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18.04.2022Bayer 04

Boeder: Leverkusen showed me the perfect way

Born in Essen, six years at the Schalke 04 academy – and the crucial steps to a career in professional football made under the Bayer Cross. Lukas Boeder, today celebrating his 25th birthday, joined the youth section at Bayer 04 in the summer of 2012. The following five years of his development were not only spent at Kurtekotten.
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In an interview with bayer04.de, the central defender at third division club FC Saarbrücken talks about the reasons for his move to the Werkself, the support of Bayer 04 for youth players during school years and his targets for his future in the game.

Lukas, many congratulations on your 25th birthday on behalf of Bayer 04. How are you spending the day?

Boeder: Thank you. We've got the day off today so I’ll spend it with my family. They came up at the weekend and my girlfriend's family is also here. We'll go for walks, eat together – and take everything easy.

Let's look at the start of your sporting career at a young age: Like many children, you started playing football early on. And you joined the youth set-up at Schalke 04 at the age of nine. You then went on to play for the Royal Blues for six years before answering the call from Bayer 04 in 2012. What made you join Leverkusen back then?

Boeder: At that time everything went through my father as I didn't have an agent at that point. Leverkusen inquired again and again over a long period whether I was happy at Schalke 04. That was the case but what I wasn't really happy with the academic situation. Then I had my first discussions with Leverkusen. They showed me the absolutely perfect way and I was able to do my Abitur exams at the Landrat Lukas School.

What was the team like when you started at Leverkusen?

Boeder: The academic aspect was decisive for the move. But, of course, it wasn't a step backwards from a sporting perspective; Bayer 04 had a very strong 97 intake. Back then I was living with the host family of Frank Ditgens (now the educational director at Bayer 04, ed.). That option instead of a boarding school was very important to my parents. And, looking back, it was the ideal solution for my development.

You were with the Bayer 04 U19s in the UEFA Youth League and you played against Barcelona, AS Roma and Tottenham Hotspur. How do you rate that competition and the experience young players can gain in it?

Boeder: The competition was less successful for us from a sporting perspective. Of course, there were also several highlight matches against youth teams from the big European clubs. Above all, I remember one scene: a great free kick goal in St Petersburg. But these matches were not crucial for my individual sporting development. There were too few of them. I got more – I think – from the daily work in training and the league matches.

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At that time you didn't just play for the U19s but also trained with the first team and also completed your school education. Was that the most stressful time of your career up to then?

Boeder: A lot of people say the career of a professional footballer doesn’t take up too much time. I can say: It was definitely stressful at the time. (He laughs). The day mostly started at six in the morning and you only usually got home late in the evening. School, then the lunch break and then straight to training – that was quite a lot to do. Although it was stressful it was great time nevertheless. I was together with friends and teammates all the time.

What was the support from Bayer 04 like at that time?

Boeder: I think the option of being at the Landrat Lucas school was just the right thing for me. The conditions were definitely right there for a good academic qualification. There were a lot of people making everything possible for the players and they were constantly in contact with the club to provide the best possible circumstances.

Are you still in contact with teammates from your time with the Bayer 04 youth sides?

Boeder: Yes, above all with Benny Henrichs and Kai Havertz. I used to meet up with Benny and my time at Halle (Henrichs plays for RB Leipzig, ed.). Otherwise we regularly communicate via social media or via WhatsApp. And who knows, perhaps we'll all be able to meet up again in the summer break.

How close were you to making your professional debut? Under Roger Schmidt, you were in the Werkself Bundesliga squad 15 times and once in the Champions League and Europa League plus the DFB Cup.

Boeder: Probably too close from my own perspective. (He laughs). No, joking apart. I'd say that I was close to coming on once or twice. Unfortunately hope started diminishing at some point. I looked for the reasons in myself. I don't think I did enough in training.

You left Bayer 04 five years ago. What happened after that?

Boeder: I imagined it would be easier to find a new club. I ended up at Paderborn. I was on loan there and I was able to gain my first experience in professional football in the third division. We would have gone down except for the enforced relegation of 1860 Munich. I signed permanent terms with Paderborn when I was certain we would stay in the third division. Looking back it was a very good decision.

What happened then

Boeder: After that I moved around the third division. I wouldn't recommend that constant change to anybody. Nevertheless, I was able to gain a lot of experience in the third division at a young age.

 

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You've been at FC Saarbrücken since the late summer. Would you say it was a good choice?

Boeder: Definitely. Of course, there were several offers from Regional League clubs after my time at Halle. That didn't really appeal to me. I preferred to wait. At some point, Saarbrücken came to me and then everything happened very fast. Now I can say that that move was definitely worth it – for both sides. I was more or less unemployed, I quickly established myself and became the first choice in the team. That meant I lived up to my own ambition. That helped my ego which every professional athlete needs to be successful.

Where do you think your career in football will take you?

Boeder: Obviously, every professional athlete aims to do their personal best. I can definitely say I want to play in the second division – and as soon as possible and hopefully over the long term. Of course, preferably with the club I’m playing for. Another target of mine is also to play at the BayArena again. We'll see whether that might happen in the DFB Cup or through moving up the leagues. The important thing is just to work hard for your targets every day. Then everything will take care of itself.

Do you still follow the Werkself games?

Boeder: I have to admit I haven't watched much football in recent years but instead I have tended to switch off away from the game and dedicate myself to other things. But this season it's different again. I've watched a lot of Bundesliga simply because football in the league is really brilliant this year. Leverkusen are definitely one of the top teams. Whether they make it to the Champions League will mainly depend on form on the day in the final matches. But the approach of the coach and the club is definitely very promising.

Lukas Boeder's clubs:

From 2021 FC Saarbrücken

2020 to 2021 Hallescher FC

2019 to 2020 MSV Duisburg

2017 to 2019 SC Paderborn 07

2015 to 2017 Bayer 04

2012 to 2015 Bayer 04 Youth

2006 to 2012 FC Schalke 04 Youth

2003 to 2006 SV Burgaltendorf Youth

To 2003 SV Kupferdreh Youth

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