FWA Q&A

FWA Q&A: RAPHAEL HONIGSTEIN

RAPHAEL HONIGSTEIN on being tipped by old ladies…problems with the Gents in Munich…and a cell in Istanbul

Have you ever worked in a profession other than football?
I used to write about music and fashion before. I met and interviewed a few cool people, but the overriding memory from those days is a 10-hour wait in a New York recording studio while Timbaland was having his hair cut. At school, I used to pack bags at Munich’s premier delicatessen store – Käfer. It was very badly paid, about 5DM an hour, but old ladies would sometimes tip nicely.

Most memorable match?
Tough one. 1999 in Barcelona and 2005 in Istanbul are hard to beat.

The one moment in football you would put on a DVD?
Patrik Andersson’s last-minute goal [for Bayern] against Hamburger SV in 2001. I’d happily watch it again and again for 90 minutes.

Best stadium?
I love San Siro. I went to see the Milan derby in 1996 in the stands and it was just an incredible experience.

…and the worst?
The old Olympic stadium in Munich was probably the worst venue for football, starting with the Gents.

Your personal new-tech disaster?
I’ve always been lucky to file somehow, but I had a few very close shaves. I recall running into a newsagent outside Upton Park and asking whether I could plug my laptop into their phone socket – the press room didn’t have one. And I once spent three hours at Moscow airport without an internet connection, begging the ladies at reception in vain to let me into one of the lounges. In the end, I was saved by an English-speaking sales assistant from a mobile shop who sold me a local sim card and set up tethering for me.

Biggest mistake?
Probably taking a bus full of  well-lubricated England fans from Geneva station to the stadium for a friendly against Argentina. They were singing the German bomber songs and similar ditties and I felt as if everyone was staring at me. One lad tried to start a conversation with. Desperate to keep my cover, I put on the strongest English accent I could muster – a weird Cockney-by way of-Mersey  concoction. He looked really confused and left me alone after that.

Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
I often get confused with Guillem Balague. I guess it’s the [occasional] beard.

Most media friendly manager?
I have to say Wenger. Always professional. Never dodges a question.

Best ever player?
Probably Messi. But when I grew up, watching Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in his pomp was an awe-inspiring experience.

Best ever teams (club and international)?
Sacchi’s Milan and 1972’s West Germany.

Best pre-match grub?
Chelsea is always a delight, Arsenal used to brilliant before they phased out fish & chips (a crime in my book).

Best meal had on your travels?
Spatenhaus in Munich, San Carlo in Manchester,  Butchery and Wine in Warsaw, Txistu in Madrid and Reina in Istanbul  are all great, but best ever was Da Bolognese in Rome.

…and the worst?
A toss-up between something from a Portuguese service station at 4am and Sushi in Warsaw – food poisoning for three days.

Best hotel stayed in?
The Semiramis in Athens was pretty spectacular, even though “my stay” was a night on the floor of Gabriele Marcotti’s room.

…and the worst?
No idea of the name, but I once booked a room in Istanbul via expedia that turned out to be a windowless cell in a garage. They gave me the money back.

Favourite football writer?
Henry Winter, Sid Lowe, Barney Ronay and Paul Hayward are all brilliant in different ways. I also enjoy Daniel Taylor and Martin Samuel.

Favourite radio/TV commentator?
Martin Tyler. He’s also one of the nicest, most genuine people in the business.

If you could introduce one change to improve PR between football clubs and football writers what would it be?
Too many press officers in the PL are not aware that the players work for the clubs, not the other way round.

One sporting event outside football you would love to experience?
Honestly? Nothing else compares.

Last book read?
Absolute Beginners, Colin MacInnes.

Favourite current TV programme?
Mad Men. Best thing I’ve ever seen on television, apart from Captain Future (80s Japanese cartoon series)

Your most prized football memorabilia?
I have a mid-80s shirt worn by “cult hero” Reinhold Mathy in a European Cup game for Bayern.

Advice to anyone coming into the football media world?
Only do it if you really like football. Because the hours are long and the money’s not that great.

*Raphael Honigstein, a native of Bavaria, can re read in The Guardian and is a regular contributor to talkSPORT.

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