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By Claudia Klatt (translated from German)

Tibor Weißenborn: Young, Dynamic, Successful

The Berliner Tibor Weißenborn has been voted the best up and coming player in the world at the World Cup in hockey.

Tibor Weißenborn (1)

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6. At the top of an arrest warrant for Tibor Weißenborn might be the following three words: young, dynamic, successful. It is not a coincidence that the same words are used to describe the German National Hockey team at the moment. It is composed a few older but also a number of much younger and talented players. They have with time matured into personalities without which the success of the German team would be inconceivable. Player personalities like Weissenborn, the talent from the Berliner Hockey Club.

A long way to the top

Weißenborn is only 20 years old, yet he still has a place in a team that will meet South Korea in the semi-final at the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur this Thursday. There, at the tournament in Malaysia, the Berliner has even made so many friends with his appearance that the FIH  gave him the 'Young Player of the Year Award'.

Young, dynamic, successful – that is one side of Weißenborn’s way of playing. The other can be characterised with two further words: bold and venturous. Despite his youth, the small, dark-haired player with number 14 already shows an admirable calm out on the field. Even against the assembled world elite in Kuala Lumpur.

The triumphant German team winners at the 10th Men's World Cup (2)

It was a long road surrounded by the best. At the age of five, Weißenborn began his career with the Berliner HC; he was introduced to the club by Florian Keller. Years of training and an upswing followed. Since then, Weißenborn has already completed more than 100 international matches; and that is in only three years. He fought his first effort for selection in March 1999 against Holland. This was no easy opponent for a debutant. The premiere became an event that shaped him. Weißenborn recalls, apart from the good result 4:4, particularly one thing best: 'It was fun.'

He has retained the fun to this day. Maybe this is also one of the reasons for his success; at the World Cup, the sporting soldier is always in the initial formation of the German team. This was not always the case; before the Olympic games 2000 the then coach of the national team, Paul Lissek, removed Weißenborn from his natural place in the selection. ' Very suddenly and without reason.'

Weißenborn honoured as world hockey player

Lissek, meanwhile, resigned as the national coach. He was followed by Bernhard Peters who brought a style into the team that suits Weissenborn.

'Peters allows more on the field; as far as Lissek goes, fault avoidance was called for', he says. 'As I sooner have weaknesses in defensive work and reluctantly play to the rear, the offensive style that we now play suits me more.'

Apparently this does not only apply to Weißenborn. Florian Kunz of Gladbach, who on Wednesday was the first German to be elected World Hockey Player, also flourished. The new aggressiveness helped the whole national team to success. Having arrived at the semi-final in the world cup; the intensive preparation has already been worthwhile.

Weißenborn got into shape for the tournament with his sporting support company. 'I am almost fully professional; I have sufficient time to train', he says.

Since last September, he has served in the German Federal Armed Forces; in October he wants to start a sports degree. He will have no problems reconciling this with his career. 'With more internationals, you know better when you should slow down and when you should go.'

2001 FIH Players of the Year Angie Skirving, Tibor Weissenborn, Luciana Aymar and Florian Kunz (left to right) (3)

Overall, Weißenborn has already gained a lot with routine. He has worked hard for it. Trainer Peters said: 'Of course he is a natural. But one doesn’t get very far as a natural alone. A lot of training is needed for a 'talent' to achieve the level of performance that he shows. Tibor is an industrious worker and an industrious trainer and very goal-oriented. His performance in tournaments has so far been as strong as a bear. 'Weißenborn sets standards in the right midfield, he is partly responsible for the offensive strength on his side. For the national coach it goes without question: 'Tibor brings all of the prerequisites with him that a world class player needs.'

Also among these is a strong will-power. Whoever wants to become someone, needs big goals. Weißenborn has already formulated such a goal for the world cup.

He would like to become the world champion, and he also already knows how. 'We will also take the semi-final. If we continue to play just as aggressively, we will win in any case.'

This article first appeared on www.BerlineOnline.de

Photographs courtesy Dieter Reinhardt (1) and Jeroen Van Bergen (2,3)

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