Sargis Adamyan was Hoffenheim’s match-winner last time in Munich, after scoring a Bundesliga brace to carry his side to a 2-1 win over FC Bayern in late August. Now, Hoffenheim get set to face the record German and DFB-Pokal champions in the competition’s round of 16 (05.02.20, 20:45 CET). In an interview with DFB.de, the 26-year-old attacker speaks with Oliver Jensen about the best match of his career so far, and his long journey to the Bundesliga.
DFB.de: Mr. Adamyan, were you hoping to be drawn against a different side in the round of 16, or are you looking forward to facing Bayern on the road?
Sargis Adamyan: Let’s put it this way: we would have also been happy to face Bayern later on in this competition (grins). But, if you want to go far in the DFB-Pokal, it’s inevitable that you have to win against Bayern at some point. We’re looking forward to the match.
DFB.de: You have very good memories of facing Bayern. You scored both goals in a 2-1 win for Hoffenheim on matchday 7 in Munich. Was that the best game you’ve ever played in your life?
Adamyan: Yes, you can definitely say that. The match was a great experience for me. Actually, the game hadn’t gotten off to a great start for me. I missed a massive chance in the 5th minute, where I was all alone in front of goal. But, I kept my head up high, kept working for the team and was rewarded for that in the end.
DFB.de: What can you take from that match into the upcoming game against Bayern?
Adamyan: Back then, everyone ran and fought hard for every inch. We need to bring that same fighting spirit to the game, in order to have a chance.
DFB.de: Are there certain players at Bayern that you really admire?
Adamyan: Of course, for example, Robert Lewandowski and Philippe Coutinho are both exceptional players that I enjoy watching.
DFB.de: You’re 26 years old and only made your Bundesliga debut this season. Just over two and a half years ago, you were still playing in the Regionalliga for TSV Steinbach Haiger. Be honest: what would you have said if someone had predicted that you’d advance so quickly up the ranks?
Adamyan: I definitely would not have believed it, at the time. But, football moves at a rapid speed. My career is a perfect example of that. I always worked hard for it, and never gave up. In the end, that effort was rewarded.
DFB.de: You started playing in Hansa Rostock’s youth academy and made your debut in the 3. Liga in 2012/13. After eight appearances, you were moved back down to the reserves and later joined Regionalliga side TSG Neustrelitz. Why weren’t you able to break through in Rostock?
Adamyan: It wasn’t an easy time for the club. Hansa Rostock were in the middle of a relegation battle, which meant that young players weren’t really getting the chance to prove themselves. There were several others who also weren’t able to establish themselves at Rostock at the time and who later joined Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2 sides. For example, there’s Ben Zolinski who plays for Paderborn now, Nils Quaschner for Bielefeld or Tom Weilandt in Bochum.
DFB.de: Was it a big setback for you to have to take the long way via the Regionalliga?
Adamyan: I didn’t really think much of it. I just wanted to play. In that regard, it was the right decision to play in the Regionalliga.
DFB.de: Were you focused fully on football while you were in the Regionalliga, or did you have a job on the side?
Adamyan: I was fully focused on football, even in the Regionalliga. When I was in Rostock, I had started studying to become a businessman. I had to cut that short in order to join Neustrelitz in the Regionalliga.
DFB.de: A risky move...
Adamyan: I knew what the risks were. But, I really wanted to play football. Even my parents were in full support of my decision.
DFB.de: You had your breakthrough season while at TSV Steinbach Haiger in 2016/17, and scored 16 goals in the Regionalliga. What provoked that?
Adamyan: We just had a really cool squad, and it was a lot of fun to play for that team. The club was like a family, and I really felt supported there. That helped me.
DFB.de: From the Regionalliga, you then joined SSV Jahn Regensburg in Bundesliga 2 before moving to Hoffenheim two years later. How difficult was it to adjust to the higher level of play?
Adamyan: I’ve always had to adjust to the level of every league I’ve played in. But, I’ve always been able to do so pretty quickly. I would say that making the jump from Bundesliga 2 to the Bundesliga was even bigger than going from the Regionalliga to Bundesliga 2. The quality of football in the Bundesliga is yet another step up, and the speed is much higher.
DFB.de: You first joined a football club at the age of 12. Why so late?
Adamyan: I played football on the street every day from the age of about five. I played table tennis for a club and I was doing pretty well: I was regional youth champion in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. But, once I reached 11, I didn't want to play table tennis anymore and instead joined 1. FC Neubrandenburg 04.
DFB.de: That was clearly the right call. You're now an Armenia international and you've made 18 appearances for your country. Your team finished fifth in your 2020 EURO qualifying group but managed a total of ten points. What kind of potential does Armenian football have?
Adamyan: Armenia has a lot of potential but there's still a lot of progress to be made. Unfortunately, we only have a few players playing in Europe's best leagues. Ex-Dortmund player Henrikh Mkhitaryan now plays for AS Roma in Italy, I play in the Bundesliga and there are a few others playing in Russia. But there are loads of guys still playing in Armenia. They're not used to the higher tempo of international games.
DFB.de: Are you hopeful that Armenia will make it to the Euros in Germany in 2024?
Adamyan: I wouldn't rule it out but we'd have to do incredibly well in qualifying.