Klaus Gjasula, 30, wears head protection while playing football. He feels safer with it – and believes that he sees more yellow cards because of the helmet.
When Klaus Gjasula played for the Stuttgart Kickers in the third division in 2016, he once said: “I can rule out the Bundesliga for myself, I’m not good enough for that.” This Friday, the 30-year-old SC Paderborn midfielder is playing his 21st Bundesliga game at Bayern Munich. He has been yellow-blocked twice this season. With ten yellow cards in the first 18 season games, he set a Bundesliga record. He suspects that his striking appearance is not entirely innocent: Gjasula has been wearing head protection in every game for six years.
SZ: Mr. Gjasula, why are you wearing this head protection?
Klaus Gjasula: I played for Kickers Offenbach in the regional league in 2013 when a two-meter striker broke my right zygomatic arch with his skull against Hessen Kassel in a head-to-head duel. The zygomatic arch lies between the jaw and temple, a little further out than the zygomatic bone. That’s why I needed a helmet that was specially made for me. The following season I took off my helmet, but in the first game my goalkeeper hit me in the same place with my fists. I’ve been wearing the helmet ever since. For my head and for my feeling.
What is the helmet made of?
Made of carbon. He was not admitted at first because he was too hard and too dangerous for the opponents. But then foam was pulled over it, and now it’s even a little more comfortable for opponents in a collision than if it hit head on head.
How many helmets do you have?
What if it breaks?
I haven’t thought about that yet. But I forgot him at home once, during a test game. It was a strange feeling. Then something is missing and you automatically play more carefully.
Do you wear it in training?
No, most of it takes place on the ground and not in the air. It is also easier not to worry as much.
Doesn’t the helmet hinder you?
To the right, my viewing angle is a bit limited, because a piece of the helmet protects the zygomatic arch there. This may make me a bit slower in my response at times, but I’ve got used to it. What is definitely more difficult: to head with the helmet placed.
But then again congratulations on your header on Schalke the other day for a 1-1 draw.
The helmet helps me with my head, of course, in that I can go into a header duel more freely.
To celebrate the goal, take off your helmet – for the photographers?
No, I take off my helmet and salute our fans, it’s a little ritual.
Do you have a name for the helmet?
No. It’s not a pet.
Do opponents make sayings?
Not anymore. In the lower leagues, you were more likely to be in the hair with opponents, and then one or the other saying came. You have to expect something like that.
And the teammates?
Sometimes they call me Gladiator or Spartacus. I take that as a compliment.
A year ago there was the headline: “Gjasula pleads for helmet wear in football.” Did you really say that?
No. There are players who seem to be more prone to head injuries, like Christoph Kramer from Mönchengladbach or the Bender twins in Leverkusen. I just think that it might make sense for certain players to wear a helmet for health reasons so that there are no after-effects after their career. I was never compelled to wear a helmet.
With ten yellow cards you are currently leading the card statistics in the Bundesliga. Ten yellow cards in the first 18 games are even a record.
The yellow card unfortunately haunts me a bit, strangely, since I’ve been wearing the helmet. I have the feeling that a foul by me looks more intense through the helmet …
… more martial?
Can be. If you regularly see yellow cards, I think you also have a call away, for me according to the motto: that’s the one with the helmet!
Can you be more careless with a helmet because you are protected?
Good question. But I can not answer. I’ve always been the energetic guy, it didn’t feel any different for me without a helmet.
You only need six yellow cards to set the current Bundesliga season record.
For real? And I was happy that I didn’t get any in the last two games.
Didn’t you know that Tomasz Hajto and Stefan Effenberg became record holders with 16 yellow cards each in one season in the 1990s?
No, I actually didn’t know that. But I am also not concerned with the entry in the history books. Everyone has their own style of playing, and I’m now 30 and not 18 anymore.
You are certainly proud to be playing in the Bundesliga after you basically categorically excluded it four years ago.
I’m really proud of it. I come from the bottom, so to speak. At that time I was 26 and played third division. I never thought the Bundesliga was possible. This story should show everyone that it’s never worth giving up.