Munich - On the pitch, Holger Badstuber comes across as a battle-hardened veteran with a career's worth of games in the top-flight under his belt. His no-holds-barred attitude to defending, as well as his composure in possession, have helped him rise from unknown hopeful to a rock at the heart of both Bayern Munich's and Germany's back line in just three seasons.
Desire for success
Yet when we meet at Bayern's expansive training complex at Säbener Straße, located just south of Munich's city centre, the towering 23-year-old could not be further removed from his on-field persona. "I'm close to my roots and family is important to me," Badstuber said. "I like being social and having fun with friends. But I also enjoy relaxing when I'm not playing football."
However, his fierce will to win is never far from the surface."I always try to give my all. It starts in training," said Badstuber, for whom the 2,000 strong crowd watching Bayern's stars being put through their paces in sweltering heat was nothing out of the ordinary. "We're FC Bayern. We're used to it."
Indeed, his ability to take things in his stride has certainly been a key factor in his ascent through the youth ranks to become a first team mainstay. "I'm very ambitious and always try to do my best," Badstuber continued. "If you work hard, you get rewarded and I want everyone here to give everything. That's the right recipe for winning titles, which is what we all want at the end of the day."
"Wind of change at Bayern"
Such sentiments are likely to be music to the ears of new sporting director Matthias Sammer, who was recruited over the summer to help put an end to the Bavarians' two-year title drought. Badstuber is under no illusions that the four time Bundesliga champion is the right man for the job.
"His new approach to things is very good for Bayern. He brings a certain drive to the club and that gets through to the team as well. He watches us train and observes what we're up to. You can sense the wind of change blowing through the club."
Raring to go
And with the new season fast approaching, Badstuber is itching for the action to get under way once more. "[The Bundesliga] has an unbelievable presence in the whole country. In no other country are the matches sold out as often as they are here. The stadiums are unique - nowhere else has the same level of excitement."
After his own recent rise to prominence, as well as that of David Alaba in 2011/12, Badstuber is intrigued to see which young players will come to the fore in the impending campaign. "Younger, hungrier German players are coming through even earlier than they did only a couple of seasons ago.
"They've shown that they can cope with the pace and the physical side of the game at the top level," Badstuber added. "You can see that you can put your trust in young players. I'm sure new players will come through this season and set the bar even higher."