“I wasn’t feeling well. I wasn’t feeling well even before the World Cup,” Martina Voss-Tecklenburg told German public broadcaster ZDF in an exclusive interview, her first since the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, where Germany failed to advance past the group stage.
Voss-Tecklenburg, who led Germany to the final of EURO 2022 in England the previous summer, went on to describe some of the symptoms she had suffered from after falling ill before the post-tournament analysis process had been completed.
These included panic attacks, insomnia, and pressure on her chest. She said that after a conversation with her husband she “almost completely collapsed.” She was plagued by “fears, an uncertainty and emptiness in my head,” she said, describing the feeling as being as if “the plug had been pulled out of me.”
Out of the public eye
Her doctor ordered what amounted to weeks of bed rest and prescribed medication, which Voss-Tecklenburg said caused unpleasant side effects. She also suffered through a series of infections.
“I was ill, and I didn’t know how long this process would take,” Voss-Teckenburg said. “I realized that I just had to be there for myself. And that’s what I tried to do.”
In the meantime, assistant coach Britta Carlson took charge of the team in September for a 2-0 Nations League defeat by Denmark and a 4-0 victory over Iceland, which kept them in the hunt for qualification for the 2024 Olympics.
In early October, the German FA (DFB) then appointed 72-year-old Horst Hrubesch as interim coach, a role he had held between the sacking of Steffi Jones and the hiring of Voss-Tecklenburg in 2018.
The DFB made the move during weeks in which little was known publicly about Voss-Tecklenburg’s condition. “We also have to be prepared in case there is no return,” the DFB’s managing director, Andreas Rettig said at the time.
Guest lecture raises eyebrows
In fact, Voss-Teckenburg wasn’t heard from again until mid-October, when she delivered a guest lecture to members of the Bavarian Dental Association. By this time, the former Germany coach had completed her recovery and was on vacation — as approved by the DFB.
Still, the DFB appeared caught off guard by the development.
“The DFB has taken note of Voss-Tecklenburg’s appearance at the Bavarian Dental Association,” it said in a statement. “A joint discussion is to take place immediately after the end of the vacation.”
Germany midfielder Lena Oberdorf also appeared irritated by the move, saying it raised “a few question marks” in her mind.
“I would have wished for something different. For example, we could have first analyzed what happened at the World Cup and then she could have gone on vacation.”
By this time, communications between the former coach and the German FA were being handled exclusively by the lawyers, as Voss-Tecklenburg confirmed in the ZDF interview.
She also admitted that although she had informed the DFB that she intended to make public appearances after the end of her sick leave, she hadn’t handled the situation as well as she could have.
“In hindsight, you can say: How stupid — (it was a) mistake,” Voss-Tecklenburg said. “But I had to pay the price to a certain extent, both with my health problems and in the media.”
In early November, the DFB and Voss-Tecklenburg, whose contract ran until 2025, agreed to part company.
However, the former coach said she expected to have a “private” meeting with DFB President Bernd Neuendorf in the near future, in which she plans to tell him “how I felt and what touched and affected me and perhaps also disappointed and irritated me to a certain extent.”
Edited by: James Thorogood
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