Nikolaus Knebel

by Georg Diez

We played football together. In Munich. In the same team, however, not in the same half of the pitch. I was a classic striker, waiting for passes from my mates at the front, Niko was always at the back, a hard-hitting Vorstopper. Both positions do not exist in modern soccer any longer. The new order is that you make yourself available, create a situation where you outnumber your opponent, act fast, think fast, strike from behind. It works for Bayern Munich; it is the new way of doing things, fluid, indirect, a process rather than mere pressure. Everybody is a striker, and a defender. Be flexible. Move.
Now: Some people live it beyond the pitch. They are like a pin on a map. These little red signs that have come to symbolize where you are. Who you are. Places have become people. You track them, you watch them move, you gather information about their success, their happiness, their state of mind from the way the pin moves across the globe. Niko for example. Berlin, Singapore, Delft, he worked for Rem Koolhaas in Rotterdam and for Toyo Ito in Tokyo, for the Bauhaus Dessau Foundation and for German Technical Cooperation in Ethiopia. Today he lives in Oman, works as an architecture professor. When we meet, it is mostly by chance – and always in Munich. Does that make Niko glocal? Or is this just another word unable to describe the state that we are in: Wandering spirits, hängende Spitzen, always in motion, tiki taka?

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