VIENNA (AP) — The Austrian football federation has hired skiing great Hermann Maier as a mental coach for the national team ahead of its European Championship qualifying campaign.
The 41-year-old Maier retired five years ago, holding two Olympic and three world titles and having won 54 World Cup races from 1996-2009.
"I want to pass on experiences from my own career about setting and reaching goals as an athlete," Maier said Monday.
Maier will speak with the players about mental strengths, focusing on success, the will to win and coping with disappointments. He held a similar coaching session with the German national team during a training camp in Italy in May, less than two months before Germany won the World Cup in Brazil.
"I am not a sports psychologist and I won't be on the training field with them," Maier said. "But I believe you can always learn from experienced athletes, even from a different sport."
Apart from his many triumphs, Maier will always be remembered for famously winning Olympic super-G gold at the 1998 Nagano Games just three days after a horrifying crash in the downhill, and for successfully continuing his career after almost losing his right leg in a motorbike accident in 2001.
"Hermann has had incredible success but also had to come back several times from serious injuries," Austria coach Marcel Koller said. "He knows how hard it is to get to the top. He is the personified consistency."
Austria's first Euro 2016 qualifier is against Sweden in Vienna next week. Austria has failed to reach a major tournament since the 1998 World Cup, but took part in Euro 2008 as a co-host with Switzerland.