When Bayern Munich take on Borussia Dortmund in this weekend’s all German Champions League final an interested onlooker will be young Englishman Dale Jennings.
Jennings who joined Bayern from League One Tranmere just under two years ago will not be in the Wembley crowd on Saturday night but it is likely that he will soon be back in England on a permanent basis.
Because while his club-mates compete in UEFA’s showpiece final Jennings will be packing his bags and belongings up at his Munich flat.
After failing to settle and make inroads towards the Bayern first XI the Liverpudlian has decided to call time on his adventure in Bavaria.
“When the opportunity came up to join Bayern Munich there was no way I could turn it down but I’ve just found it difficult adjusting to life in another country,” Jennings told The Daily Mail.
“The experience has been amazing and lots of it I wouldn’t change for the world but I think I need to go back to England to get my football going again.”
The skilful winger’s two years has been blighted by injuries and his latest a bout of patella tendinitis has kept him sidelined since a winter training camp in Turkey.
Although now fit again the 20-year-old former League One Apprentice of the Year is unlikely to feature in the Bayern second string for their final match of the season against Wurzburger Kickers tomorrow.
And Jennings feels doubly frustrated at not being able to force his way closer to the first-team.
“I’ve trained with the first team about three times and I played in a friendly for the first-team in November. Although, I’m a winger, I was played up front and scored a goal and hit the post. It was quite an experienced team, Daniel van Buyten, Luis Gustavo and David Alaba were all in the side but I felt comfortable. I felt playing alongside that level of player brought the best out of me. It gave me belief that I can play at the top level.”
“The injuries obviously haven’t helped but sometimes I don’t think they have been bad enough to stop me playing. In England, players will often play through a knock but here it is a different mentality. The good side is the club always makes sure you have the best treatment. I was sent to the top clinic in Austria for my knee and I feel great now but it can be frustrating at other times when you just want to get out and play.”
“My biggest regret has been not being able to learn the language properly,” continued Jennings.
“I think some of the staff still look at me a bit differently because I have been here two years and not learned it. I took German lessons but I was never the best at school and found it difficult.”
“It got to the point last year where I was spending that much time on it that my old coach, Andries Jonker, believed it was affecting the focus on my football. I can understand the basics and what the coach wants me to do but I’m not confident with it.”
This season Jennings has been under the tutelage of Mehmet Scholl and the great Gerd Muller and he believes their influence and that of the likes of France international Franck Ribery and the Dutch winger Arjen Robben have provided him with the blueprint to a successful career.
“I was watching training yesterday and the coach had Robben and Ribery doing ‘doggies’ which is short sprints up a hill going back and forth to different posts. It’s obvious the work-rate of the wingers is key to how Jupp Heynckes wants to play.”
“I watch Ribery a lot. He does the simple things so well and he is one of the hardest workers in the team. He’s world class and so is Robben. They have their own individual training plans but Robben will often go and do a bit more after training on his skills, his shooting and crossing. I’ve spoken to them a few times. Robben speaks good English but overall they tend to keep to themselves.”
“They are just very well drilled. Schweinsteiger in this past season has been unbelievable. In training you can’t get the ball off him and he sees things that others just don’t. The level is incredible. The full-backs Philipp Lahm and Alaba are top class and Mario Gomez; just watching him finish, I think he is one of the best strikers in Europe.”
“Overall though the German leagues are of a better standard than in England. It’s not just athleticism and organisation, it’s the skill level, general attitude and dedication to the game. The time here has taught me a lot about how to approach the game.”
The video below recalls Jennings arrival to Munich.