bundesliga.com caught up with the 45-year-old Scotsman recently at his former club's training ground to hear his view on the development of the game in Germany, how playing in Germany influenced his own career and his abiding memories of life in North-Rhine Westphalia.
bundesliga.com: Paul Lambert, people associate your spell here with winning the Champions League, but what would be your fondest memory of playing in the Bundesliga?
Paul Lambert: My first game was [Bayer 04] Leverkusen. I’d signed on the Thursday and the game was on the Saturday. I never knew the language or anything, and I played against a guy called Paulo Sergio. I couldn’t get near him and the first half was like a whirlwind, but just by luck I scored a goal before half-time and my game started to get better and better and it just went from there. We lost the game 4-2 in the end, but I’d probably say it was the experience I had of playing in the Bundesliga and playing with a really special team that stands out for me.
bundesliga.com: You spent the last few seasons coaching in England. As a product, how would you compare the Bundesliga with the Premier League in terms of the football, the stadia, ticket pricing etc.?
Lambert: I’ve experienced the Premier League and the Bundesliga, but I’m not sure you can really compare leagues that way as everybody has their own way. [But] the Bundesliga is a fantastic league and the stadia and the crowds are of a really high standard.
bundesliga.com: What reasons would you give to encourage football fans to watch the Bundesliga?
Lambert: What I noticed, especially in this city, is that football is a full-day activity. It starts early in the morning and finishes after the game. It’s a full day’s experience. Observing from the outside and just walking about the city, you can just see how important this football club is to the supporters.
bundesliga.com: In your coaching career you’ve consistently put faith in young players. Was that something that was influenced by observing teams like those of Jürgen Klopp in recent years?
Lambert: I was fortunate enough to play under some great managers in my career and I like my teams to play with a lot of energy, and every time I watch this Dortmund side play, I see that they have exactly that, so much energy. It’s not always possible to achieve, but I like my teams to play fast football with a high tempo.
bundesliga.com: Would you consider coaching in the Bundesliga at some point in the future?
Lambert: Well my German’s still okay (laughs). I can still understand some things and a lot of it comes back when you’re here, and I still get recognised in the city from time to time - you see people do a double take and think "Is that him?" But to coach here? You just never know. If you’d asked me all those years ago would I ever play in the Bundesliga, my answer’s always the same: you never know in this game. At the moment I’m really enjoying looking at teams like this, but football’s a worldwide game that takes you to different places. So you never say never.
bundesliga.com: As of this season, there are now no British players in the Bundesliga. Would you like to see more British players move to Germany and can they learn from playing in the Bundesliga?
Lambert: Well coming here was the greatest move I made, not just in terms of football but also my lifestyle. It made me grow up really quickly, which I had to do. I had to try and get in a team with world-class players, but also I had to learn another culture, language and another way of life, so even taking football out of the equation, it was simply a fantastic experience.
bundesliga.com: You were at Dortmund for just over a year. Was there ever any disappointment that you had such a relatively short stint at the club?
Lambert: You try never to have any regrets and as I said, I had a great time here. To win what we did win was a great achievement.
bundesliga.com: In your final game, you had a farewell message for the supporters? Can you remember what you said?
Lambert: What happened was that after the game against Parma [in the Champions League group stage], I’d walked down the tunnel, but the stadium never emptied. So I had to go back out, and it was one of the hardest moments ever. I'd always had a good relationship with the fans but I never expected a farewell like that. People still remember that moment, and for me it’s obviously a great, great memory.
Paul Lambert was speaking to Bernie Reeves