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Name: Björn Lindemann
Position: Attacking Midfielder
WOK: How long have you played for Swat Cats?
Björn: It’s now my second year.
WOK: What’s your favourite place to go in Korat?
Björn: There’s a couple of good places. I go to Save One market a lot, because my girlfriend likes it a lot. But I also go to the Mall, and to some restaurants, and into the old city. Really, though, my favourite place is my bed.
WOK: Do you go to any foreign restaurants?
Björn: There’s a couple, yes. German-Thai restaurants (Café Capu or Lecker Lecker?), there are a few, but my favourite is Thai food.
WOK: What’s your favourite Thai food?
Björn: A lot, I like a lot. My girlfriend cooks all nice dishes from the south. OK, the standard answer is khao pad kai (chicken fried rice), it’s the one that everybody likes, but I also like tom yam kung, it’s really my favourite soup here. But I try everything. Sometimes I think I won’t like it, but some dishes really surprise me.
WOK: How many chilis would you have in a som tam?
Björn: I can eat pretty spicy food now. In the beginning I was dying two times. When I ate and after I ate (laugh), but now it’s OK. After a couple of years you eat more and more, but I don’t know how many I would put in, but it’s more than a few.
WOK: What is your football playing history?
Björn: My playing history is long. I started in Germany at Hannover in the academy. I played there for 6 years. Then I changed to my first senior team in Germany at Holstein Kiel for 2 years and then I stopped in Magdeburg in East Germany for 2 years. Then I went to Paderborn and got promoted to the second division, then changed to Osnabrück and got promoted to the second division again. Then I had a short trip to Jena for 6 months, but the coach and me weren’t on the same lines, so after that I came to Thailand and joined Army United. I had 2 great fun years. New adventures. Then I was at Suphanburi for a year and now we’re sitting here having an interview together.
WOK: What brought you to the Thai league?
Björn: A Thai agent. He wanted to make money to bring me here (laugh). It was quite funny. I had a really good year in Germany in the second division. Then some agents came and asked about going to China. So I went to China for 2 weeks and the money was really nice, but the life was very hard there; a lot of smoke, a lot of people, it’s not the same. From Europe to China is a big difference. America was another option. I don’t know, I was in Jena and some guy called me and asked me about Bangkok. I have only seen Bangkok in Hangover 2 and that’s funny, so I looked at it a bit and then nearly a month later I was here. I checked everything out and met nice people and it was a little bit different, but it was interesting. Coming from Germany, Bangkok is a really amazing city. I thought about it for 2 weeks and then I said, ‘yes’. Now I’m still here.
WOK: It was a good choice.
Björn: Yes. Sometimes I hate it, but it’s a good choice. It’s pretty nice to see the Thai Premier League getting better and better and the quality getting better. With Swat Cats now you see a proper real football club with amazing supporters. After 5 years I am really enjoying it again.
WOK: What do you miss from home?
Björn: Only my friends and family.
WOK: If you play FIFA (on the Playstation), which team do you play with?
Björn: Er, it depends. I play on line with Bayern Munich, but normally when I play against my friends at home I play with PSG, because Zlatan has the nose and he scores the goals.
WOK: What is the hardest thing about living in Thailand?
Björn: In the beginning it was the communication. Nobody understands you and they just say, ‘yes, yes, yes’, but then in the end they don’t understand anything. But now I think it is the right time and the organisation. Because when you want something or you have an appointment and you must do something for your life, people say ‘yes’, but you have to wait, or they don’t say that you need this paper. Or you go to the bank and they say it's not the right time. This is the sabai sabai style, and sometimes it’s a little bit annoying, but in the end if you can deal with everything, I can’t really say what’s hard, but small things sometimes… or the car drivers! (laugh) This is annoying sometimes too. But you learn to live with all these things in the end.
WOK: Who is the best player you have played against?
Björn: In all my career. Oh, I have played against a couple of good players. Mmm, the best player, I think the hardest player was Jaap Stam.
WOK: No! (in awe)
Björn: Yes, he was the hardest player. All the time when he’s breathing behind you, this is really hard. I also remember Claudio Lopez. Oh he was so fast, it was not normal, what I saw. Jan Šimák was also a really nice playmaker. He wasn’t so famous, but I think he was the best playmaker ever for Czechoslovakia. Even Pavel Nedved said this. This is like remembering a lot, eh. With Jaap Stam, when you play behind the defender and you want to go and beat him one on one, you have pain afterwards (laugh). There are so many good players. Even Ze Roberto, with his age. He was 36 at Hamburg and we played against him in a cup game. He was physically so strong, and technical. He was still playing at 40. He had all the attributes you need for playing.
WOK: He was good on Championship Manager as well.
Björn: Yeah, this is true. But he was also a really nice player. Lewandowski was also really nice. If I was a defender, I couldn’t play against him. He was perfect. But I would say Jaap Stam was the hardest opponent I ever had.
WOK: Do you play any other sports in Korat?
Björn: Sometimes I play badminton with Hagen, and I know you play squash with him sometimes too. Golf too sometimes, I have all the clubs at home. Normally I like to play tennis, but nobody in the team wants to play against me.
WOK: I’ll give you a game.
Björn: OK. I like to play sports. Basketball too. In my neighbourhood we have a basketball court and sometimes I play against the small kids. It’s not fair, because I am bigger than them (laugh). I like fishing too, it’s not really a sport, but it’s nice for relaxing. Anything that makes you sweat I enjoy.
WOK: How do Swat Cats compare to a European team?
Björn: Er, you can’t really. It’s 2 different worlds. Swat Cats, from the supporters, they can beat some European clubs I think. Also the fan club is really amazing, like at the Buriram games. What they are doing is really nice. They love the club. This you can compare to Europe, but anything else, it’s a really big difference, and it’s a long step to go this way. I think you must first look (to emulate) the Japanese and Korean leagues before you can look at the European leagues. The organisation, the pitches, ah, there’s so many things I can compare. But the most important thing that’s nice is the fans. For this you play football and it is the big plus.
WOK: What is your training schedule like?
Björn: A surprise (laugh). I think the coach doesn’t train too much or too hard. And now we have a lot of players in the squad, like nearly 40, so it’s hard to do something, but normally we have the same schedule, only when the TPL (Thai Premier League), wait… what is the new name? When the PLT (Premier League Thailand) has a new idea and they change some games, but normally we have a normal week. You know what you have to do. When you have a double session or one training session. So, it’s getting a little bit better, but it’s still sometimes a surprise.
WOK: If Swat Cats could sign one player, who would you choose?
Björn: Swat Cats, eh? The first problem is who would come to Thailand? Which player can they pay for?
WOK: You can have anyone you like.
Björn: Erm, I think Zlatan Ibrahimović
WOK: I’d be happy.
Björn: This would be really interesting.
WOK: Who has the best stadium in the league?
Björn: I think right now, Buriram. From the quality, from the inside and everything, it’s Buriram. But Ratchaburi put up a new stadium. OK, but this question, I think Buriram have the best and most professional stadium in Thailand.
WOK: What language do the squad speak on the pitch?
Björn: The football language. Do you know the football language? (laugh)
WOK: Which is ‘hup’?
Björn: ‘Come on’, ‘yes’, ‘come on!’ No I learned from the beginning to speak the words in Thai, like ‘you’re alone’, ‘turn around’, ‘right’, ‘left side’, or ‘shoot’. I tried to keep it in my brain. I think it’s not so hard. But they are also starting to speak a little bit of English, and a little bit of Thai. Like a mix, so in the end everybody understands this. But the problem is that 80% of the players don’t speak, so it’s not really a language. The good clubs speak in English most of the time and the normal clubs, they have a mix. We understand each other. Good teams don’t have to speak too much.
WOK: Where have you travelled in Thailand that you liked the most?
Björn: Oh, it’s a couple of places. At the beginning I was in Phuket. I must say Chiang Mai was very nice. It’s a really relaxing city in the north. It’s cool, it’s small and it’s clean, so I like it a lot, especially for sightseeing. Koh Samui was also good for a relaxing holiday with my friends on the scooter driving around. Even Chiang Rai in the mountains is cool. I think I haven’t even seen 2% of all the places in Thailand. I will go to Koh Samed next month. There are so many beautiful places in Thailand so I can’t really choose. Maybe you have a favourite place you can tell me.
WOK: Kanchanaburi is a win, and Krabi.
Björn: But you see, now you give me problems again. Krabi is nice, with the islands and beaches and the mountains and the water is so clean. It depends who you are going with. Everywhere can be nice. I’d say Koh Samui, on the beach, I like it. With a drink on the beach, with nice weather. Some bikinis.
WOK: What is the expectation for the Swat Cats squad this season?
Björn: Well, they are speaking about top 5, but I think that’s a bit dreamy. If we come in the top 10, it’s a good result. The problem is, it’s typical Thailand. We spent money, but they never asked by us. If you are really working like a football club, seriously. You really want to make the team better. But I see you have 40 players in the squad. How can we make a squad where everyone is happy? How can everyone play football? We want the feeling where everyone is important. I think it’s not easy. This is only the first step. Then organising. You want to be a top 5 club? Then you must go to other cities and everyone has to think, ‘Swat Cats are coming, wow!’ When you get off the bus, they are thinking, ‘we’ve got to play against Swat Cats’. So many things, they want to make it better, but, OK, maybe this year Swat Cats take a step back and they want to make it better next year. I’m not sure, maybe I won’t stay next year? Who knows? So I can’t really say, but I think they must stay in the league this year, maybe top 10. This would be nice. Then I hope they make better jobs, thinking more football, bring in people that have ideas, that know the plan, because I really hope this club can one day beat Buriram. This is possible. When you give me the power, and say bring this club somewhere in 2 or 3 years, I tell you I would like to bring the club into the top 3 in Thailand, and maybe can bring them international. Because when you deal with people, I know it’s not simple in Thailand to deal with all people, with the stadium, with this, with the training pitches, but I think we can do it, when you have money, and the club have money. Then you can really give the supporters what they want. They can travel to Korea, they can travel to Japan. They can show that in Thailand we also have football clubs. This is a really big step and I wish all the best for the club. In the year’s that I have been in Thailand, I must say I love this city, and I am very happy to play at home every second Sunday and listen when the people sing the song in the stadium. Goosebumps come. It’s like in Dortmund after a fan tragically died, and all the supporters from both clubs stood and sung ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ for the guy, again you can see it gives me goosebumps! It’s amazing. This feeling we get in Korat also. I really hope to show the whole of ASEAN what is possible when you are really serious.
WOK: Well thank you Björn, it’s been very nice talking to you and good luck in the next game on…