Interview Alexander Nübel: “I now have my rhythm back”

Heavily criticised upon his arrival at AS Monaco, German goalkeeper Alexander Nübel told Monaco Life that he is rediscovering his best form following a difficult spell at Bayern Munich.

Nübel felt the weight of expectation upon his arrival in the Principality last summer. Signing on a two-year loan deal from Bayern Munich, his adaptation to life in red and white perhaps wasn’t as smooth as expected. Whilst Nübel is the first to admit that he wasn’t playing at his highest level during the opening weeks of his spell in Monaco, he also believes that the unshakable comparisons to Bayern Munich teammate and German great Manuel Neuer played a part in shaping those negative perceptions.

“I think the comparisons [to Neuer] was part [of the criticism.] Luckily I couldn’t read the newspapers here,” he joked. “The criticism was very hard, too hard in the beginning. I wasn’t playing at my top level, but nor was I playing as badly as what was being reported. You have to handle it. For me, the most important thing is the criticism from my goalkeeping coach, and from the manager. These guys tell me the truth every day.”

In what was a period of adaptation, Nübel was grateful for the fellow German players within the squad, with whom he could converse and take his mind off what was happening on the pitch. “Kevin [Volland] and Ismail [Jakobs] were very important to me, especially Kevin, who arrived one year earlier than me. It’s much easier because I can speak German with them…it’s important because you can also talk about something else after training, after the games. We could just drink coffee and talk about other topics,” said Nübel.

However, despite his difficult start to life in France, he retained the support of then head coach Niko Kovac. “It always helps when you have the confidence of the coaches and the manager. With Niko it was helpful. At the start, I knew it wouldn’t be easy,” he said.

Under Kovac and then under Philippe Clement, with whom Nübel says he shares a “good connection”, Nübel has remained an undisputed starter in league games and European competitions. Radsolaw Majecki struggled to challenge Nübel’s supremacy and has headed out on loan to satellite club Cercle Brugge, whilst Thomas Didillon has made the opposite journey to take the place of no.2 at Monaco. “It’s always good to have a coach who sees your potential, and so you try to give everything back during the games,” said Nübel.

He quickly began repaying that faith. Last season, only OGC Nice’s Walter Benítez (7.1) prevented more goals in Ligue 1 than Nübel (4.8), whilst his confidence with the ball at his feet allowed Monaco to construct attacks from that back.

Having acclimatised somewhat over the summer, Nübel believes that his connection with his defenders has improved further, which shows in his pass completion rate (85% before matchday eight in Ligue 1). “Although I have to learn the language more, on the pitch it’s okay,” he began. “I can communicate with the guys in front of me, in English or in French, so that’s a lot better than before. I think you can see the connection between myself and the guys in front of me is a lot better than last year.”

As a goalkeeper, the connection and communication with the back-line is key, even more so in the modern game, where goalkeepers are no longer expected to be merely shot-stoppers, but also players capable of contributing to build-up play. For Nübel, “rhythm” is also key, and having lost it during his time at Bayern Munich, where he played just four times in the 2020/21 season, he now believes he is rediscovering it.

“I think I now have my rhythm back from my time at Schalke. That was also a factor in my difficult start, as it wasn’t easy without rhythm, without games at Bayern. Now it’s much better,” he said.

He continued, “Rhythm is very important for a goalkeeper. Normally you don’t change ‘keepers during a game, or even during a season. It’s something different compared to training. The rhythm and on-pitch actions are sometimes completely different. Seeing where the space is on the pitch is an important feeling to get back. At Bayern, it was difficult, although I did learn about mentality and passion.”

Having rediscovered his rhythm, he is now displaying some of his finest form in a Monaco jersey. Although the Bayern Munich loanee said he “doesn’t want to be spectacular,” his sprawling, finger-tip saves have certainly caught the eyes of Monaco fans in recent weeks.

Underpinning his recent visually-impressive performances are a set of impressive stats. No goalkeeper has made more saves than Nübel (38) in Ligue 1 this season, he has been awarded man of the match on three occasions, and he has kept three clean sheets in the last five games in all competitions. His performances also earned him AS Monaco’s player of the month award for September.

Rhythm, growing confidence, and improved communication with his back-line have certainly aided his recent fine form, but the impact of the club’s goalkeeper coach, Frederic de Boever, is far from negligible. “He’s a great goalkeeper coach. He helps me a lot and talks about my game: how we keep the ball, what positions I decide to take up, and when to be more offensive or defensive,” said Nübel.

His performances are converting into points; having faced more shots than any other goalkeeper in the league this season, Monaco’s start-of-season report could look very different if not for the German goalkeeper.

In moving from Bayern Munich, he has deviated from the path of fellow German and former teammate Neuer. Prior to that, he had followed in the footsteps of the German international goalkeeper, by playing for Schalke before moving to the Bavarian giants.

Nübel says that reports of a strained relationship between the pair whilst at Bayern Munich were false, adding, “I learnt a lot about his general game and his connection with the guys in front of him… He’s one of the best goalkeepers ever.”

He also credits Neuer for redefining the role of the goalkeeper: “He 100% changed [the way we see goalkeeping.] He is always trying to keep possession… When you see the top teams in Europe, they all have goalkeepers who play well with their feet… At Bayern, we, as goalkeepers, played a lot of possession games with the team and you saw barely any difference between him and the outfield players during those games.”

Despite his clear admiration for Neuer, his mere presence at Bayern Munich throws Nübel’s future into doubt. He is no longer willing to be a no.2, and given that Neuer’s contract runs until 2024, Nübel’s return to the Bundesliga champions is therefore in grave doubt.

“Game time is definitely the most important thing. If Manuel Neuer is still at Bayern, and he does have a contract until 2024, it makes no sense to go back to Bayern… I have a contract at Bayern, but I also think for them it makes no sense to have both me and Manuel,” admitted Nübel.

Asked where he sees himself next season, he replied, “There are good options to play at a good level. Everything is open. [Monaco] are also an option, of course.”

Should he continue to replicate his performances on a weekly basis, he won’t be short of options. At Monaco, he is appreciated, not least by Clement, who following the club’s 2-1 win against Lyon earlier in September, said, “For me, Alex has the quality to become one of the best goalkeepers in Europe, in the top 10.”

Whilst a player clearly in Neuer’s mould, he has deviated from his compatriot’s path and is currently writing his own story at Monaco. Only time will tell how lengthy their shared narrative will last.


Photo by AS Monaco





Stay sane, sustain

Love and marriage, horse and carriage, and now, superyacht and sustainability: bonded at the hip, paired for life, you can’t have one without the other.

Sustainability is this year’s MYS buzz word.

If you blink in the Darse Sud Exhibition Tent you might miss the sustainability ‘suite’, but “It’s a step in the right direction”, clamours this 14-stand strong army of exhibitors. And, what they might lack in numbers they make up for in enthusiasm: This corner is busting to save the earth and seas and has (some) of the wherewithal to make it happen.

Monaco Life pulled back the tent flaps and ventured inside to discover some of the innovative solutions on offer and learn what they mean for the future of yachting.

Hello Hydrogen

‘It’s time to shift’ is the rallying cry of EODev (Energy Observer Developments). This business, created in 2019, draws on the experience accumulated on board the 30.5 metre vessel, Energy Observer – the first hydrogen-powered, zero-emission vessel to be self-sufficient in energy.

EODev presents the RexH2, an onboard hydrogen fuel cell power generator. It has a footprint of one cubic meter and weighs 540 kilograms, which, for the non-scientific among us, is not very much.

Business Developer Fernando Szabados explains: “Basically, we produce hydrogen based on fuel cell technology supplied by Toyota and adapt it to our products. They have been using this technology for decades and they know how to use it and its nature. We integrated the product into the Energy Observer in 2019 and she’s been navigating now for two years with no failures.”

Right now, the biggest boat that can be powered this way is a 30m, “But”, says Szabados, “We can supply power for bigger boats, for ‘hotel load’, which means overnight power when the vessel is not moving.  Simply put, this can replace a diesel generator with no emissions, because we use hydrogen which can be produced in a totally renewable way; what we call ‘green hydrogen’. So even in the process of producing hydrogen there are no emissions. It can be used to go to protected areas with zero emission navigation.” The company is currently working on different sizes of power unit, bigger units for bigger and smaller units for smaller yachts. “The greatest challenge we have right now is for hydrogen storage, because it’s quite voluminous.”

Dr Elisabetta Zerazion, Scientific Coordinator of Water Revolution Foundation. Photo by Monaco Life

Drastic plastic

Chris Desai used to work on yachts, but during a yachtmaster course decided he wanted to work to save the sea rather than sail on it. So, he founded the charity UOCEAN 2050. “We believe we can mitigate the plastic and carbon footprint of the yachting industry,” explains Desai. “We think the yachting industry should drive the change because yachts are on the ocean and enjoy its nature. Our aim is to minimise the plastic footprints of yachts and make sure it doesn’t reach the sea.” The charity missions are, by 2030, to remove a billion kilos of marine plastic (they are currently 330,000 kilos in), and restore the abundance of the oceans by 2050.

The charity encourages plastic clean-ups throughout the world: rivers, canals, beaches, and engaging schools and all types of communities. Desai explains, “It’s about getting people who have never had access to conservation to get involved at a grass roots level to protect their communities.”  

“Unsustainable practices on superyachts have to stop,” he insists, “And there is no reason why they cannot adapt to a more sustainable model by reducing their plastic and off-setting their plastic, emissions etc.”

The charity offers and is conducting an audit service for yachts on the plastic and carbon usage and work with the yachts to find alternatives.

Track Back

The Water Revolution Foundation has some hefty industry supporters with some hefty projects. The Board of Directors includes superyacht industry heavyweights such as Henk de Vries III, Chairman of De Vries Scheepsbouw, who also have a 50% share of Feadship, yacht designer Philippe Briand, and Peter Lürssen of Lürssen Yachts. They are partnered with doctors in sustainable development, marine biology and science. The aim is to track, understand and change the impact of yachts on the environment.

Their work is a study in the collective term for initialisms, but no less relevant for it.

Explains Dr Elisabetta Zerazion: “YETI (Yacht Environmental Transparency Index) will be launched at METS 2022 in November this year. It offers owners the possibility to compare their superyacht by its environmental credentials and get a YETI score.” Other innovations include a Database of Sustainable Solutions (DOSS) to have sustainable solutions verified by a third party, and perhaps the most exciting is IMMA (Important Marine Mammal Areas). This allows yachts to identify, give clear passage and react responsibly to marine life locations and behaviour.

Lee Hirons of OceanLED, photo by Monaco Life

Lights please

OceanLED Marine are all about lights. Lee Hirons points out the Sustainable Solution Verified certificate from the Water Revolution Foundation. “We are one of the first to get this verification and we are very proud. One of the main features of our lights are the optics. They give the best beam and water penetration possible. A lot of our competitors do not use optics they just push a lot of power through. We don’t have to use so much power through the lights.” Because of the reduced heat, the lights can also be smaller and therefore created with less material, another sustainable factor.


Monaco Life emerged from the tent enlightened and inspired. Go peek.






Princely Family unveil Prince Rainer III commemorative logo

Prince Albert and Princess Charlene were joined by members of the Princely family in unveiling the official logo that will accompany all commemorative events linked to the centenary of the birth of Prince Rainier III, which takes place next year.

As Honorary President of the Commemorative Committee, Prince Albert on Wednesday was joined by his sister and Honorary President Princess Stéphanie, as well as Princess Charlene, Caroline Princess of Hanover, Mr. and Mrs. Louis Ducruet and Camille Gottlieb, as well as government ministers and other personalities, in unveiling the official logo.

Commemorations are due to take place in 2023, marking 100 years since the birth of Prince Rainier III.

They will begin on 31st May, the day of his birth, and will pay tribute to the late Prince, former Head of State, a “passionate man and father of a family”, said the Palace in a statement on Wednesday.

Photo by Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace

“The year 2023 will make it possible to celebrate his memory, to make it known to the younger generations his work, and to remember the man who devoted his life to the service of the Principality,” concluded the Palace.

The logo includes a profile portrait of Prince Rainier III, his insignia, and the red and white colours of the Principality of Monaco.



Photo above by Eric Mathon, Prince’s Palace





Principality to start trial of free buses for everyone

All buses within the Principality of Monaco will be free for a two-month period, beginning 3rd October, and depending on the success of the scheme, the change could become permanent. 

From 3rd October until 27th November, the government is testing the free bus scheme that, if successful, will be extended before being made permanent. The objective of the scheme is three-fold: decrease traffic within Monaco, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve the quality of life of Monaco’s residents, visitors and commuters.

The National Council have described the move as “a responsible, ecological and economical approach”. They added that it, “incites motorists residing in the Principality to leave their cars at home, and instead favour green forms of transport when moving around the Principality.”

More than 49,000 cars take to the roads of the Principality on a daily basis, which not only generates a high level of congestion within Monaco, but also has negative effects upon the quality of life in the Principality, and the environment. The government is hoping to reduce traffic by 20%, and a key arm in this battle is making public transport the main way of moving around the Principality.

During this test period, the government will carry out surveys by asking public transport users their opinions on the Principality’s network in order to further improve the service.

The National Council has announced that should the scheme have the desired effect of reducing traffic and increasing public transport usage, they will call on the government to extend the measure with the aim of making free public transport permanent.



Photo source: Government Communication Department




MonacoTech enter partnership with Hinduja group

MonacoTech has signed a collaboration agreement with the international group Hinduja promoting exchanges and networking between startups and companies.

The agreement was signed by Lionel Galfré, Director of MonacoTech, and Monegasque company HGM – member of Hinduja, represented by Ajay Hinduja and Edouard Mousny.

The purpose is for the two structures to benefit from the strengths of the other, namely the very vast, international, multi-sectoral experience of the Hinduja group and the innovation and dynamism of the projects supported by Monaco Tech.

“MonacoTech start-ups have the ability to free themselves from routines and burdens by proposing either a technological innovation capable of reinventing the processes and business models of a market, or to reverse the market approach of a sector by providing concept innovation,” said the government-run business incubator in a press statement. “They have the creativity, the dynamism and the breath of creation linked to their youth. These start-ups, on the other hand, very often suffer from a lack of funding, experience and knowledge of sectors, networks, support and relays internationally.

“Meanwhile, large companies, such as the Hinduja group, have expertise, know-how, financial resources and a particularly international network of great value and potentially very powerful.”




Photo source: MonacoTech