FIFA.com chatted exclusively to the amicable Dusseldorf native about his career, passion for football and hopes that Germans will be honoured at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2014.
FIFA.com: Are there any similarities between football and golf?
Martin Kaymer: As different as the two sports are, there are certain similarities: discipline, concentration, patience, tactics and stamina are vital in both. Many professional footballers like to play golf as a hobby - and it works the other way too. I still enjoy playing football. The two sports complement each other in a certain way.
You used to play football, so what made you decide to focus on golf?
I would have liked to have continued to do both, but when I was 14 or 15 I had to make a decision if I was serious about embarking on a career in either of them. It came down to thinking things over and following my gut instinct for golf. I just felt I could be more successful in it. On top of that, I like the fact that golf is an individual sport. I’m my own boss and can decide for myself when and where I train and which tournaments to take part in. Of course, that requires a huge amount of discipline and self-motivation, but it also gives you freedom.
Have you had any contact with the Germany players? You were in their training camp prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
It was a very important experience for me to visit the German national team. Even before the tournament kicked off, their focus, team spirit and discipline were very tangible. That was really impressive and I took a lot away from that visit. I still have close contact with some of the players and during the World Cup we kept each other updated with our latest news and congratulated each another on our respective successes: they complimented me for my triumph at the U.S. Open and I applauded their many victories at the World Cup - and of course the fantastic win in the Final in Rio de Janeiro. It was a great summer for Germany.
You were born in Dusseldorf but support the football team of arch-rivals Cologne. How did that happen?
During my lifetime Cologne have never been in contention for the Bundesliga title, but the passion and atmosphere at the club, among the fans and in the city, have always fascinated me. I have fond memories of going to watch them back when they played at the Mungersdorfer stadium.
In an interview you once said “football would have been more comfortable”. What did you mean by that? Do you think you could have been a successful footballer too?
I probably wouldn’t be an international or a World Cup winner [laughs]. But maybe I could have earned a living as a professional, who knows? When I talked about being ‘comfortable’ I was merely referring to the fact that I sometimes envy the way footballers get to go about their work. Of course they have to travel a great deal too, but the majority of the time they live and train in the city where their club is based and have their families with them. Things are more complicated for us golfers because almost all of the big, important tournaments take place in the USA or in other countries. But don’t get me wrong: I’m absolutely delighted with my job.
Which position would you have played in as a footballer?
As a striker. Thomas Muller and I would definitely be a lethal partnership [laughs].
Were you able to follow the World Cup during the U.S. Open?
By happy coincidence my start times never collided with the kick-offs of the German national team. That meant I was able to watch all of their games live and keep my fingers crossed for them. I tried to keep up with as many of the other matches as possible but of course I missed a few.
Did you celebrate after Germany won the title?
Of course! I watched the Final in England with my caddie Craig as it was only a couple of days before the British Open. Craig is Scottish but I more or less forced him to celebrate with me.
In January the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala 2014 will take place. Who is your favourite to be crowned World Player of the Year?
Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are without doubt among the best footballers of our time and deserve to be nominated again, but I’d give it to our World Cup hero Manuel Neuer. He’d deserve to win it because he’s been crucial to the huge successes Germany and Bayern Munich have had.
And what about the World Coach of the Year Award? Is Joachim Low the frontrunner?
He would definitely deserve it. He’s been Germany coach for several years now and only ever narrowly lost out in major tournaments in the semi-finals or the final. In 2014 he finally triumphed and won the biggest prize there is in football. Joachim Low is a top-class coach.
Next year Canada will host the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015™. Are you also interested in women's football?
Yes, especially as Germany's women's team have been one of the best in the world for decades. I think the way the German FA's youth work operates in such a sustainable manner is really impressive. Good new players are constantly coming through and their chances at the forthcoming World Cup aren't bad at all.
How would you sum up your year?
I'm satisfied because 2014 was a very good year for me. I won the Players Championship, the US Open and more recently the PGA Grand Slam of Golf too. They're all very important individual titles that’ll stay with me forever, especially the US Open as it was one of the majors. I also won the Ryder Cup for the third time with Team Europe, so it was a nice season with plenty of highlights. Nevertheless, I want to keep improving next year.
What are your aims for 2015?
Overall I'd like to be more consistent and do well at all of the majors. I'd really like to win the British Open, which is the only major played in Europe, at some point in my career. In 2015 it's taking place at St. Andrews, which is one of my absolute favourite courses. Winning over here would probably be as good as it gets for me. That's why I'm really looking forward to the coming season.