Not so long ago, Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho was heavily linked to Premier League giant Manchester United in a transfer deal that eventually crumbled due to reasons aplenty.
While the main reason was the club's board not allotting the reported asking price of 117 million euros, fans made up an entirely different reason as to why Sancho stayed.
Last month, reports of Dortmund hiring a new fitness coach took the internet by a storm. The position was reportedly filled in by Alica Schmidt, a 21-year-old track and field German athlete. Schmidt turned heads on social media for all the right reasons.
Schmidt had shared stories on Instagram where she was enjoying her time training with the likes of Mats Hummels, Thomas Meunier, and Manuel Akanji. Hummels was also challenged to a 400m race by Schmidt, who won it with ease.
Meanwhile, fans joked that Schmidt is the reason why Sancho decided to stay at Signal Iduna Park this summer. Although it was pure banter from the fans, the reactions were hilarious.
Schmidt's Instagram popularity rose in recent weeks with her followers count crossing the million mark, thanks to the 'Sancho' jokes and the fact that she was labeled the "World's Hottest Athlete" by American online sports magazine 'Busted Coverage', two years ago.
However, in a conversation with the Free Press Journal's Husain Rizvi, Schmidt has bared it all.
1. What made you take this challenge of becoming a fitness coach in a football team ?
There is a story behind the story. Even if I am disappointing many now, I must make it clear: I am not the new fitness coach of Borussia Dortmund. I had been invited by the jersey sponsor 1&1 to record a fitness format with the players for the club's own television channel. I posted a few sequences of it on my Instagram channel. BVB ambassador Patrick Owomoyela posted a selfie with the two of us and announced that I was the new BVB fitness trainer. Patrick is simply a clever spin doctor.
2. You were called 'World's Sexiest Athlete', but I know for you sports comes first. Do you think it's misogynist or do you like the tag?
I didn’t ask for the tag and as for everything there are two sides of the coin. The 'title' helped me to grow my Instagram channel which allows me to focus on my sports without having a side job. And sometimes it is lost in the process that I have greatly improved my athletic performance and that I am studying on the side. But I certainly don't want to complain.
3. You defeated Mats Hummels in a race. Do you think you can challenge Jadon Sancho in another race? Or the current fastest footballers - Kylian Mbappe/Alphonso Davies?
For once I was very grateful that Mats was immediately ready to embark on this adventure. At the moment I have no ambitions to compete against other Bundesliga players, but maybe that will change. In any case, Mats has announced that he would like a rematch and I am of course ready for that at any time. Mats is a very ambitious guy, who knows: maybe he will even win next time. The first time he ran 400m was against me.
4. How did you react to all the social media buzz you created when you joined Dortmund as their fitness coach?
Once again, I am not a fitness coach of Dortmund. The Dortmunders already have an extremely competent coaching staff. When the hype started, I was luckily on holiday and far away from everything but waking up and suddenly having 1 million followers is a great experience for which I am very grateful to everyone who follows me.
5. You aspire to win medals at the Tokyo Olympics next year - what training regimes have you undertaken?
My goal is to take part in the Olympic Games. And actually, I have always trained for Paris 2024. If I qualify for Tokyo in the 4x400m relay, that is a plus I never expected. And to the question with the training. At the moment I train eight sessions with my training group of the SCC Berlin.
6. What fitness tips/diets would you recommend to the young aspiring athletes?
I always recommend doing what you are passionate about. I try to eat clean, but also treat myself to a little something now and then. My recommendation is to refrain from extremes.
7. What would you say is the major difference between athletics and football?
Football is a team sport and they have a ball around which everything is built upon.
8. Do you think that as an athlete you can be a part of a professional football team in the future?
9. Who is your inspiration in athletics/football?
I have no ambitions whatsoever in football. As an athlete, it is my dream to participate in the Olympic Games.
10. Can I get your comment on how women are shaping the future of athletics, football or any sport?
There are many great female athletes and many wonderful male athletes. For me, the Olympic Games are also a great goal because exceptional athletes - both men and women - from all over the world come together and compete together.
11. Are there any specific records you want to break as a track athlete?
I have no specific record. I would like to improve constantly. At the moment my PB (Personal Best) is 52.21. Now my goal is to run consistently this time and then become even faster.
12. Who is your favourite German footballer? And who is your favourite footballer of all time?
Before the shoot in Dortmund, I would have said that I had no favourite. Mats Hummels, Manuel Akanji, Thomas Meunier and Felix Passlack were all super likeable during our little fitness shoot. Sure, now that I know them, I naturally keep my fingers crossed when they play.
13. If you were to play football, which position do you prefer?
14. Is there any way for fast paced footballers to recover their pace after injury?
I am neither a doctor nor a physiotherapist, so I can only say that the best thing is to stick to what the specialists say.
15. While footballers are also top level athletes, is there a difference between how they approach their sport as compared to other athletes?
I see no difference in attitude and professionalism. But of course, they have more specialists around them and more media attention, which also means more commitments.