Bayer Leverkusen's Xabi Alonso is the third man to win a Bundesliga-DFB Cup double as a player and coach. - © Stuart Franklin
Bayer Leverkusen's Xabi Alonso is the third man to win a Bundesliga-DFB Cup double as a player and coach. - © Stuart Franklin

Bayer Leverkusen's Xabi Alonso: "We deserved to win the double"


Xabi Alonso and his players spoke with real pride after their Bayer Leverkusen team overcame Odilon Kossounou's first-half sending off to edge past Bundesliga 2's Kaiserslautern and add the 2023/24 DFB Cup to their maiden Bundesliga title. rounds up the match reaction...

Relive the 2023/24 DFB Cup final here!

Bayer Leverkusen

Xabi Alonso (head coach): "We all fought well with a man down - for the club, fans, coaches and players themselves. We spoke at half-time, and injected more pace into the game. It was a real team performance. The most important thing was the belief of the players. They were ready to fight and did it brilliantly. I'm really proud. The double is totally deserved, it's a massive success story. I need a bit more time to appreciate just how good a season it was. Now we have to enjoy it. Every player played his part, and that was very important for me."

Simon Rolfes (sporting director): "Obviously, it was tough. You can't dominate a game [with 10 men], but we had chances, controlled the game and deserved to win. We haven't really celebrated yet [this season], but today the celebrations will last a bit longer."

Watch: Hrádecký - "It's like a fairytale"

Granit Xhaka (midfielder): "It was my first DFB Cup final, and first DFB Cup goal. We invested a lot to be here. I couldn't be happier. We had to stand up and be counted again after [losing the Europa League final]. Now we have a lot of celebrating to do together. Every loss hurts, especially in a final, but the coach and club said we have to get back up again. We gave it everything and delivered again."

Lukáš Hrádecký (goalkeeper/ captain): "I've got goosebumps. At the start of the season, none of us thought we'd win the double. It's nice to put [the defeat to Atalanta] behind us by winning the double. It was important to cap it off, given the [Neverkusen] history of the club. We really wanted to end the season on a high. Nothing comes for free in life. The red card made the game difficult, but we fought our way through and deserved to win. I won't forget this. We'll celebrate today, and celebrate tomorrow. It's time to enjoy it."

Robert Andrich (midfielder): "It's amazing. There's been a lot on the TV, a lot has been said, but it's just an amazing feeling. We accepted the game turned after the sending off, but we gave away just two or three shots. We could have made it 2-0 before that, too. Of course, I'm really happy for my old team Heidenheim [for qualifying for Europe as a result]. I didn't think about it before the game, but I'm happy we were able to help them."

Jonas Hofmann (midfielder): "It's indescribable. It's just as beautiful now as it was immediately after the final whistle. It's cool to lift the next trophy and now we're looking forward to the (celebrations this) evening."  

Watch: Leverkusen - 2023/24 double winners!

Fernando Carro (CEO): "We suffered a lot. The red card at the end of the first half meant that the second half wasn't easy. I think the players did an excellent job - we deserved to win. We showed real spirit, everyone fought hard. It was richly deserved in the end. It's a nice consolation after we couldn't win in Dublin on Wednesday. We've won the double. We're very happy."


Friedhelm Funkel (head coach): "We're obviously disappointed that we didn't manage to equalise, but I'm proud of how my team acquitted themselves. They fought hard and gave it everything. At the end of the day, we were missing that little bit of luck. Don't forget Leverkusen had two or three really good chances on the counter. It was Kaiserslautern's last game [of the season]. I can't say if it was the last game of my career. I've maybe got the drive to keep going, but the last three months have really taken it out of me. I'm looking forward to recharging the batteries on Monday."