Christoph Daum and his fight against cancer

trainer legend
“How’s that going?”: Christoph Daum and his fight against cancer

“You just have to get up again and again,” says Christoph Daum

© Sebastian Räppold/Matthias Koch

Christoph Daum has lung cancer and is currently undergoing his second chemotherapy. But he doesn’t want to arouse pity. Instead, the former football coach is fighting the disease with all his might. He can’t help it.

Monday morning in the penultimate week of June begins a little unusually for Christoph Daum. In the best summer weather, he has made himself comfortable on the terrace of his huge villa in Cologne, the birds are chirping in the background of his garden, Daum is reading an English book on economic policy. “Today I’m just lying here on the terrace,” says the 69-year-old on the phone – and that’s exactly what’s unusual. Actually, Christoph Daum never just lies around. He needs movement, he doesn’t like standing still. “You have to keep getting active” – ​​that’s one of his favorite phrases. It’s always been like that. Until cancer came and changed his life.

The long-time Bundesliga coach was diagnosed last year. Initially, no focus was found, only several metastases in different places in the body, especially in the lungs. Daum got the full program, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, countless drugs. Some time later the metastases had disappeared, and Daum’s hair was gone too. A few weeks later the hair came back, but so did the metastases. He is now in the middle of his second chemotherapy: “Everything is fine so far, I would say.” Even if it weren’t so, he would probably never admit it, at least publicly.

Christoph Daum was always a fighter

Christoph Daum was always a fighter, his biography almost logically created this image of him. Having grown up in the heart of the Ruhr area and not having any great footballing talent, he had to work his way up into the coaching elite elsewhere. The big Bavarians around Uli Hoeneß laughed at him at the beginning when he attacked them with a big mouth. Daum was only noticed when he attacked Munich in the table. In 1992 he even won the German championship with VfB Stuttgart, and almost ten years later he was to become national soccer coach. Until he stumbled upon the cocaine affair. His career seemed over. But Daum came back.

“You can fall. It doesn’t matter how many times you fall. You just have to get up.” Another typical Daum saying. He could also say that now during his cancer. In fact, he has repeatedly revealed similar wisdom in interviews. You can laugh about it or dismiss such sayings as flat. Typical Thumb. However, the fact is that he has always come back. When he fled to the USA after the coke scandal, he was back just a few weeks later and started his next coaching job. He even worked his way back into the Bundesliga via abroad. Even the cancer hasn’t gotten him down so far.

“Of course there are phases when you’re not doing so well, when you ask yourself the question: How does it end? How does it go on?” he says. “But you also have to allow such negative thoughts, accept them, they are part of life. The only important thing is to get back into action quickly, to get into the positive mode.” He does this by trying again and again to become active despite everything. Daum likes to cook, so sometimes he goes shopping and then cooks. The golf course has also become a ritual, and if the body allows it, it still goes to the driving range from time to time. Or just go for a walk in the forest in front of his house.

Cancer changed his life

Cancer has changed his life, but there’s no way Daum wants to let it take control. For him, each day currently begins with three pills, it used to be seven. Then he tries to drink a lot of water “to flush out all the infusion materials,” he says. He goes to the clinic almost every two days to have some blood tests done. So if cancer already dominates large parts of his everyday life, then please not all of it.

A short time ago, for example, he was still in Berlin. Daum has been involved with the German Diabetes Aid for years. In the capital he coached FC Diabetologie in the game against FC Bundestag. The MPs were significantly stronger than in previous years, says Daum. “They’re getting younger too.” Nevertheless, Daum and his team won 2:1 in the end. In the next few weeks, no more trips are planned because of the chemotherapy (“These poisons are absolute energy robbers”).

Although he’s even pain-free at the moment: “How do you say: I’m fine given the circumstances.” When he says that, he even has to laugh at himself. He’s still lying on the terrace in his garden, more than an hour. But not for long, because his brother Eberhard is about to arrive at the airport. Daum wants to pick him up, and then the brief rest is over: “We’re going to the airport in a moment, then there’s action again – and that’s a good thing.”

tis/ Nils Bastek

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