Eintracht Frankfurt and Germany international goalkeeper Kevin Trapp has enjoyed a fantastic career in professional football, and it all started from an email he sent to Kaiserslautern after seeing an advert for trials on the club's website.
The 29-year-old shot-stopper sat down with bundesliga.com to talk about the start of his career, life in lockdown without his fiancé and the season so far for the Eagles.
bundesliga.com: Kevin Trapp, let us begin with your childhood: Where did you grow up? And how did you end up at Kaiserslautern?
Kevin Trapp: "I was born in Merzig, in Saarland. I was there until 2004. I'm not sure exactly when it was, I think it was 2001 or 2002. We went to watch a match with the team. Back then it was SSV Bachum and SV Mettlach. And FC Brotdorf if that rings any bells for you! It was FC Kaiserslautern against Gladbach. Tim Wiese was still the keeper for Kaiserslautern. I told my coach I'd like to be down there on the pitch one day. I went home afterwards and from my own incentive, I looked up FC K and what opportunities they were offering. They were having trials. I wrote them an email explaining my situation and that I'd love to take part in the trials. I think it was September when I received a reply saying that it was currently not possible, however, that they would contact me in case the opportunity arose again. That is what they did a year later! 2003 or 2004. I was allowed to take part in the training sessions and from then on, everything took flight."
bundesliga.com: So, you invited yourself via email to 1. FC Kaiserslautern?
Trapp: "I had the honour of being invited to play for the first team back when I was in the youth leagues due to the goalkeepers being off sick. SVV Bachum were already playing Youth Bundesliga. Kaiserslautern was also in that league. Therefore, when I got to play, it was a match against Kaiserslautern. I found out later as I was offered the contract that there were a bunch of coaches there watching the game. So, it wasn't just the email but also the performance!"
bundesliga.com: You also went through the Gerald Ehrmann-Schule. 'Gerry' (former goalkeeping coach for Kaiserslautern) has produced some great goalkeepers. How would you describe him and what has he taught you?
Trapp: "I think Gerry is a very honest person. He always tells you exactly what he thinks. That's incredibly important. He gives you the basic ingredients in terms of what you need to begin training. He starts training with you at a very young age – I think I was in the second team U17. That's when I started training with him. He always tried to take away the fear; fear of making mistakes. He tried to bring this sense of aggressiveness that a keeper needs. The knowledge that you're allowed to make mistakes but also to be able to learn from them. For him, the most important thing was not to be afraid. Anything could happen, as long as we were not afraid. The way he trained us; the explosiveness, the bounce. We did four or five different drills over and over again. He said it needed to become automatic and not be seen as training anymore. This was because these movements happened often in matches. He kept insisting. The act of keeping in touch with the players and taking away their fear helped extremely much."
bundesliga.com: How have you been doing during these times? What do you miss the most?
Trapp: "We're lucky that we're allowed to finally train again; in small groups but nevertheless. It helps a lot. I spent three weeks in quarantine: one week where there was no training and then two weeks in this compulsory quarantine. It wasn't easy so I have full respect for those who can get through this. The routine of being around the team all the time and going to 20 or 25 matches; being able to communicate and be social – when this gets taken away, it's something you miss, no question about it. We're currently training in groups of three. It isn't as bad anymore however, playing football in full stadiums – we miss that a lot."
bundesliga.com: On a personal note, what are you missing? Your fiancé and yourself are currently physically separated.
Trapp: "She was working in Paris when this crisis started. The borders were shut in France. There was a complete shutdown. Here in Germany, things became more serious too. We simply were unable to come back together. It wasn't easy. It's been two months of FaceTiming and trying to keep things positive. We're handling it well! It's a good sign. We used to live together whenever she wasn't working. Therefore, being apart for two months isn't easy. About the wedding – we have been talking about that quite a lot! There was difficulty finding a date first of all because of the European Championships this summer and then came this virus. Therefore, it's been postponed. Not cancelled but postponed. Privately, I miss my fiancé a lot. No question."
bundesliga.com: Are you worried at all? What goes on in your thoughts?
Trapp: "It isn't really a personal fear but more the fear of infecting others. I wouldn't say I don't have respect for the virus, it's more about not being worried for myself but for others in terms of keeping to the mandatory laws of social distancing – not going out, not infecting others. There are a lot of cases where people weren't aware they had any symptoms who then went out and infected others. That's my biggest worry. In Germany, the restrictions are working well. Thankfully, we seem to have everything under control. Therefore, it's less about me personally and more about the bigger picture of preventing this virus from spreading any further."
Watch: Trapp: One of the Bundesliga's best!
bundesliga.com: You use the spare time at home to learn new things – e.g. Piano. Is this something you would suggest for other people to do, to learn something new?
Trapp: "Definitely. People ask themselves 'what should I do in this free time?'. We're sitting at home 24/7. After looking through the internet you realise you have 24 hours to do something productive. You sleep seven or eight hours meaning you still have 16 or 17 hours left to do something. That's what I asked of myself and I thought being able to do something productive with my time would benefit me once this crisis is over in terms of coming away with some positive outcomes. I have to say, learning the piano is a huge challenge for me because I don't have a very good ear for music. My rhythm isn't there. I'm concentrating on three different songs. If I manage to learn them by the time this is over, I'll be very proud of myself. I'm no pianist but you're able to decipher the songs I'm trying to play! It's nice. It's also quite fun to be able to play songs which calm me down, so to speak. Otherwise, there are several books that I've been looking forward to reading. Languages are something else I try to keep up with. I've taken up Italian lately. With languages, however, I need to be speaking them in terms of learning. If you don't have anyone to talk to it gets difficult. You can know the basics but if you don't talk, it's difficult."
bundesliga.com: You speak five languages. Lately also Portuguese. That is your fiancé’s mother tongue, right?
Trapp: "First of all, I thought the language was nice. I loved hearing my fiancé and her family speak it until I became jealous of not understanding what they were saying! I wanted to understand the words I kept hearing over and over again. I wanted to know what they were saying. I began asking questions. How to pronounce various words. This is what we were saying before, if you have the chance to hear it on a daily basis, it becomes easier."
bundesliga.com: Can this break be a blessing in disguise once the restart comes to pass?
Trapp: "I'm not sure anyone can answer that at the moment. The teams that weren't on a good run are able to come together and prepare once more. We're unsure when things will go back to normal so there's time to get a lot done. Without the team, however, you cannot work on team tactics and so on. When it all does start again, it'll probably be without any fans. Therefore, it's very difficult to predict what'll happen. Our fans are the ones who have carried us to win games. It's going to be completely different playing in empty stadiums. It'll definitely help to use the things that we've worked on during this time."
bundesliga.com: How much contact do you have towards your teammates?
Trapp: "We have a very active WhatsApp group. It's been much more lively now than it was before. Which also says a lot about us as a team. We have some great personalities in the team, something that has been reiterated now during this difficult period. Not only about trivial things but also about ways in which to be helpful, also in terms of the club. Even though we're still only in small groups, it's nice to be in the changing rooms again, to be able to talk again regardless of having to keep our distance. It's something nice. So yes, in WhatsApp, conversations are ongoing."
bundesliga.com: How would you describe your current season?
Trapp: "We always have very emotional seasons here in Frankfurt. We started off very well and then, after the game against Bayern where we won 5-1, we went on a downward spiral clinching only a point in seven games. We played a fantastic first half of the season – almost better than last year. The lack of points in seven games really brought us into this awkward position. It's a good thing we had a good start in the second half of the season otherwise it could've looked different. In terms of points, anything can happen – going higher or lower. We're currently in a position where we're unsure of which direction we'll be going in. In one sense, I think it's a good season for us because I think it's the first time that Frankfurt is still fighting for three different competitions in May. You can also look at it that way. You can say we're wobbly in the league, going up and down, however, it's still a good season due to the competitions we're still in. That's impressive."
Watch: Frankfurt's 5-1 win over Bayern!
bundesliga.com: What have been your highlights of the season so far?
Trapp: "Definitely the match against Strasbourg. The deciding qualification match. In terms of the atmosphere for the game, it was the most perfect experience. If there's a superlative for 'perfect', that was it. We won 3-0. When I talk about the mood, for me, it topped anything I've ever experienced before. Otherwise, Europa League matches are always highlights regardless of whether luck played a role in terms of us progressing. When we played against Salzburg, we played two wonderful games. Europa League is always a highlight. Apart from that, I'd say the 5-1 against Bayern. Beating Bayern with such a high margin doesn't happen often. For this season, I'd say Strasbourg was the highlight."
bundesliga.com: What do you think your club can still achieve in the future?
Trapp: "We lost the first game against Basel 3-0. This was something that shouldn't have happened if you see the match. We were unhappy. It hurt. It's going to make the return game - whenever it happens - very difficult. In the DFB Cup, we're up against Bayern in the semi-final. That won't be easy either. In a one-off game, it's doable but through two legs... In the league, it's still exciting as well. Unfortunately, as I said, we're in a position where it can go both ways. In terms of moving upwards, it'll be very difficult, in all honesty, because the remaining teams are used to taking the three points on a regular basis. I think it's better if we focus on winning each individual game. We spoke about this over Christmas; we want to return to winning ways; we want to show that on the pitch and make it happen. We'll see what will happen in the end."
bundesliga.com: Having you in goal equals 1.5 points on average per game. Without you, only 0.7 points. You're a killer of clear chances: in your career, you have denied your opponents 31% of their clear-cut chances. How pleased are you with your performances and how are you working on improving?
Trapp: "People who know me know that I always want more. There's always room for improvement. Even though the statistics are nice, I always try to improve in training for the matches. We just got a new goalkeeping coach – Jan Zimmermann - who is very active and focused on details. We try to train very situationally. This makes me happy because it makes me believe I can have an effect on matches. Our biggest target is to keep improving the statistics as much as possible."
bundesliga.com: You also have three caps for your country and are a Confederations Cup winner in 2017. How do you feel about your role in the national team?
Trapp: "We all know what the situation looks like in the national team. We have very good goalkeepers in the team. We're all happy that that is the case. This September will mark five years as a national team player for me. That has always been my goal. I've just recovered from a long injury and I told myself I just wanted to get fit again as quickly as possible. I aimed to get the entire second half of the season in goal in terms of being selected for the Euros. The decision has been made now regardless of performance due to this unfortunate occurrence (Corona). My aim is to be included in the national team because you can always learn new things. It's always a good thing to be selected. I remember when the national team trained in our stadium while I was watching from the stands. I told myself 'one day I want to be a part of that'. It's always a pleasure for me to be included."
bundesliga.com: On a personal note, what wishes do you have for the future?
Trapp: "First of all, I hope that this unfortunate period will end as soon as possible. On the one hand, I want life to go back to normal, however, on the other hand, I would like people to not forget what happened and take something away with them. I've noticed that many people have learned something from this experience and I have hope that we can use that knowledge at some point in the future for something useful. I hope we can all take away some positive things from this. I'd also like to see my fiancé again at some point! Some things need to happen in the meantime and then we'll see how things evolve."