He is one of the many legends AS Monaco has known in its history. A World Champion with Germany in 1990 and second in the Ballon d’Or in 1995, Jürgen Klinsmann wore the Monegasque colors between 1992 and 1994. It was time enough for him to showcase his incredible eye for goal by scoring 35 times in 84 matches across in all competitions.
De passage au Centre de Performance, Jürgen Klinsmann, qui a évolué à l'AS Monaco de 1992 à 1994, a un message pour vous ❤️🤍 pic.twitter.com/J6Qm9XJXJE
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) September 6, 2023
Part of the team’s first European run
He was in the squad for the Club’s first European run, which ended in the Champions League semifinals in 1994, the current coach of South Korea was in Monaco last week for the draw for the group stages of the competition. He then took the opportunity to visit La Turbie, and see the Performance Centre for the first time.
Between moments of surprise and amazement, he agreed to sit in the auditorium to carry out a long and sincere interview to look back on his memories in Rouge et Blanc. 🎙
Hello Jürgen. What is the reason for your coming to the Performance Center?
I had come to Monaco for the Champions League draw (the interview was conducted the next day, editor’s note). Every time I have the opportunity to come to the Rock, I call Pierre-Jo to come and hear the latest news about AS Monaco. I’m happy to be here, and to finally be able to see the Performance Center, which is absolutely incredible.
You felt more and more amazed as you toured it…
I have already seen a lot of training centers around the world and I know those in the Premier League and Bundesliga well. Currently, I also coach the South Korean national team. Every team is looking to build something special for the team, the club and obviously the players.
The big highlight is also the Côte d’Azur, which is one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially Monaco. It’s a privilege, and I’m happy that the players currently at the Club are experiencing this special place. Ambitions can increase with that, like winning the Champions League, it’s a dream, and there’s nothing wrong with dreaming!
I imagine that this must be different compared to what you have known?
Indeed, when I compare what I saw today compared to what it was 30 years ago… (laughs). AS Monaco has completely transformed La Turbie: now the coffee from the machine is good (laughs). We only had one and a half pitches at the time, so seeing this building is a dream come true for any AS Monaco player, coach or employee.
When you have this at your disposal, you only want to work to give the best, and you have the best possible care, the best machines and the best facilities behind it. Everything can be done to give the best of yourself, it’s the same for the coaches. They must say to themselves: “Given everything that is put at my disposal, I will give it my all.”
Bienvenue dans le nouveau 𝐂𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐫𝐞 𝐝𝐞 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 de l'AS Monaco 🇲🇨 pic.twitter.com/hAzOK0p1Qo
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) September 5, 2022
It must have surprised you at the time, right?
Yes because we were changing in a container and I hadn’t seen La Turbie before signing (laughing). So I was a little disappointed the first few days, but I improved and got used to it. I got along well with the team, there were great players, and a lot of mutual respect. They showed me everything there was to see in the surrounding area, I only have wonderful memories.
So you arrived in 1992 to replace George Weah, it must have been a big responsibility to follow in the footsteps of a future Ballon d’Or winner?
So you have to know that it wasn’t supposed to happen like that (laughs). Before I came, I spoke to Arsène Wenger, who explained to me that he wanted me to play in attack alongside him. “I told him okay, I’m leaving Inter Milan, I’m coming.”
The day after my arrival, George Weah went to Paris Saint-Germain, I was very angry. I arrived at training the next day and I went to see him, I said to him “Arsène, we need to talk” (laughs). I reminded him that he had promised me that I was going to play with him, so that in the end he would go to PSG. If he had told me he was leaving, I certainly would not have signed.
What does AS Monaco mean to you?
I was here for two years, between 1992 and 1994, then I joined Tottenham, because the Premier League had become the biggest league in the world at that time. For me, from the first moments, I immediately thought that it was a place where I would feel at home.
Arsène Wenger was a fantastic coach, and my teammates, who were regulars with their national teams, were very special young players, like Emmanuel Petit, Lilian Thuram or Youri Djorkaeff. I felt good energy from them. The Club gave me the chance to play for the French league title, and the Champions League.
— AS Monaco 🇲🇨 (@AS_Monaco) November 21, 2018
In fact, in 1994, AS Monaco reached the semi-finals of this competition…
Yes that’s right. During my second season, we reached the semifinals of the Champions League, where we lost against AC Milan. But I am convinced that we could have been in the final, because if we had played the match at home, and not away, we could have beaten them (3-0 defeat, editor’s note).
What memory do you have of this match?
So, I remember causing the expulsion of their defender Alessandro Costacurta. But above all it is the experience gained by Emmanuel Petit, Youri Djorkaeff and Lilian Thuram, because they understood what it was to play at a very high level, and when you played this team at San Siro, that is the case .
At that time, Milan was indeed incredible. This team had already won Champions Leagues with fantastic coaches. For me, it was more difficult, because I was an Inter player before my time at Monaco, between 1989 and 1992. The fans insulted me as soon as I touched the ball but I didn’t pay attention to it. I was convinced that we could have done better and reached the final.
— Milan Posts (@MilanPosts) May 17, 2021
I imagine that this still remains a great moment for you since at the time, it was the biggest run in the history of the Club?
It was my first participation in the Champions League. At the time, there were two groups of four teams and the winner of one group faced the second of the other at home, in a single match. We were with Barcelona, and finished second. We had a fantastic team, but no one really knew it at the time. I think if we had finished first, we could have won it, but the Final Four was tough for AS Monaco, so we can feel proud for the club, and for everyone.
When you talk about dream teams, which players do you think of in particular?
I’m speaking for example about Youri Djorkaeff, Emmanuel Petit and Lilian Thuram who later became world champions. We quickly saw the talent in these players. We really had special players with great talent like Claude Puel, Rui Barros, and Luiz Henrique. He was a young Brazilian with crazy speed.
On the left side, we also had Luc Sonor, or Patrick Blondeau, who was 100% Côte d’Azur (laughs). We can say that we had a very solid team, and a potential chance of winning the Champions League. And this feeling is even more accentuated when you see them add their names to the national team, and win a World Cup.
Another great moment for you is your quadruple against Auxerre…
I remember that, because I think my second match took place in Auxerre. Their central defender, William Prunier, kept fouling me, and it really annoyed me. They beat us and I told him on the pitch, probably in English or German, “You’ll see when you come to Monaco”. He came, and we beat them, they were a very good team at that time.
I scored four goals, I couldn’t wait any longer for this match, I had fun on the pitch. I drove him crazy, I remember he wanted to stop playing football after the game, and I told him “no, stop, it’s not that serious, you’re a good defender”. For me, it was satisfying to score these four goals. It was my debut in Ligue 1, he bothered me the whole match, and I was never able to forget it.
Have you kept in touch with any of your teammates?
Having the chance to play for AS Monaco, Inter Milan or that kind of team is the fact that I had the chance to meet wonderful people and wonderful teammates. If I want advice on Monaco for example, I call Gérald Passi, with whom I am still in contact, like Patrick Blondeau, with whom I try to do my best in French on the telephone, but also Lilian Thuram, with whom I speak Italian.
And when I have the chance to come back to a team where I played, there are a lot of feelings and I remember the things that happened there. My best memory I have here is being able to meet all these teammates and laughing with them.
A final word for the Monegasque supporters who read this interview?
It was a pleasure to come here and visit the new training center at La Turbie. I’m happy and excited to see what’s going to happen here, and I’m crossing my fingers for the Club and for you, hoping that the dream will come true and that you will win the title of French champion again, and that you will return to the Champions League.