Sunderland have strongly refuted the claims, but Hoffmann spoke in an interview with Florian Plettenberg and started by explaining how well his career at Sunderland started, adding that he is grateful for his time on Wearside due to how much he learned about himself:
The start was fantastic. It all happened very quickly on deadline day. I flew there with my boys and then we made it final at the last second. Then it started right away, a week later. The first game was in front of 35,000 spectators and we won straight away. A great debut. I scored forty points, played twenty three games, nine of them to zero. It started really well and the plan seemed to work.
Then some things went a bit differently, but as we all know, that’s part of football. It’s not always uphill. After my corona illness, I went through a difficult time. I learned a lot about myself. It’s not always uphill, but that it can also quickly go in the other direction.
Nevertheless, I am very grateful for this time and just happy that I took the step because I learned a lot about myself and English football.
Hoffmann then goes into more detail about how he allegedly had to play on through Covid, and how he had to take the initiative to return to Bayern Munich for medical care. However, he also praised Anthony Patterson and the team for achieving promotion, and was proud of the part he played:
In England, it was a completely different corona situation than in Germany, where corona didn’t really play a role any more. With the English, everything was over. There was no more testing, no measures, nothing. And then at the turn of the year, even when my family was with me, I caught it from a teammate. I was then in quarantine for seven days. I did private tests, and one was still positive on the seventh day. I trained on the eighth day and played on the ninth, then I realised that something was wrong.
At the same time, there were critical reports about Phonzie [Alphonso Davies], with whom I had contact, and about Rune Jarstein at Hertha BSC, who really had problems. Then you listen more to your own body and your own mind. I still played three games after my corona illness, but it got worse from game to game, including how I felt afterwards.
I had a very low energy level, I had no strength at all to get up after games and I didn’t get up from the couch. It was very strange, I had shortness of breath and a twinge in my chest. Then I spoke to the officials myself and asked to be checked. I took the initiative with my family and with the people around me and we said: I’m going to Munich.
I was welcomed there with open arms, the doctors checked everything out for me and took very good care of me. Then, fortunately, everything was fine again. I was in Munich for four days, then I went back to Sunderland and exactly during that time, when I wasn’t there, the new coach was hired and he put an English goalkeeper in goal, who did well.
We got into the playoffs and there was no chance for me to catch up again and get in goal. But I would have loved to do that, because I had the goal of getting promoted with the club in goal. The fact that it still worked out is a huge success for the city, for the club, which has made its way out after four years in this difficult league with really nasty and difficult teams to play against.
I played my part in it, played 23 games and contributed more than half of the points. That’s why I’m proud of that time. Personally, I have matured a lot and can take many things with me that will always be helpful for me and my future career.
The goalkeeper spoke to Canadian international Davies, who had also been suffering with Covid, and revealed that he felt ‘let down’ by the Sunderland medical department:
We wrote. In fact, he didn’t even realize it. I asked him how he was. I was in quarantine at the time and we’ve always had a small group with Chris Richards, Jamal Musiala, Phonzie and Joshua Zirkzee. We were always good with each other and that’s why we were in contact all the time.
Yes, I suffered at the time because I didn’t know what was going to happen. I just procrastinated, because I haven’t recovered properly. And when you’re alone in a foreign country and in a foreign city and in a different medical environment than what I was used to from Bayern, then you worry even more.
That’s how it is definitely been to me. I had the feeling that I was let down a bit by the medical department and therefore had to take care of it myself more than the club [Sunderland] did.
Although he says he had to take action by himself, he believes he did not get the mix quite right, as evidenced by the fact he did not regain his place in the team:
As it got worse game by game I was concerned to be honest. What’s going on here? Something my body is trying to tell me but I don’t know what because I didn’t have a fever or any bad symptoms.
I just wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t have any strength. I was already asking myself: ‘OK, what do I do now? What’s best for the club? What’s best for me? Can I get a good mix?’ There unfortunately I didn’t succeed because I didn’t get a good mix, because I couldn’t go on in goal afterwards.
Finally, Hoffmann talks about how his future is likely to be in the German second division, with the 23-year-old recently linked with newly-promoted Eintracht Braunschweig:
We are in talks with the club because the club wants what’s best for me. I grew up there. And I’m very grateful to FC Bayern. I’ve never received anything for free and I’ve always fought. The best for me is now, in the second division in Germany, to dare to take the next step and play. Because my long-term goal is the Bundesliga at some point. I always wanted to achieve that, that’s still my goal. That hasn’t changed now, for that We’re looking for the perfect next step so that we can continue on our own path. I can count on the support of Bayern.
Yes, we are talking to clubs from the second division. That is completely clear because for me it is about the next step. But it has to be right from both sides.