Derek Rae: How I fell in love with German soccer, culture and the Bundesliga

“What is it about you and Germany?” This is an inquiry I get rather a great deal. As a Scot whose telecom ventures have taken me around the globe since first getting the receiver expertly in 1986, no nation has had a hang on me very like the place that is known for bratwurst, BMWs, Beckenbauer and obviously, Bayern Munich.

The seed was planted in 1974, when West Germany facilitated the World Cup in the Cold War days, and the nation’s division included interest and secret for a then-curious 7-year-old football aficionado. As much as this was a drenching in the best brandishing competition on earth, it produced an enthusiasm for everything German, especially after the DDR public group from the East vanquished their more stylish Western partners in a coincidental game.

Derek Rae, ESPN’s TV voice of the Bundesliga, is here with the first of his week by week segments on why Germany, its language and its football are important for his personality.

On the off chance that you look on a guide, you’ll see exactly how close the north bank of Germany is to my home city of Aberdeen; to be sure, the North Sea numerous hundreds of years back was one of Europe’s initial expressways.

Topographically we were close, yet etymologically far away, or so I thought. At the point when I started learning German at elementary school two or after three years, I understood it easily fell into place for me. A portion of the throaty sounds were much the same as the Doric tongue of my folks predecessors actually spoken in the fishing and farmland networks of North East Scotland. As a radio aficionado, I found that because of our beach front area, we could regularly get a radio sign from Hamburg in the nights. Thus, NDR (North German Broadcasting) came into my life, from multiple points of view transforming it for good.

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It turned into an every day custom. Doing schoolwork with NDR in the foundation implied a blend of news, governmental issues, music – I can disclose to you a ton about German fly from the 1970s and ’80s – and, when there were matches, football! That implied customary servings of the Bundesliga. Mysterious German scribes like Jochen Hageleit and Gerd Rubenbauer painted distinctive pictures with their words. As my language cognizance aptitudes improved, I was shipped to a mystery, energizing German world I realized I needed to be important for.

Voyaging abroad was an extravagance scarcely any families could consider back in the early 1980s, yet my folks humored me in 1982 by taking us on vacation, via vehicle and afterward ship, to Hamburg. It’s interesting the things you recollect about your first visit to another nation; my memory is of how wide the roads appeared contrasted with home, the cycle ways and consistent ringer ringing from cyclists as we cluelessly attacked their space; the scents of bratwurst and mustard. Also there was an offhand visit to the Volksparkstadion, the home of Hamburger SV, who might be delegated European club champions the next year.

It was summer, and oh no games to go to, yet my dad and I essentially strolled inside the unfilled arena and took in the area of immeasurability, the gigantic rambling patios. I envisioned the husky Horst Hrubesch jumping to head home a brand name cross from Manni Kaltz.

Rae, left, presents with Steffen Freund, previous German worldwide turned co-pundit, before Borussia Dortmund’s famous ‘Yellow Wall.’ Courtesy of Derek Rae

In the ’80s, my German instructor at Hazlehead Academy, Bryan Steel, was a gigantic impact, detecting he had an understudy in me who appreciated the topic. Bryan had an individual educator companion in the little network of Obersuhl, which rode the fringe of West and East Germany. I initially went there as a feature of a composed school trip, yet again later in 1985, among school and college, financing my excursion by functioning as a mailman in Aberdeen for the initial segment of the mid year. Remaining with Bryan’s associate, Erich, and assisting in the neighborhood school, shown me living in a little German town, and given the vicinity toward the East German fringe monitors, with their lookouts and optics, I actually have right up ’til the present time “die Grenze im Kopf” (“the border in my head”).

In spite of not having the option to go into the DDR around then, I went through ends of the week on trains all over West Germany. It was late August, right off the bat in the football season, and treated myself to the same number of matches as I could, starting with the nearest second-level group, Hessen Kassel, and afterward Frankfurt, with its awesome lush stroll to the arena. Borussia Dortmund, Schalke, Bochum and my undisputed top choice, Cologne, would before long follow. I was unable to get enough of the “Spieltag” (“matchday”) schedule: travel from the railroad station to the bratwurst stand, get nearby papers, hop on open vehicle to the game, connect with fans in transit, stand and wonder about the arena from outside. It’s a normal I’ve kept up when on the job in Germany, before the pandemic shut down it.

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Until the most recent decade or somewhere in the vicinity, my discourse work just seldom included this football nation I love such a great amount of, despite the fact that there were endless outings as a fan. Truly, there were games to cover in Germany in my BBC Scotland years, yet they were all from the Scottish clubs’ point of view. I was constantly pleased, obviously, when later as primary analyst for the Champions League on ESPN, the task was to cover any German group. I felt being conversant in the language and with the coming of the web, beginning the majority of my days watching German news improved my ability. I kept on listening eagerly to the Bundesliga and other German substance on NDR, WDR and an assortment of different stations similarly as a major aspect of awakening every day.

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In 2009, I got back to be one of the pundits on ESPN in the UK. Throughout the long term, I detected via online media that the individuals who truly cherished German football appeared to like having a close companion at the receiver. I tried commentating on player to player, however attempting to share the information and energy in me.




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Not long after that the DFL, who run the top two divisions in Germany, started to develop their reality feed discourses. To stop a long story, I started to work for them when different responsibilities permitted. It seemed like a marriage made in paradise, a genuine work of affection with a phenomenal group of makers and analysts situated in my German home away from home, Cologne. Lately, I’ve been fortunate enough to be nearby to commentate on a considerable lot of the defining moments for the DFL from Dortmund versus Bayern, to the Revierderby (Dortmund versus Schalke), to Union Berlin (that East German association once more) securing advancement to the Bundesliga just because.

Presently everything completes the cycle with ESPN, the telecom home for the heft of my profession. At the point when my associate Kay Murray in front of this present season’s Bayern-Schalke opener presented me as “the voice of our coverage and the voice of the Bundesliga for so many,” it truly implied a great deal. Much obliged, Kay.

I’ll be commentating on all the Bundesliga games that air on ESPN straight TV networks in the U.S., springing up to discuss the group on ESPN FC, and composing a week after week section in this space committed to German football. Little did the 7-year old kid in Aberdeen recognize what the 1974 World Cup would prompt.