In a week that’s all about honoring his own legacy and achievements at FC Bayern Munich, Bastian Schweinsteiger was true to form in preferring to talk about his teammates at an afternoon press conference on Sunday in Munich.
“I think so far as I know every player is enjoying being here, I saw one or the other having the white sausage already, the pretzel,” Schweinsteiger said with a laugh in front of a roomful of reporters at FC Bayern Munich’s training facilities. “They are doing the right thing – they enjoy but they also want to compete and also play nice soccer, so that is also in our focus.”
Of course, Schweinsteiger will play just 45 of the 90 minutes in his tribute match Tuesday with his Fire teammates, also stepping back in time to reassume his place within the team at Bayern Munich. When he does, he’ll be able to experience the same emotion that carried him through 500 appearances for his hometown club.
“Stepping on the field, especially Allianz Arena, it’s a huge thing, the moment when you exit the dressing room and you see the crowd, big stadium, supporters, it’s going to be great,” he said. “I’m quite sure every player on my team will enjoy and I think too the supporters who are traveling for the match.”
Schweinsteiger fielded more than 30 minutes of questions Sunday, primarily from German media members who were eager to hear his thoughts on the Fire, MLS, the current FC Bayern squad and his feelings upon return to Munich. The respect and admiration shown for Schweinsteiger by the media -- as well as club staff and the nearly 2,000 fans who viewed the Fire’s open training later in the day – is part of what Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic wanted his squad to witness firsthand in their week abroad.
“We are overwhelmed by all of the emotions that are surrounding this game,” Paunovic said, “especially how much the fans here and the people in this facility love Basti. I think that’s something that tells a lot and that propels a kind of responsibility for us to be very competitive and represent our club, represent Basti and represent ourselves in the best possible way.
"Basti represents all of the values that our club has always had, has now and will have in the future," Paunovic said. "Since he came in Chicago and in the league, it raised all the levels in our league and in our club. We are very grateful for him being with us, not only his talent on the field, but off the field he has many. He helps the youngsters, the players to get better, to give their best always on the field and to learn from him, so it’s a huge, immense impact that he has right now in our club."
Pauno is only 12 months removed from the experience of heading up a star-studded MLS All-Star squad against another of the world's biggest clubs, Real Madrid, in front of a sold-out crowd at Soldier Field in Chicago. With the Fire in the midst of a three-week break from MLS regular season competition, Paunovic's message to his squad before Tuesday's tribute match will be much the same as it was heading into last year's MLS All-Star Game.
"Once we step on the field, we will have a mighty Bayern in front of us, which is a huge honor," Paunovic said. "Once again, I’m saying here, we’re very grateful for this opportunity, but we will give our best, do our best and definitely be great sportsmen on the field."