Mike Majerus, the iconic goalkeeper of Berchem for twenty seasons, the club he remained loyal to throughout his career, also led to the prosperity of the national team.
Mike Majerus, the legendary goalkeeper of his eternal club Berchem, looks back on the highlights of his career, facing the red lantern Mersch on Sunday.
Who is the strongest player you played with?
Mike Majerus: I don’t really like making a list just for the sake of forgetting someone. And then there are some. To be honest, I have known many of them and it depends on the time. For example, from 1995 to 2000 I played with many of my friends growing up at Berchem and we were lucky to have a good team. Among them were Claude Wehner and Claude Kaysen, good players I played with. They stopped earlier than me and new players like Martin Hummel (current Standard head coach) arrived who was a very good player. Then we had many players from abroad. We had a left-hander, Maciej Nowakowski from Poland, who was perhaps the best left-hander I played with. With him and Martin Hummel we won the double (cup and championship) in 2005, Berchem’s first and only ever. Later, when Jean-Marc Toupance arrived as coach, many Frenchmen arrived, such as Guillaume Geoffroy, who recently stopped. There was also Tarek Boucetta. They were very good players.
And the strongest you’ve encountered?
Because we played against France (Euro 2010 qualifiers), there were only good players in goal like Daniel Narcisse and Thierry Omeyer. Unfortunately, I missed the game with Nikola Karabatic. I had no chance to play against him. He didn’t play the first leg at La Coque, but he played the second leg in France, which I missed for family reasons. On the other hand, my teammates in this tournament had a chance to play against him. Together with Berchem, we also played Chambéry in the European Cup (2000), there were two Gille brothers. As a goalkeeper, I also remember the difficult game with the German team “Essen” in the European Cup. Iceland’s Valur Sigurdsson managed 10/10 I think and I remember (laughs).
His feats of arms
Mike Majerus, who played with his twin brother, center Tom, with his alma mater, won six championships and seven national cups, including a historic double in 2005. In the Challenge Trophy final, Norway raised the curtain on the match against Luxembourg, losing to Georgia by a small goal (27-28).
Worst player you’ve faced?
Actually, there were no bad guys. Of course, there were football players who were a bit tough on the field, who had this reputation, but were always forgotten after the matches. For example, there was Romain Labonte. He is a very good friend of mine, but he was doing his job defensively on the field. When I first started there was also a team in Diekirch and it was difficult to play against them because they played hard. There was Claude Haagen, now a minister (laughs).
A player you lost sight of and want to see again?
Rafal Kuptel spent one season with us in Berchem. He was a really good defender, maybe the best defender I played with. I’ve always liked good defenders to help me as a goalkeeper (laughs). It was at a very good level. He returned to Poland after one season for sports reasons. He wanted to rise to a higher level. I’ve followed his career a bit, but honestly not much. It is also difficult to find information about matches in Poland.
One of the best wins was against Tongeren in the semi-finals of the Benelux League
Your biggest win?
There are always victories in decisive matches, we have played less for the championship. Sometimes it was played in the last game. Or in the cup final. It was against Berchem in the semi-finals of the Benelux League (which Luxembourg clubs have since left), to name one. We won against the Belgian “Tongeren” team. Winning this match was still a surprise. Unfortunately, we played against the Dutch team “Volendam” in the final and lost (2010/2011 season).
Your biggest regret or disappointment?
I had the chance to play against France, Norway and even Portugal, but I didn’t have the chance to play against Germany or Spain. It was with the national team for disappointment. We played the final of the Challenge Trophy (2008). There were two chickens and we finished in first place, La Coque. The other group was won by Georgia and the final was held in Norway, I believe it was within the framework of the European Championship. We played just before the Norway match, so there was a lot of atmosphere in the room. We lost by one goal against Georgia (27-28, 20 January 2008) and it was really disappointing because we were hoping to win this trophy once.
I never wanted to change the club
A transfer that almost happened?
Sometimes there were clubs looking for contact, but I immediately said no. There was no reason to change clubs. We were still playing for the title and I felt comfortable in Berchem with my friends. I never wanted to change clubs.
Coach who influenced you the most?
Andre Gulbicki. He created several clubs here in Luxembourg and always won titles. He started his coaching career with us in Berchem, he branded me. There is Jean-Marc Toupance, who stands out for me especially with his knowledge of handball, his empathy for the players and his team management.
After twenty years of good and loyal service, Mike Majerus retired from the Berchem A team in 2012. The Luxembourger returned to the courts two years later, still with Berchem for three seasons, but this time with a group of friends. “having fun”. In 2017, at the age of 41, five years after his last appearance with A, he will come to lend a hand to his people in the match against Dudelange. Although he has definitely hung up the phone since then, the former goalkeeper continues to closely follow the results of his favorite club and helps organize events from time to time.
The day you decided to end your career?
At a certain point I told myself I would do twenty seasons before I stopped. The family side also changed: I had my first child in 2009 and my second child in 2011. I couldn’t train as much as I wanted anymore. I have observed this in my performances. I told myself I would stop because I don’t like to leave things unfinished. It was necessary to practice almost every day for the performances expected of me, the head coach and the team, and with the family it was no longer possible. I wanted to see my children, I didn’t want to go from work to training without seeing them.