Dietmar Hamann - enjoying the quiet life in Alderley Edge
Dietmar Hamann - the 'Didi Man' - won it all. Well, nearly. He was courageous, unforgiving, hard. Nowadays he's a convert to the quiet life. The Alderley Edge resident tells Adam Clark why
The first thing you notice about Dietmar Hamann is the accent. In fact, it’s unmissable.
It’s a relic from his days spent living on the Wirral, when, as a midfielder, he inspired some of Liverpool Football Club’s greatest modern-day achievements.
It’s understandable. But scouse just sounds a little odd on a German. These days Hamann, a self-confessed Anglophile, is more likely to be seen walking his beloved pet dog through the spectacular countryside surrounds of Alderley Edge than kicking a football.
The 38-year-old is having a spot of ‘down time’ following a fleeting stint in management with Stockport County. The area’s close proximity to his most recent employer (County’s Edgeley Park home is less than 11 miles away) is not the reason for his current residence in these parts, however. No, Hamann simply feels at home here.
‘I came to Alderley Edge six years ago when I signed for Manchester City,’ he explains as his exclusive interview with Cheshire Life begins. ‘The commute to the training ground from where I previously lived on the Wirral was around an hour and 20 minutes, so I thought I’d be better off here. I’m still here now and it’s a nice area. It has a good standard of living and there are many nice people.’
That move to the City of Manchester Stadium – in the days before a takeover by oil-rich Emirati royalty had the Citizens challenging neighbours United for the title of England’s leading club - came at the end of a glittering seven-year spell at a venue more readily synonymous with glory - Anfield.
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Indeed, Hamann won two FA Cups, two League Cups, the UEFA Cup, and came on as a half-time substitute when the Reds achieved the ‘miracle of Istanbul’, overturning a 3-0 deficit to beat AC Milan in the extraordinary Champions League final of 2005.
Critics questioned why manager Rafael Benitez ever opted to start without the German that night and he is widely credited with stabilising a group of players who, until his introduction, had looked forlorn at the feet of their merciless Italian counterparts.
Unsurprisingly, Hamann considers that night ‘the pinnacle’ of a stellar career.
‘It was incredible to win the European Cup with a team that made its name and its mark in the competition during the 1970s and 1980s,’ he says, referring to a spell of dominance which saw Liverpool lift the trophy four times and establish themselves as the most successful British club side ever to venture on to the continent.
‘To bring the trophy back to the club after a 21-year wait was a special moment, especially given the way we did it. It was something else.’Prior to joining Liverpool, Hamann spent four-and-a-half years with homeland giants Bayern Munich before first setting foot in England with Newcastle United in 1998.
A debut season of dominant engine-room displays – not to mention a veritable raft of spectacular long-range wonder strikes – soon had him headed for the north west, where, by his own admission, ‘the good things happened’.
The success he sampled in the following seven years goes a long way to explaining his enduring attachment to this particular part of the world.A man who also scored the last goal at the old Wembley – a German winner which incidentally brought about the end of Kevin Keegan’s reign as England manager – Hamann has no shortage of achievements to reflect on while making the most of Cheshire life – a quest which commonly leads him to food.
‘I have a love of food. It was always something I had to suppress as a footballer, but maybe not so much now! There are a few restaurants about that are very nice. There is the Alderley Bar and Grill, Chilli Banana in Wilmslow - they’re two of the good ones. I am fussy when it comes to food, but not too fussy. If the menu is big enough, I’ll usually find something!’
Don’t expect to see Hamann out after dark, however. “I’m too old” he says, ‘I’d rather stay in.’ A morning stroll is far more his thing.
“I walk the dog most days on the Edge, that’s what I like to do. It has beautiful views. If you’ve not been, it is definitely worth a look.”In the immediate future, much of Hamann’s time will be spent promoting his new book.
‘The Didi Man’ is a collection of captivating tales from a playing career which spanned three decades and took him all over the globe.With that particular chapter of his life having reached its conclusion, he felt now was the time to put an incredible story – not to mention the jokes and laughs – down on paper.
‘I don’t really agree with footballers releasing books when they’re still playing. But I’ve got a bit of distance now having finished two or three years ago. I think we’ve come up with a good mix – some very interesting stories and views that I’ve got and some funny ones as well. I think it’s come over as a good read.”
And it’s not purely about football either. The world’s first Bavarian-Scouser likes a grumble too. ‘I’ve put some of my views in there about things which I think are right or wrong. There’s a bit about the riots in the UK last year, there’s all sorts of stuff, the state of the economy.’
But what about the long-term future? Is Dietmar ‘Didi’ Hamann destined for a life on the Cheshire plain?
‘I do want to stay in England and I’ll be doing my next coaching qualifications, preferably here in Cheshire. I feel very attached to the place. But at the same time, you have to see where you are wanted. I want to go back into management as quickly as I can and as soon as the right job comes up and the right offer, then I would definitely be interested.
“I really did enjoy living on the Wirral and I’m certainly not ruling out moving back there at some stage. But we’ll just have to wait and see. It’s a nice place and I enjoy it here. But being an ex-footballer isn’t much different to being a footballer - you never know what the future will bring.’
The print version of this article appeared in the April 2012 issue of Cheshire Life
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