Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Beating the Demons; Sebastian Deisler, Germany's Onetime Wonderkid, Is Back Playing after Serious Mental Problems

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Beating the Demons; Sebastian Deisler, Germany's Onetime Wonderkid, Is Back Playing after Serious Mental Problems

Article excerpt

Byline: IAN CHADBAND

ON THE eve of the Champions League match at Juventus in October, Bayern Munich star Sebastian Deisler approached his team's general manager Uli Hoeness with the news which not just the club but also a nation had dreaded.

Sensing he was suffering from a recurrence of the chronic depression which had forced him to spend nine weeks in the psychiatric unit of Munich's Max Planck Institute the previous year, Deisler, the midfielder once considered Gemany's sparkling answer to David Beckham, explained he wanted to go home.

Hoeness may have sensed the worst, perhaps remembering that anguished phone call from Deisler in November 2003 in which the player had told him "I can't go on. It's the end". That was the first revelation of a drama which was to transfix Germany. A complete recovery was supposed to have been made yet now this setback in Turin had his countrymen fearing for him again.

Even though Deisler's specialist, Professor Florian Holsboer, described the relapse as only "a slight setback", the widespread speculation was, as he returned to the unit for a week, that Deisler's top-level career might be over. It was a suspicion Bayern President Franz Beckenbauer fuelled by declaring he should be loaned to a smaller club to continue a low-key rehabilitation.

Yet Deisler, backed by the faith of his coach Felix Magath, has confounded those doubters by fighting his way back into Munich's starting line-up, first helping dispose of Arsenal in the Champions League and now targeting Chelsea at Stamford Bridge tomorrow.

Most Germans now believe that, at 25, Deisler, partly down to physical reasons as much as mental, probably won't fulfil the promise of his garlanded youth when, with a right foot to die for and skill to outstrip Beckham, he was hailed Basti Fantasti, the handsome young face of Germany's footballing future. Yet, hopefully, they will end up appreciating a Deisler triumph over his demons as one of the great footballing comebacks. The fact that, after 15 serious injuries, including career-threatening knee trouble, five operations and those two spells in the psychiatric unit, he has become a significant figure in Magath's Champions League assault and was only last week drafted back into Jurgen Klinsmann's national squad, is a tribute to the sensitive way club and country have helped him.

The symbol of this came at the end of February when, after daring to give him just a few substitute appearances since his second spell in the Institute, Magath decided to start Deisler in a Bundesliga game for the first time in four months.

After a stiff, nervy performance in the first half against Freiburg, Oliver Kahn told Deisler during the interval: "Loosen up. You don't need to be scared of anything. You've so much talent. Just do it and score. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.