bench. I can think of that now. And of course that afterwards there was a big and long riot in the press. In any case, Möller had a reputation among players as falling quickly and being self-pitying. For us he was an excellent player – and until today he was the only one who was banned due to a swallow.
Image: Imago Images / press photo Baumann
Bodo Schmidt about setbacks in the season finale
This season Dortmund confidently secured the autumn championship from competitor Werder Bremen. But in the second half of the season, there were only three victories between the 20th and 29th matchday, making it incredibly exciting again. To make matters worse, top scorer Chapuisat tore the cruciate ligament before matchday 22 after a training foul by assistant coach Henke. What had happened there
Bodo Schmidt: Really? That is blatant. With the best will in the world, I don’t have that in my head either. I only remember that Henke always took part in the training and I once gave him a ligament tear. Chappi’s season end was a big blow for all of us. He was an incredible bitch in front of the gate and just a guy that everyone liked.
You shared a room with him throughout your five-year period at BVB. He was considered a very shy and reserved contemporary. How did you experience him in your own four walls?
Bodo Schmidt: We ended up in the same room by chance because we came to the club at the same time. In the hotel we often played cards with Povlsen and Stefan Reuter. Chappi was really very calm and polite. But there was a huge difference when he was on the pitch. There he was really uncomfortable, he always fought back and worked with all tricks. A pretty disgusting striker for the opponents.
After BVB lost the away game, which had been declared decisive for the championship, on Matchday 29 in Bremen 1: 3 and was now only second, the cruciate ligament also broke with Chapuisat’s striker colleague Karl-Heinz Riedle before Matchday 31. The baby storm around Lars Ricken and Ibrahim Tanko was born. The Dortmund area had then buried almost all hopes. Did you still believe in the title?
Bodo Schmidt: Clear. These were clearly setbacks, but we were so close and all remained very focused on the goal. In addition, Ricken and Tanko were highly traded and talented players. We were mentally stable, had previously demonstrated a strong mentality and the will to win within us. We came back a few times even after the arrears. I think these two negative experiences may have made us even a little stronger.
BVB only drew on match days 31 and 32 and were already 0-2 behind the relegated team at Duisburg on match day 33 before turning the game around and winning 3-2. Were you still mentally stable after the 2: 0 of the MSV in the 51st minute?
Bodo Schmidt: It was definitely a shock moment. Over the course of my career, I’ve noticed that this is exactly the difference: if you are down there and 0-2 behind, you can hardly get it turned. If you stand up, you still believe in it – and that’s how it was with us. For me that was more of a masterpiece than the last game against Hamburg.
In this one went one point behind Werder. Bremen played in Munich, where SVW coach Otto Rehhagel hired in the following season. Werder lost 1-3, Dortmund beat HSV 2-0 – and was actually the champion. How was it?
Bodo Schmidt: There was huge tension and anticipation before the kick-off. Our early gates were therefore redemption. We were not explicitly informed, but as the mood became more and more exuberant, we knew that things were going as planned in Munich. After the final whistle all dams then literally broke. That was one of the unforgettable moments of my life.
Image: Imago Images / Werek
When the championship bowl was handed over, the grass of the Westphalia Stadium was full of people. How long did it take you to be in the cabin?
Bodo Schmidt: I think we were briefly in the locker room before the ceremony to save ourselves from the crowds. I remember Julio Cesar sitting in the cabin wing crying tears of happiness. Shortly thereafter, space was created in the stadium and we came out again. When the bowl was finally stretched up, the order was gone again and it went haywire. Therefore we were back in the cabin relatively quickly.
The next day, the team drove through the city in a truck and was cheered by 500,000 blissful fans. What exactly did the program look like after the final whistle?
Bodo Schmidt: We celebrated in a Dortmund hotel for a very long time and then moved through the city. The night was very short because we had to be back at the meeting point early on Sunday. It then took a while until you were fresh again. But the enthusiasm that was felt in all the pores of the city kept you awake. We only celebrated a total of two or three days, in the end we were completely spit out. It was the greatest intoxication of my time in Dortmund. (laughs)
They were also part of another legendary Westfalenstadion moment this season in December 1994. In the second leg of the second leg of the UEFA Cup against Deportivo La Coruna, you prepared the decisive 3-1 in the 119th minute, which has since been linked exclusively to scorer Lars Ricken. How do you think about it?
Bodo Schmidt: After the game there were incredible emotions. Now I get goosebumps. We had equalized in extra time and only scored the 2-1 in the 116th minute. I still remember how Sammer ran with joy afterwards like a man gone wild. A mishap happened to me full of euphoria later. When I wanted to drive home at night, I drove our club doctor into the car at the stadium car park. ‘Never mind, we’ll sort out the days,’ he just said. (laughs)
Shortly before the decisive goal, they came into conflict with an opponent because the latter did not keep a free kick from Sammer. Seconds later, you lured the ball exactly from this opponent, tumbled past four or five people and cheered even before Ricken had placed your assist in the goal. Do you still have the scene in your head?
Bodo Schmidt: Naturally. My passport to Lars was also wanted – even very wanted! Even if only a few of the team did that for me. The reason why I cheered was simply that Lars was always so cold-eyed at the end.
Bodo Schmidt about Jürgen Kohler: “Was disappointed and upset”
One season after the championship you made your debut in the Champions League and the next cup win, but only 23 competitive games. New signing Jürgen Kohler took over your place. You were apparently promised that he would not move to Dortmund at all. what happened there?
Bodo Schmidt: I asked Manager Meier what the rumors were. He said there was a thought, but that was actually all off the table and would not happen. I relied on that, went on vacation and found out about this transfer. Of course I was disappointed and upset, which I also announced. Meier also apologized for this and said that he hadn’t seen it coming. I took that away from him because he is a very honest person. President Gerd Niebaum was probably very committed to this change. Meier then gave me his word that I would get the approval if I wanted to change. Kohler was a great guy and international. It was therefore clear that he had to and will play. It was difficult for me to come up against him. And since that was how it developed, one season later I was quite willing to change.
In 1996 you finally went to 1. FC Köln for two years. After an intermezzo with the North Rhine upper division club SCB Preussen Köln you signed for the regional league team 1. FC Magdeburg for four years at the end of 1998 and after the forced relegation of the FCM you ended your career at home with Flensburg 08 in 2002. What is your contact with BVB like today?
Bodo Schmidt: There is almost no contact with former teammates, I’m hundreds of kilometers away. That’s why I haven’t been to the stadium in a while. I will be in the coming season because I have promised it to a friend. Dortmund is a part of my past that was a long time ago and that’s okay with me. But I am very interested in BVB games.
We still have to talk about two special features: In Dortmund, your name will not be easily forgotten not only because of the successes at the time, but also because of a legendary foul on Leverkusen’s striker Ulf Kirsten in February 1994. They almost kicked him at midline into the player tunnel, where he slid over a manhole cover, tore his leg open and seriously injured.
Bodo Schmidt: I was asked about this scene for a very long time. The tragedy of this duel on the outside line was that the ball was already close to the side. I didn’t see that and therefore pulled the tackle. Kirsten had already switched off and no longer expected that I would mow him to the side. He then had to go to the hospital, I was so sorry. We called each other the next day and he accepted my apology. He was a player who also gave a lot, so it was easy to talk to him.
And: you once revealed that you were always on the far right in the top row of team photos so that you could finish signing autographs faster. How did you get it?
Bodo Schmidt: By Thomas Helmer. He had shown me how much time he saved with it. All he had to do was grab the posters at the top right corner and then take them out and sign them, take them out and sign them. When he left the club after my first season, I was just standing up there. (laughs)