The final full day in Orlando in 2017 consisted of a training session in the morning and the match against Atletico Mineiro in the evening at the ESPN World Wide of Sports. And even if there were a few tired legs the Werkself gave their all against the Brazilian top-flight side.
Lars Bender bounces back
23 outfield players completed full training before lunch with a focus on the ball and set pieces. Lars Bender trained on his own. "I'm getting better and better," said the skipper in the evening in an interview with bundesliga.de. "We've worked well at the training camp but we want to take the next steps without any pressure," added Bender who admitted there were a number of frustrating moments during his time in rehab. "It's hard to keep having to fight back. But anybody who knows me knows I will get up again." The captain leaves the training camp in a very positive mood and soon hopes to return to the training ground.
Rivaldo and Lincoln
The match against Atletico Mineiro attracted a number of former football greats. The former Schalke and FC Kaiserslautern pro Lincoln, who started at Atletico, plus the former international Rivaldo were at the ground that belongs to the Disney Group. The World Footballer of the Year 1999 is a friend of the Florida Cup. As part of his duties, he attended a go-kart race that the organisers of the tournament arranged with the former Formula One driver Rubens Barrichelo. What the former teammate of Michael Schumacher thinks of Bayer 04 and the lot of the eternal runner-up will be revealed on the Bayer 04 Facebook page in the next few days.
Go-karting with Barrichello
Barrichello was joined on the track by our mascot. Brian the Lion took part in the race for all mascots at the Florida Cup. Our lion looked the part in his kart and he made the podium. You can follow Brian's experiences on Snapchat.
Visit to children's hospital
As in previous years, a Bayer 04 delegation called in at a hospital in Orlando. And it goes without saying that Meinolf Sprink, director of fans and community affairs at Bayer 04, did not appear with empty hands. All the young patients received a Bayer 04 training top as well as a lot of attention and encouragement. Of course, most of them wanted to know how Chicharito was but interest in Bayer 04 as a club is on the increase according to Sprink.
Bayer 04 Soccer School
This year, Bayer 04 not only visited sick children but also helped out other youngsters. The Bayer 04 Soccer School was held under the Florida sunshine to show football Made in Germany to three different groups (with different disabilities, a Christian organisation and one from the MLS and Orlando City). The coaches were Jörg Kappenhagen, Christoph Binot and Christopher Korte, an American who completed an internship at Bayer 04 at the end of 2016 and helped to organise the groups. "When they heard that coaches were coming from the country of the World Cup winners they were highly enthusiastic," said Sprink who saw the the sessions attended by over 200 children as a complete success. "It's great to see people's eyes light up. It was a big hit."
And it appears to be sustainable. The match against Atletico Mineiro at the ESPN Worldwide of Sports stadium attracted lots of kids wearing training tops from the Bayer 04 Soccer School. They gave vocal support to their new favourite club and continuously chanted the name of their big hero: Chicharito.
Return flight to Frankfurt
The Werkself training camp 2017 in Orlando comes to an end on Thursday. There is one last training session on the pitches at the ChampionsGate Sports complex and the bus sets off in the direction of the airport at five in the afternoon. The flight takes off at 20.10 local time and is expected to land in Frankfurt on Friday at 10.50 CET. The last leg of the journey will be by bus to Leverkusen. The next match for Bayer 04 is on Tuesday 17 January at the Ulrich Haberland Stadium in a friendly against VfL Bochum. The game kicks off at 14.00 CET.
You can keep up-to-date with events in Florida round-the-clock via our hashtag #B04goesUSA. Just log on to Twitter,Facebook,Instagramand Snapchat (@bayer04snaps). Information on the Werkself training camp is available here in German, English and Spanish: >> http://www.bayer04.de/goesUSA <<.
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