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EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Mike Horn speaks to Front Row Group
about motivating the German Football team for the 2014 FIFA World Cup

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Front Row Group caught up with legendary South African-born Swiss explorer Mike Horn to talk about his involvement in the German national football team’s preparation for the World Cup.

In June 2014, Mike Horn welcomed the German team aboard his boat Pangaea for a day of sailing and motivation in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. He re-joined the team in Brazil to assist with working towards a World Cup win.

FRG: Congratulations on your success with the German Football team. How did you feel when they won the World Cup?


Nobody plays to compete; everybody plays to win. To be able to add my stroke of colour to the bigger picture will always be satisfying. The German team came to Brazil to win, and success is a culture we grow within ourselves. Victory has a very sweet taste and that becomes addictive.

FRG: Did you feel all the hard work had come together when they won against hosts Brazil so spectacularly and with such discipline in the Semi-Final?

The German team left no stone unturned, their preparation was done very clinically, and a lot of thought was put into

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building the team to last throughout the tournament. It is important not to peak too soon and to last the distance. There is a big difference between playing not to lose and playing to win, which was the difference in the approach of the 2 teams in the semi-finals.

Argentina’s dream was to play in the final whereas the German team’s dream was to win the final. No match has been won on the field; all matches are won before you go on the field.

FRG: How did you help the team prepare to face the tournament?

To be able to activate the intellectual emotions of the players is very important, to make a commitment to each other builds the team bond, willing to give better than your best when you are in a team environment motivates each other. Wanting to be the person that makes the difference creates a solid base to build from.

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FRG: How do the challenges you face in your expeditions relate to the challenges faced when competing for the World Cup?

The only difference is that I do not lose a match I lose a life! Second place is NOT an option, as I told them winning is not everything it’s the only thing. If I can get them to commit to themselves, as I do during my expeditions, losing is no longer an option.

In sport we play football or we play tennis and there will always be another match. In expeditions we do not play

climbing or play polar exploration, I have no option but to succeed, the approach to life changes. Why do we always have to have a back door? I never started anything in life thinking I will fail.

FRG: What methods do you use to reunite the players as a team?

The practical methods were done on the sailing boat, taking the players out of their comfort zones and giving them responsibilities that made them depend on their teammates. Communication, interaction with each other and the fact that they cannot hide or do half a job otherwise they will be exposed is very important. Honesty and knowing what you can expect from your fellow teammates becomes vital. If you know what to expect from others you can never be disappointed.


I did a conference-style story telling session, speaking about keywords I think are important in the team environment; I talked about past lived experiences, not telling them how to succeed but more how I have managed to reach my goal. I opened their minds to start thinking about their approach and to find the answer to the question they have inside themselves. The question and answer session after the talk was very important, that is when I gave a direction to their thoughts. Fear is often a killer of dreams!

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FRG: You have a number of inspirational stories of your own demonstrating your amazing willpower, endurance and determination. Which did you tell to inspire the team?

The theme I gave myself was “if your dreams don’t scare you, they are not big enough”. I spoke in general about most of my expeditions, from swimming the full length of the Amazon to climbing 8000m peaks without oxygen, but I focused on my North Pole winter expedition, more people have been to the moon than have reached the North Pole during winter. What would it take to make you think you can do it?

FRG: Where do you get your inspiration from?

One life has 30,000 days. We can’t afford to waste one of those days. When you really live life to the fullest and do what you love, inspiration comes from the inner self, it’s natural. When the will to win becomes bigger than the fear to lose you will always be inspired to do better.

FRG: What’s next in store for you?

I have a Pole2Pole expedition planned that will take me around the world crossing the South and North Pole solo. In-between the poles I will use my 105 foot ice sailing vessel to cover the distance between both poles. I will shed light on human performance and the importance of the Polar Regions for the existence of humans on our planet. At this stage I’m looking to find sponsors and funding for this expedition.

18h July 2014 courtesy of Markus Gilliar, GES Sportfoto