EXCLUSIVE: Feyenoord captain Gernot Trauner has high hopes for Arne Slot at Liverpool

Trauner has no doubt that Slot will succeed in England
Trauner has no doubt that Slot will succeed in England Profimedia
He's achieved instant cult status, made it to a Conference League Final, won the Eredivisie and the cup, and became captain. It's safe to say that Gernot Trauner (32) and Feyenoord are a perfect match.

In this exclusive interview with Flashscore, the Austrian looks back on the last three years there, provides insights into his injury-plagued 2023/24 season, looks forward to Euro 2024 and team boss Ralf Rangnick staying on, and explains why he believes new Liverpool coach Arne Slot will be successful in the Premier League.

Gernot, you finished the 2023/24 season in second place in the Eredivisie. How would you sum it up?

"It was another very good season. Compared to last year, when we were crowned champions, we even scored more points. PSV Eindhoven played an outstanding season this year, but we can still be very satisfied. We got off to a bad start with the first two games, but all in all, it was a very successful season. And we crowned it with the cup win."

Unfortunately, your personal season was characterised by injuries. However, you were able to get back on the pitch in the cup final and also scored your first goal in a Feyenoord shirt in the last league match. How are you doing at the moment?

"I'm really pleased that I finally scored my first goal for Feyenoord. I think you could see from the celebrations that it meant a lot to me and that my teammates were so happy for me. Some were even happier than when I scored myself. 

"As for the cup final, it was a huge goal of mine to be there. I worked very hard in rehab to get fit in time. I came into the game in the last quarter of an hour, in a very tricky phase when we were a man down, to defend the lead. The fact that I was able to play my part in the final makes winning the cup all the more special."

You moved from LASK to the Netherlands in the summer of 2021. You immediately achieved cult status with the nickname 'Kale Kletser' (bald talker) and backed it up very good performances on the pitch. You also unexpectedly reached the final of the UEFA Europa Conference League. The following year, Feyenoord became champions. This year you are the captain and you won the cup. I guess you could say you did everything right in this transfer...

"I've often thought back to what would have happened if I hadn't made the transfer. It was the best decision of my career to move to Feyenoord. An outstanding club with outstanding fans, but still very familiar. They made it very easy for me to settle in and I'm also pleased that I've been very well received by the fans so far.

"Each of the past three years has been very special. In the first year, we reached the Conference League final after we started very early in the qualifiers, a mega journey. In the second year, we developed extremely well and won the championship. We also made the third year golden with the cup title. I am over the moon and hope that I will continue to have a very good time at Feyenoord."

What characterises you as a team?

"Everyone here knows what their tasks are. The coaching team is very clear in its approach. Everything is very homogenous. As a team, we are also characterised by the fact that we never give up, have turned many games around and have developed a very attractive style of play over time. The squad has become very mature because we have mastered really good challenges both nationally and internationally. That has driven us to peak performances."

The dream of the Champions League has also come true for you. How does it feel to lead your team onto the pitch at this level and to hear the anthem in a sold-out De Kuip or Estadio Metropolitano?

"Hearing the Champions League anthem is amazing. I was able to hear it once before with LASK in the qualifying playoff, but in the group stage at the highest international level, it's something you dream of as a child. It's something that makes me extremely proud."

Coach Arne Slot is leaving Feyenoord for Liverpool. He brought you to Rotterdam three years ago. What characterises him personally and professionally?

"Of course, it hurts us, we would have liked to have had him with us for longer. But I'm not crying for him because it was clear that he would take the next step at some point. It was only a matter of time before he found the right club. Liverpool and Arne Slot could be a perfect match. I wish him all the best.

"He was a very important factor in me coming to Feyenoord and has always relied on me. He's a tremendous specialist and has incredible ideas in terms of ball possession, build-up play and positioning. A lot of detail in running and passing. There is no pass without an idea behind it. He tries to move the opponents and find open spaces. He has a very good feel for what he has to tell the team in meetings, how he has to treat people, and whether he has to tickle someone.

"He is of a very, very high level. I can definitely imagine that things will also go very well for him in the Premier League."

Preparations for Euro 2024 will begin in a few days and you've managed to make the squad. What does that mean to you?

"The European Championships were always in the back of my mind. Unfortunately, the year was constantly on and off due to injuries, but I knew that I could still make it. It's great that I made it into the big (provisional) squad. Now I'm going to do everything I can to convince Ralf Rangnick and his staff to include me in the final roster."

Team boss Ralf Rangnick has, surprisingly for many, turned down an offer from Bayern Munich. What is it about him as a coach that makes the national team play so well under him?

"The fact that the journey with Ralf Rangnick will continue after the Euros is the best solution for the OFB (Austrian Football Association). Everyone is mega-happy that it worked out. Turning down an offer from Bayern speaks in favour of the OFB and also the team manager. That doesn't happen every day. He has certainly given it a lot of thought and knows how important he is to the team. This decision is extremely important for Austrian football. His job is not over yet and I think he still has a lot to do."

You also played over 200 games in the ADMIRAL Bundesliga and caused a furore internationally with LASK. How closely do you still follow the domestic league?

"Of course. I still follow LASK, of course, and we played against Sturm Graz in the Europa League last year. I still know some of the players and am in regular contact with them. A lot has happened this year with Sturm's double. When you meet up with the national team, it's always exciting to hear other people's stories."

Finally, what are your goals for Euro 2024 and the next season with Feyenoord?

"Primarily, I hope that I stay 100% fit so that I can be in the final Euros squad. Of course, it would be nice to play, because I don't think there will be many more chances for me to play for Austria at such a big tournament. I would be incredibly happy if I could also play my part on the pitch. Let's see what my role will be.

"At Feyenoord, it's still a bit early to set new goals. But we are hungry for more. It will be a big goal to win another title next season. But first, we have to replace the coaching team and absorb the philosophy of the new staff. You never know how quickly that will take effect. In any case, I'm positive because the club has developed really well and is very stable."


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