With kick-off for the FIFA World Cup just hours away, there’s plenty of feverish speculation as to who will lift the trophy on July 15th. Will England’s young guns finally lay to rest the ghosts of ’66? Can Lionel Messi lead Argentina to victory and bring home his first world title? Or can Brazil erase the memories of their last World Cup on home soil, where they were humiliated by Germany, 7-1 in the semi-finals, to knock them out of their own tournament?
And speaking of the Germans. The current world champions, who just always seem to find a way through, are many pundits’ favourites to emerge as outright winners again. As if the prospect of Timo Werner, Thomas Muller or Mario Gomez wasn’t enough to keep international defenders awake at night, we can reveal that the Germans have a secret weapon in their camp. His name is Patrick Broome.
He’s not a defender, midfielder or striker and he doesn’t even appear on the team sheet but, as the team’s yoga guru, he was an integral part of die Mannschaft lifting the World Cup in 2014 for the fourth time.
“Football and yoga go wonderfully together,” Patrick reveals in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “It’s a very good addition for athletes to experience their body through different movements and to use their body in a non-competitive way. On top of that, it’s a good way of preventing injuries. We can stretch and extend muscles that are overused and relax them. It helps with recovery and it’s a wonderful way to relax. At major tournaments all the players complain that they can’t sleep because there’s so much tension. Yoga’s good to help establish a bit of distance and to feel more relaxed again.”
Patrick was on hand when the German team landed in Russia on Tuesday to ensure that all the players had stretched out properly after their 1400-mile trip from Frankfurt and he will be offering daily, voluntary, yoga sessions for as long as the tournament favourites stay in the competition.
The certified psychologist, who also runs two yoga studios in Munich, schedules 45-minute classes to keep the players supple and loose and aid in the post-match recovery process.
“My teaching is a combination of three decades of studies,” Patrick reveals on his Facebook page. “Ancient teachings and own practice come together. I teach what I feel, and that’s what my students feel. Information can be forgotten, sensations not so simple.”
The focus of his yoga sessions with players is typically on their legs and on the knee-area, but he also puts emphasis on back and hip movements, as he believes most football-related injuries stem from those areas.
"When I'm travelling with the team and meet members of different delegations, sometimes they’re amazed that a yoga instructor is part of the staff,” he admits.
However, Patrick believes that yoga’s benefits for modern day footballers playing in the most prestigious and highly pressurised tournament of their careers cannot be underestimated: “Players recover quicker because they are helping themselves physically, but they are also coming down mentally after the game. Most players can’t sleep after games. If we do yoga on the same day or the day afterwards, then they sleep deeply.”
Sometimes the players will go to Patrick shortly before games too, where he leads them through a series of short stretches that last only 10 to 15 seconds to ensure that muscles are primed for 90-minutes.
And one of the players who will surely be taking advantage of Patrick’s presence in the German camp is Thomas Muller, who has already bagged ten goals in the finals and is one of the all-time great World Cup hotshots.
Incredibly, out of all the teams competing in Russia, only Argentina have scored more goals than the German superstar and he will be looking to go further this Summer and try to break the record 16 goals set by his former team mate Miroslav Klose.
“A lot of the exercises are toned down and geared towards football - in concrete terms that means I don't do anything that could risk a player getting injured,” Patrick said. “Everything flows from physiotherapy. It’s yoga that’s tailor-made for professional athletes.”
At 28, Muller will surely be relying on the time with Patrick to keep him injury free, so that he has every chance to end the tournament not only a record-breaker but also a world-beater.
For more information about the fantastic Patrick Broome, please visit: http://www.patrickbroome.de/
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We would like to give credit to Fifa.com and the Hindustan Times for the images used in this article.