Dortmund - Borussia Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp rung the changes for the struggling five-time Bundesliga champions' clash with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Friday evening, retaining just six of the players from the side that lost to Eintracht Frankfurt last Sunday.
Perhaps the most significant change, Mitchell Langerak was brought into the starting line-up in place of regular first-choice goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. The 26-year-old Australian justified his selection with a clean sheet that helped secure a vital 1-0 victory for Dortmund to climb off the foot of the table and into 14th ahead of the weekend’s remaining fixtures.
Langerak took his time in the wake of the nerve-wracking Signal Iduna Park encounter to discuss his performance as well as his relationship with goalkeeping rival Weidenfeller.
Question: Mitchell Langerak, congratulations on the victory over Hoffenheim. You didn’t seem nervous at all during those 90 minutes - was that really the case?
Mitchell Langerak: Of course I was a little more nervous than usual before the match when I knew I’d be playing, but when I’m on the pitch the nerves disappear. Then I’m just concentrating on the game. It also helps when my team plays so well, then I haven’t got that much to do. I didn’t really have to make that many saves against Hoffenheim and I’m obviously very happy with this evening.
Question: When did you find out that you’d be playing?
Langerak: I had an inkling [that I might be playing] during our final training session, but the coach only told me today. That’s not a problem though - I’m always ready to play. That’s what it’s like when you’re second-choice keeper. You’ve always got to be prepared in case you’re needed.
Question: Has this put a strain on your relationship with Roman Weidenfeller, whom you replaced as No. 1 for this game?
Langerak: Our relationship has been exceptional for five years now. We often talk to each other and also spoke before the game today. Roman wished me luck. We’re good friends, both on and off the pitch.
Question: Jürgen Klopp was joking after the game that he decided to play you because he wanted to see you smile.
Langerak: (laughs) That’s what I heard too. I’m always smiling after the match if we’ve won, but I’m focused on the pitch, so of course I'm not smiling quite as much when I'm playing.
Question: You didn’t have that much to do against Hoffenheim. Would you have rather had a busier game so as to prove your value to the team?
Langerak: It’s true that I didn’t really have much to do. Huge compliments to my team for that. Every time I’m on the pitch I don’t really have to do an awful lot actually. My team is so good, they make my job a lot easier.
Question: What’s going to happen now? Are you BVB’s new first-choice keeper?
Langerak: I really don’t know what’s going to happen. Klopp only made a decision for the Hoffenheim game. I have to keep training hard and hopefully I’ll be allowed to play again, but we haven’t spoken about it yet. The coach will have to decide every week what’s best for the team. That not only applies to the goalkeeping spot, but every position on the pitch.
Question: But you wouldn’t object if you could keep your place in the side?
Langerak: (laughs) I want to play as often as possible. That goes without saying.
Question: Do you stay in close contact with your parents in Australia? Do they know you’ve played today?
Langerak: Because of the time difference our match began at 4 am in Australia - in the middle of the night. I don’t know if they’ve seen the game, but obviously I sent them a text when I found out I’d be playing. I assume I’ll have plenty of messages from them on my phone now that the game is over.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Dortmund