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TRAINING CAMP DIARY DAY 6: ALL ABOUT MENTALITY

Training camp in Herzlake – FC St Pauli's pre-season preparations are underway! What goes on during the energy-sapping workouts and friendlies? And what happens in between? Each day, Colin from the club's media team brings you an informative and sometimes irreverent look at what it's like to be in training camp.

I hoped you packed your sunscreen this morning. Timo Schultz certainly did, spending the warm-up applying protection to his face, arms and legs while the players were hard at work on the training ground. I don't wish to bore you with small talk about the weather here at training camp, but today's sunshine and pleasant 24 degrees did everyone good after the overcast and rainy conditions of recent days.

The strategy game lined up for the Boys in Brown during that warm-up had school break time written all over it. Rock, paper, scissors! Remember that? Under the supervision of performance coach Christoph Hainc Scheller, two players run up to each other at various intervals, stop and then throw one of the handsigns for rock, paper or scissors. "The loser has to run back and do five press-ups," he says, explaining the rules.

I watch the various matchups intently – it's fascinating how one split second, one quick throw of the hand, can make the difference between joy and sorrow. Jakov Medić against Simon Makienok was an interesting contest. It ended rock against rock three times in a row. Not until the fourth attempt did Simon take the point, his paper beating Jakov's rock, resulting in five press–ups for our new Croatian recruit.

"I love sport and games and I'm really active away from football," the former Wehen Wiesbaden man explains. In Germany, there used to be a social networking platform for students called StudiVZ. I was a member of the version for school students, and you could choose between preset categories when creating your profile. Jakov would almost certainly have selected "sporting ace", and not just because he's a professional footballer. "I love playing tennis, badminton, table tennis and darts most of all," he explains. His eyes are sure to have lit up when he saw all the activities available in the sports hall next to hotel windmill. Just like mine did as a kid when I stood in front of the tree on Christmas Eve.

Jakov Medić focuses on the target.

Jakov Medić focuses on the target.

Jakov's enthusiasm for sport is no accident. His uncle is the former Croatian international Dario Šimić, who played 100 times for his country and won the Champions League twice with AC Milan in 2003 and 2006. What is it like to grow up with a legend of the national game? "It's great. He was like a father figure to me. Football takes priority over everything else, it's my life and always has been. We always played together when I was a kid and I got to know his Milan teammates, such as Alessandro Nesta and even Ronaldinho. Who knows, maybe my career will be just as successful as my uncle's," he says laughing. I actually did get to see Ronaldinho in the Champions League once. From the stands, of course. Not up close like Jakov, but there you go.

Back to our new signing. You'd never know he was a hard as nails defender going by the skill and ease with which he juggles the ball with his foot, head and shoulder at our mini-photoshoot. Standing six feet three inches, and with his long legs and rugged physique, Jakov has all the necessary physical attributes, but he also knows that in football it comes down to so much more – mental strength, for example. "Mentality is incredibly important," he explains. "My uncle always told me that talent is only five per cent of it, the rest is work, work, work. Those words have stayed with me."

"Football is played with the head," said former Italy international Andrea Pirlo, summing it up perfectly. No wonder, as Pirlo was another of Jakov's uncle's teammates. And on the subject of mentality, Jakov was soon laughing again about his defeat to Simon Makienok at rock, paper, scissors.

Photos: FC St. Pauli

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