Ex-professional goalkeeper René Adler: Above all, gratitude prevails today.
Who would have thought that? Fear and doubt were his main drivers. “But they also prevented me from getting everything out of my talent. My expectations were higher,” sais goalkeeper René Adler today. It’s hard to believe. But now that René Adler, who was about to become a World Cup goalkeeper, has once and for all given up his profession as a top league goalkeeper, he speaks very openly about his mental world at the time. He makes it public: even someone who is famous carries self-doubt and mental blocks. Yes!
Today, René Adler sees a mission in helping others to become aware of their real needs – earlier than himself. When asked what he would do differently today, he replied in an interview with the German magazine “Stern”: “I would form my own team with experts around me at an early stage. I would have needed a corrective in some situations, someone who would help me understand my real needs. During my time in Leverkusen, I had a friend and mentor with my goalkeeper coach Rüdiger Vollborn who took on this role and knew me like no other. I missed building this team around me, which accompanies me through my career regardless of the club and helps me to balance out my fluctuations.”
In the course of his career, René Adler suffered numerous bitter setbacks, on an athletic, mental and physical level. He says: “Overall, I had to deal with injuries all the time, it must be eleven all together. It started with the fracture of the shinbone head when I was 14. The problems then really started when I switched to the adult area.” In 2004, the strap between his shin and fibula broke. Since then he has been living with a screw holding his leg together. In 2005 the nose broke at the U-20 World Cup, in 2006 a rib fracture followed by shortness of breath and severe pain. At times he took painkillers and was injected so that he could play the games. Even though he kept going, he had trouble coping with the numerous setbacks. René Adler says: “I got my self-worth strongly from my performance. When I played well, I felt good. Developing a deep conviction – ‘I can do it even if there are setbacks’ – that was brutal work for me. I have rarely felt the confidence in my own strength. I had the highest goals, but there was often a large discrepancy between my aspiration and my inner feelings. To unite that again and again took enormous strength.”
Mental training, in which he got to know himself and his needs better in combination with autogenic training helped him to calm himself down and to become more relaxed even in stressful situations and afterwards.
The German magazine “Stern” also asked René Adler in the interview how he was doing when he saw Germany’s national goalkeeper Manuel Neuer today, whether he saw himself in him, maybe asking himself: It could have been me? After a time of thinking, René Adler replied: “I believe that Manu was clearly in the plus for the business with his natural lightness, which characterizes him, less of the talent in goalkeeping. You have to learn to live with your mental energy, especially if you are always in focus.”
René Adler is 35 years old today. In 2018 he ended his career as a professional goalkeeper. In his lectures, for example, he talks about how one can learn from severe setbacks in order to emerge from them stronger than ever. He also explains why talent alone is not enough, but that the right attitude leads to success. And, of course, he has a lot to say about successful teams.
Look forward to a reflected René Adler. Today he says that despite all the setbacks in his young life, he feels one thing above all: gratitude.