Yann Sommer: Goalkeeper, singer, guitarist and chef extraordinaire
There are few lonelier places than being the team’s goalkeeper, especially when you’re culpable for a mistake.
Having a method of escapism is crucial — or in the case of Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer having a number of methods of escape.
The 29-year-old is an accomplished chef and a fine photographer and composes his own songs in his spare time.
Rarely without his guitar, which has traveled with him to Russia, Sommer is as relaxed as you could expect with the pressure of the World Cup on his shoulders.
“I need some different activities away from football to help me switch off,” Sommer told CNN Sport of his hobbies.
“Getting some distance from football is hard. There’s so much pressure and when you go home you need to have something you can lose yourself in.”
For the past 18 months Sommer, who plays his club football with Borussia Moenchengladbach in Germany, has been taking singing lessons, and his repertoire consists of everything from Bruce Springsteen to reggae.
But one of Sommer’s greatest loves is cooking, a love instilled in him by his mother and father at a young age.
Growing up in the family home in Switzerland, Sommer recalls learning from his parents in the kitchen, his father’s famous paella dish or the ratatouille that he made on holiday in France.
Food was an integral part of his upbringing. It was little surprise, then, that he began to experiment after leaving his childhood home at 17 while chasing his dream to become a professional footballer.
“I come from a family of gourmets,” he explained while sharing tales of his family holidays in Southern France.
“Food is very important to all of us. I grew up surrounded by a great quality of food which was well prepared and healthy. We cooked together when I was younger and I learned from my parents. Then I started to cook when I moved out when I was 17.
“It’s reflecting my personality on a plate. For our family, it’s a big tradition to eat together. To sit together, share the food, to speak about food, speak about meat, fish, which we had in our house in Provence in the south of France.”
Sommer’s love of food is showcased on his popular food blog, Sommerkocht, which has gained fans from across the world.
He posts his latest recipes, photos of dishes and shares culinary tips.
“As a sportsman it’s very important that I eat well because whatever I give my body, my body gives back to me,” he said.
“When I was younger I didn’t think much about nutrition but now it’s so important. I love eating, I love sharing food with people, talking at dinner, it’s something I really enjoy and so food has become very important in terms of nutrition and socializing.
“I love vegetables, fresh seasonal food. It depends which season we have. At the moment I like to cook with asparagus, it’s perfect to combine with fish or a good steak.
“Green asparagus is one of my favorites. It`s easy to prepare and full of necessary minerals. I grill the asparagus and pair it with a vinaigrette, that consists of olive oil, lemon juice, sun dried tomatoes and pine nuts. It tastes like summer.”
Food, Sommer says, has been central to Switzerland’s ethos while away at the World Cup, both in terms of nutrition and spirit within the squad.
“We have a big table and the whole squad sits on the same table to eat,” he says.
“It’s important because we are together for four or five weeks which is a long time. I have a room for myself so when we go for food it’s important that we sit and talk together. We are like a family. It’s important if we want to be successful.”
Switzerland held five-time world champion Brazil to a 1-1 draw in its opening group game last week, a result that few had predicted.
It means that Friday’s game against Serbia, which tops Group E, takes on huge significance.
A win would leave Switzerland close to qualifying for the last 16 with a final group game against Costa Rica.
“I think our chances are as good as all the other teams in our group,” Sommer said.
“We are really proud to play for Switzerland and we want to make sure that when we come home the country is proud of us.”