TSG Hoffenheim Director of International Relations Lutz Pfannenstiel has always been a well-travelled individual. The former shot-stopper is known for being the first and only professional footballer to have plied his trade on every continent in the world. Indeed, the World Cup more or less feels like a home game for the 45-year-old, who seemed to be in several places at once on some days during the tournament. He was a ZDF pundit, a studio guest for Swiss channel SRF, and a weekly columnist for "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung", "Passauer Neue Presse" and the online portal t-online. Pfannenstiel was in Zürich and Baden-Baden, as well as making appearances at the World Cup venues of Yekaterinburg and Kaliningrad. He pretty much made it around the football world in 30 days.
And everywhere he went the Niederbayer native flew the TSG flag on the international stage. "Many people spoke to me about TSG," explained Pfannenstiel after returning to his office at the training ground in Zuzenhausen. "Hoffenheim are now a household name all over the football world thanks to their successes over the course of the last two years," he continued. Whether it was in confidential conversations with ZDF expert and goalkeeping colleague Oliver Kahn, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr or the former Bayern man Zé Roberto in the Aktuelle Sportstudio, the unbelievable success story of his club, TSG Hoffenheim, always came up in conversation at some stage. Especially because a TSG first-teamer, Andrej Kramaric, made it all the way to the World Cup final.
"It's an unbelievable story. For Andrej himself, for Croatia and for TSG too of course," said Pfannenstiel, who also drew his own conclusions about some of the football played at the World Cup. "The typical strategy of keeping possession as an end in itself is outdated. It's almost entirely about speed now. Pressing, counter-pressing, quick switch-play, counter-attacks and high speed in everything you do." That wasn't the only notable trend he observed either: "Attacking set-pieces have become a real footballing weapon." For the 45-year-old, who works for TSG in the scouting department as well, there was naturally a lot of new talent to discover. "But that," explained Pfannenstiel, "will remain a trade secret".