Max Wöber and the Red Bulls from Salzburg – what a dream combination! Even though now is the time for Max to leave us and take on an exciting new challenge at Leeds United. We spoke to our captain about his time here and he was full of gratitude for your support over the past few years:
Hi Max! An extraordinary chapter in your career has come to an end and a new one is starting. How are you feeling after completing the transfer?
I am fairly excited, of course. It's going to be a huge challenge and the first few weeks of trying to settle in should be really fascinating. I just can't wait for it. On the other hand, it is with regret that I leave Salzburg, as I felt incredibly happy here in the past three-and-a-half years and made some close friends. Salzburg has become a second home for me. Giving that up is not easy.
The Premier League is the biggest thing in European football, and you will link up with plenty of familiar faces at Leeds. Were there any other reasons for making the move now?
When I extended my contract last summer, I made clear in the discussions that I wanted to consider any big opportunities that came my way. I was surprised by how quickly it came about, as I had such good discussions with the club and it looked like I would stay in Salzburg until the summer at least.
Then I heard during my holiday that Leeds United really wanted me. It was clear to me relatively soon that this was a chance I wanted to take. You won't get an opportunity like that to play in the Premier League too often. Of course, there is the fact that I also know Jesse [Marsch] really well, I got on really well with him during his time here in Salzburg and know how he likes to play football. I have two good friends there too in Ras [Rasmus Kristensen] and Brenden [Aaronson], which made the decision easier.
You and Rasmus go way back …
It's pretty incredible how our paths keep on crossing. We knew each other in Amsterdam and were neighbours in Salzburg. When I called him to ask how life is in Leeds, the first thing he said was that I could only come if I take the apartment next door to him. I don't know about that, but I definitely have to be somewhere close to Ras [laughs]. He only has good things to say about the city, the league and the team.
What will you miss the most about Salzburg?
I had a close relationship to so many people, and I will definitely miss this family atmosphere. We became a really close-knit team and experienced so many cool things on and off the pitch that gelled us. I always went to Taxham with a grin on my face and felt so happy in the city. It felt like home for me.
What moments will you remember for a long time?
The numerous highlights that I was able to celebrate on and off the pitch will be ones I remember for the rest of my life. If I think back to our first Champions League season, our very first match in the competition against Genk or our comeback at Liverpool, I still get goosebumps. I will miss our Champions League matches, of course. It was so cool to play at a sold-out Red Bull Arena against the best teams in Europe. I also remember our title parties fondly, and I only once had the chance to celebrate with the fans by the casino due to Covid - it was a real highlight.
Was the time here like what you imagined before your move?
When I moved to Salzburg in 2019, there was a lot of criticism. All the hubbub surrounding it wasn't pleasant. It was clearly always the right decision though, as I was coming after a difficult time in my career and wanted to find another home I could feel comfortable in so that I could perform at 100% again - and I absolutely managed that.
My time at FC Red Bull Salzburg shaped me both as a person and a player. I had to take on the role of a leader right from the start. I was really able to learn a lot. It ended up being just as I imagined - a really cool time that set me up for another important step. If I hadn't been presented with this kind of opportunity, I most likely would have spent the rest of my career in Salzburg.
Do you have a farewell message for the fans?
I would just like to say a huge thank you. You accepted me so generously, and I hope that you also saw that I always gave my all for this team and this club. Something incredibly special is being built here. You can see that the new role models for kids across Austria are being made in Salzburg. I am eternally grateful to Stephan [Reiter] and Christoph [Freund] for having the chance to experience it. What makes the club so special is that the people who work here can see the person behind every player. Thank you for the fantastic moments we enjoyed together. I grew really fond of Salzburg and it became a second home for me.
Thank you for the interview, Max! All the best, and we hope to see you again soon!