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Feb 22, 2013

I only have to die, Streich explains

Freiburg boss Christian Streich insists he does not need to concern himself with European qualification ahead of Friday's game with Eintracht Frankfurt as he believes the only thing he, or anyone else, is obliged to deal with is death.

Streich is making a name for himself as perhaps the most unusual coach in the Bundesliga. The 47-year-old, who likes to travel to training and home games by bicycle, is known for his particular style of handing the media and his down-to-earth attitude. Most of all, though, he is known for guiding Freiburg from a desperate battle against relegation to the battle for European qualification.

When Streich was promoted from assistant coach to head coach at the end of 2011 after 16 years with the club, Freiburg had won only three of 17 games in the Bundesliga, were bottom of the league and needed to make up a five-point gap to escape the relegation zone. Their top scorer, Papiss Cisse, was sold to Newcastle United the following month and replaced by promoting two reserve players.

By the end of the season, Freiburg had accumulated 40 points and moved up to 12th place.

Streich's star has continued to rise in the current campaign, with Freiburg sitting fifth. Should they beat Frankfurt, they would move ahead of their opponents on goal difference to occupy the final Champions League qualification place.

Asked whether his side were now having to deal with a challenge for European qualification, he replied in his local tongue: "I don't think so. We should deal with Eintracht Frankfurt.

"We play them tomorrow. We absolutely don't have to deal with it. The only thing we have to do is die. We decide which issues to deal with and in which manner. That's up to us to decide. That's our call - the squad, the people working at the club. This is our option. We don't have to do anything. Anything. We only have to die."

Freiburg general manager Dirk Dufner, in an interview with FAZ on Friday, offered an insight into the method behind Streich's approach.

"From day one he was natural and authentic," Dufner explained. "He said: 'I'll do [the job] but I must stay the way I am. And if that doesn't work out, I'll leave. I have got my dialect, my humour, my very own approach - and I will not change anything.'

"If somebody is perfectly normal and does not fit into the picture of how a coach has to be then he attracts enormous attention. That's just crazy. Fortunately, he has been successful."

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