Donnerstag, 4. Juni 2009
Interview with Grover Gibson (Rot Weiss Ahlen)
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: First of all, how are you doing Grover? You had a serious injury back in February I recall. How has the Rehabilitation program been, any improvements?
Grover Gibson: Thanks for asking, I am doing fine. I think I can start practice with the team next week. But I have to be careful because the team practices is more intensely than the individual practice sessions. I hope i will be back in the roster against Alemannia Aachen or MSV Duisburg.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: You started at the beginning of the season and scored a goal in the first game. How hard will it be to become a starter again?
Grover Gibson: I was in great shape and the beginning of the season. I felt great before I injured my patella ligament. It took me a while to recover and to come back. I had a bit of game time but the first round was already over for me. The pre-season for the second round didn’t start too well. The winter was very cold and we had to practice on the extra turf, which is not good for any ligaments. When I was back in shape and ready to play, I injured myself again during the warm up against 1860 Munich. After working with the trainers for two month, I am ready to go. I have a lot of experience and I believe that I will very important for the team. I will be back in the team, soon.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: This is your first year in the II Bundesliga. Your team is on the 12th spot and the best promoted team. How is the atmosphere in the league, especially at the notorious Millerntor in Hamburg/St. Pauli?
Grover Gibson: To play at the Millerntor in Hamburg/St.Pauli is special. But the crowd in Mainz (2nd in the 2.Bundesliga) or even from Braunschweig (3 Division) or Duesseldorf (3 Division) is crazy, too. The atmosphere is huge. It is a lot of fun to play against clubs with big tradition. These Clubs have a lot of supporters.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: Your first club in Germany was the VFL Stuttgart (1. Bundesliga). How were you recruited? Since you didn’t play college soccer in the US?
Grover Gibson: The U-17 US National Team had a camp in Germany. It was a camp for the youth world cup. We played against Germany twice. The scouts from the VFB Stuttgart liked the way of my game. I already committed to the University of Virginia, but the offer from Germany was too good. I was still a youth player, so I didn’t lose my eligibility to play in the NCAA.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: To go overseas as young player must be very difficult? What was the main difference in the soccer game and in the German culture?
Grover Gibson: VFB Stuttgart helped me a lot at the beginning. At this time, VFB Stuttgart was the only team in Germany who had a youth resident for players. I shared a place with 5 different other youth players. This was a reason why adjusted very fast to the culture. It was a great time and a lot of fun. I shared the place with former German national goalkeeper Tino Hildebrandt (TSV Hoffenheim 1899) and former Bundesliga player Roberto Pinto (SV Sandhausen). I also adapted very quick to the German game and practiced with the men’s team after a year. This is very unusually for a youth player in Germany at this time.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: You left VFB Stuttgart and played for a “couple” of other teams in Germany. Which important people did you meet for your carrier during this time?
Grover Gibson: That is right that I played for a lot of teams in Germany. But I was very unlucky, with two clubs. Bothe teams got folded and instead of signing a new contract. I had to look for a new club at the beginning of the season. Especially at this time, there are a lot of players on the market. I was just happy to sign with a team. I met a lot of people who were important for my soccer carrier. But VFB Stuttgart gave me the chance to play professional soccer. I am still in contact with some of them. But they work for different clubs, now.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: I already mentioned that you saw a lot of Germany while you played soccer. Which region did you liked the most?
Grover Gibson: The people were very nice to me, everywhere. Everybody had their characteristics in Germany. That is like the US. The Schwaben (South West Germany) are a bit different compare to the people in Westfalen (North West Germany) and they are different compare to the Bavarians (South East Germany). But I really like the North of Germany. My family and I feel very home living in Westfalen.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: How fast did you learn the German language?
Grover Gibson: It didn’t take me long to learn the language and to adapt to the culture. VFB Stuttgart gave me a job in the Fan shop to learn the language and to meet German people. This helped me out a lot and it was a smart move by Stuttgart.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: Do you have any contact to other American players here in Germany?
Off course you have a nice chat with American fella after a game. But I live here since almost 11 years in Germany. I have a lot of friends in Germany.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: What is your personal goal for the future? Do you want to stay in Germany or do you want to finish your carrier in the US?
Grover Gibson: I would like to play as long as I can on the highest level in Germany. However, I am going back with my family to the US after my career. I have two kids and I want that my grandparents see them as much as they can. But I will stay involved with the soccer. There are very good players in the US with great potential. It is very hard to overview the US player market with all the leagues and the college teams. I would like to work as a scout for German teams. I already talked to a couple of people in Germany about it.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER: Thanks a lot for the interview. Do you have any tips for young American players who would like to play on a professional level in Germany?
Grover Gibson: It is very important for a young player to adapt to the culture, people and the language. Some international players stay the whole time in their apartment at just leave the house for the practice sessions. I think that this is not a good idea. If you have any soccer problems or other personal issues, you have nobody to talk about it. Social contact is very important and helps you in your carrier and in your development as a person. In addition, look for your chance to get a try out. I know you need a lot of luck. But you don’t have to be a former super star in college. It is important to adjust to the style of game and to win the trust from the coach.
GERMANY SOCCER TRAVELER wishes you all the best and good luck for the rest of the season.