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Oct 23, 2013

Kraft warns young keepers over Bayern

Thomas Kraft has warned young goalkeepers against trying to make a breakthrough at his former club Bayern Munich.

Thomas Kraft left Bayern in 2011, when Manuel Neuer arrived from Schalke.
Thomas Kraft left Bayern in 2011, when Manuel Neuer arrived from Schalke.

Kraft played for Bayern from 2008 to 2011, and had at one stage established himself as the club’s No. 1 under Louis van Gaal, playing 12 Bundesliga games in the 2010-11 season.

However, Van Gaal left in April 2011, and Bayern brought in Germany international Manuel Neuer that summer, while Kraft joined newly promoted Hertha Berlin on a free transfer.

Kraft, now 25, feels young goalkeepers should think twice about a move to the Allianz Arena as the prospects of first-team football are minimal given Neuer’s presence.

“When a 27/28-year-old is between the posts there, you have to make up your mind whether you want to line up behind him and go the extremely difficult -- maybe even impossible -- route [of trying to take his place],” Kraft told Sport Bild ahead of Hertha’s away game at the Allianz Arena next weekend.

Kraft followed Stefan Wessels and Michael Rensing as Bayern’s back-up keeper. Wessels, 34, retired in 2012, while Rensing, 29, currently sits on the bench at second-tier club Fortuna Duesseldorf.

That means Kraft is the only one of the three, who were all hailed as future Germany internationals, to now play regularly for another Bundesliga side.

Explaining why the trio had failed to live up to expectations with Bayern, he said: “Great things are expected of a Bayern keeper. At the same time you don’t get a lot of match practice.”

Kraft, at least, is enjoying a renaissance. While Hertha were relegated after his first year in Berlin, they returned to the top flight this season and currently sit fourth in the table, having conceded only nine goals in as many matches.

The goalkeeper, contracted until 2015, has stopped 79 percent of the shots he has faced, and he said: “I think I have undergone a good development. I feel good, that I get better with every year. Playing in the second tier has helped me as it improved my concentration.

“We need to stay sharp so we can win more points. Contentment is poison.”

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