Professionals | 13/08/2019

300 times on the bench

Kessler: "The number makes me proud"

In the Pokal game against Wiesbaden, Thomas Kessler was on the bench for the 300th time as an 1. FC Köln professional. In an interview with FC Kess speaks about his milestone, his work in the team council and his successor as treasurer was ihm das Jubiläum bedeutet, spricht über seine Arbeit im Mannschaftsrat – und seinen Nachfolger als Kassenwart.

Kess, in the cup game against Wiesbaden, you were on the bench for the 300th time against Wiesbaden as an 1. FC Köln player. You said that this milestone is something special for you. Why?

If you take into account the seasons in where I was loaned out, I’ve been nominated for a Bundesliga squad – or what feels like a Bundesliga team – more than 350 times. I haven’t counted along with it, but I was confronted with the number and find that it’s something out of the ordinary. It’s not the usual statistic that you see and you can be proud of it.

Despite that, every footballer wants to play.

Yes, me too. But being a goalkeeper, you know that you’re not normally going to be brought off the bench. There are lots of outfield players who have 300 games under their belt and were brought on 180 times. As an outfielder, I would definitely have been brought more often, but I don’t think it’s to be taken for granted, to have held the position of second-choice goalkeeper for so long. In the past, I’ve always shown that I can do it when called upon. That’s also a reason why the 300 stands with me alone at 1. FC Köln.

This season, you were voted into the team council. What does that mean to you? And what sort of meaning does this role carry in the team?

First of all, it’s important that the other boys know they can come to me at any point. I’m happy to be one of the leaders in the squad. I’m experienced a hell of a lot here, not just in the club but also in this city. I believe, that I can help the young and new players with the experiences that I’ve gathered. At the moment, when we discuss things in the team council that are important for the team, it’s always good to share that burden. But it’s not the case, that the team council decides everything. There are also a lot of players in the squad who have a lot of experience and important roles within the team. It’s a nice to have been voted into the team council – but it’s not about that, it’s about the team.

That sounds like you get together for brunch every Wednesday in a conference room of a hotel.

Yea, we normally do that on Sundays with brunch and a view onto the Dom (laughs). No, obviously not. When something happens, then we quickly speak with one another. We have a WhatsApp group where we can quickly come together when a decision needs to be made. That doesn’t always have to about training, but can also be private things.

What are the topics?

At the beginning of the season, of course, team bonuses are an issue. Otherwise, it's about things that just open up in the course of a season. After all, as in any other profession, there are internal discussions. And when players come to us, we can also be the link between player and coach. Especially with young players, this is enormously important that they can get some advice on one or two topics. And if new players ask questions about the city or the surrounding area, we are there to help and advise. For example, I met Ellyes (Skhiri, ed.) last week at an Italian restaurant, so we had a quick exchange. Of course, I offered to let him know when he needed something or wanted to know something, that I’m there.

This summer, you handed over the office of the treasurer to Lasse Sobiech.

Exactly. I've done that for seven years now and I got the impression that this position needed a new impulse (laughs). It's also exhausting to be the one who watches the times and talks and discusses with people. I said I do that while I'm here and until I find someone who can be my successor. And with Lasse as a choice, I am very satisfied. Lasse, for me, is a guy who is perfect for this role. I had to talk to him for a few days and there was also a little persuasion necessary, as Jonas (Hector) contributed his part.

What makes a good treasurer?

That he radiates authority. When punishments are handed out, they are also collected. There is no discussion. There, one has to carry a certain weight in the team. We have a code of conduct - and if you do not comply, you will be asked to pay.

What kind of things does it include?

It's about punctuality, being too late for food, appointments, physio. To deal with the training matters – when a mobile phone rings, bus trips - everything you can imagine.

What happens at the end of the season with the money from the fines?

We go out for dinner together. Or we donate the money, for example to the children's hospital.

At the weekend, the Bundesliga begins. At the start, no-one really knows where they stand. How do you rate FC’s current situation with your experience?

I believe that we’re got a good pre-season behind us. In the Pokal, our game didn’t reflect what we’ve worked on for parts. We’re already clearly spoken about that. We know exactly where we need to change things around in order to be successful on Saturday. Being in the Bundesliga as a promoted team is always exciting. With Wolfsburg, we have a team who deservedly qualified for Europe last season. There has already been enough talk about our first few fixtures. We’re just glad that things are starting again. That’s the Bundesliga. That where we want to be and that’s where FC belong.

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