The twins – Lars and Sven
This section isn’t going to take yet another look at the question of how often Lars and Sven Bender see one another and speak on the phone. Instead, it aims to give you an insight into Lars and Sven’s shared experience of becoming professional footballers and the things that make being a twin special even today.
Before joining Borussia Dortmund and Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Lars and Sven always moved around together in the world of football. From joining their local team TSV Brannenburg to moving to SpVgg Unterhaching and later to TSV 1860 Munich – the Benders only came as a pair. The twins particularly like reminiscing about their time in the B-youth. “We had a great team with lots of talented players, and our trainer Wolfgang Schellenberg was fantastic. When I look back, I can see that he gave us that certain tactical edge, which we still benefit from today,” comments Lars. Even back then, the twins were clearly home birds: instead of moving into the football academy in Munich, they both remained in Brannenberg and spent several hours a day on trains commuting to and from training in Munich. This naturally involved greater cost and effort, but also offered the decisive benefit that the Benders could remain in their home environment, to which both of the players still have great affinity even today.
After winning the German B-Youth Championship and playing in the U17 European Championship in Luxembourg, the brothers both made the leap to the world of professional sport by signing their first professional contracts. “This was naturally a very special moment for both of us. We came to see the trainer in the cabin and were greeted with the words “So, you’re the twins. That says a lot somehow,” the two remember. The first two years at 1860 were no less turbulent. After their first season under Walter Schachner, they finally established themselves under Marco Kurz. The next step was only logical: a transfer to the Bundesliga.
“It certainly felt a little strange to discover that Sven was going to move to Dortmund while I’d be fastening my football boots several hundred kilometres further south at 1860. However, we were both well aware that this was a huge opportunity for Sven,” comments Lars, emphasizing “being split up has also done us good from a football perspective. We used to have very similar playing styles. Today, the differences are far clearer.”
This kind of change naturally also involves changes on a private level too. Instead of sharing an apartment in Brannenburg, the pair both started living on their own. Even after Lars transferred to Bayer 04 Leverkusen, this living situation remained the same. “We were naturally often asked if we would move back in together somewhere in the middle as the two cities are only 100 kilometres apart. However, it wasn’t something that we even considered doing. Firstly, it would have been crazy from a transport perspective and secondly, living on your own makes you more independent,” comments Sven Bender, while Lars adds: “Exactly! You can’t rely on the other person to do the washing up”.
Although there’s doubtlessly something special about the story of twins in the Bundesliga, it’s also something that can be rather exhausting.
“When we’re asked for the umpteenth time how often we call one another, whether we cope without seeing each other for a while or if we have the same favorite meals, it can get a bit annoying. We’re often only seen as a pair”, summarizes Lars.
Even after countless appearances in the Bundesliga, the Champions League and the Europa League as well as on the national team, commentators would still suddenly claim Lars played midfield for Dortmund – a curious situation which was resolved when Sven transferred to Bayer Leverkusen in summer 2017. The only question asked these days is “Which one is which in the team?”