Karim Adeyemi is the only newbie in Germany’s U21 squad for the knockout rounds of the U21 European championship. The 19-year-old forward from RB Salzburg spoke in an interview with DFB.de about his first impressions, his appearances in the Champions League and next Monday night’s EURO quarterfinal against Denmark.
DFB.de: Mr. Adeyemi, you’ve been with the U21s since Monday. How has your first time here been so far?
Karim Adeyemi: I travelled here with Mergim (Berisha), my teammate at Salzburg. He introduced me to the other lads – my first impression was very positive. The atmosphere at training has been really relaxed and pleasant so far as well.
DFB.de: Did you speak to Mergim Berisha about the U21s beforehand?
Adeyemi: He told me to relax and just play like I do in Salzburg. Even though I’m one of the youngest players here, he said not be scared and just to try and prove myself.
DFB.de: How did you find out you had been called up?
Adeyemi: The coach called me and told me that I was part of the squad. I was obviously extremely happy. Playing for the national team is something very special for me. Now I’m here and really looking forward to what lies ahead.
DFB.de: You are at home in attack, but with your physique you’re not the typical striker. How would you characterise yourself?
Adeyemi: Correct, I’m not the typical tank-like striker, but I still feel comfortable in every attacking position, be that in the centre or out wide. I would describe myself as a very nimble striker who goes all out up front, annoys the opponent and puts them under pressure. My pace is my greatest asset.
DFB.de: Going back to Mergim Berisha. Not only do you two know each other as people, but especially as players. To what extent will that help you here?
Adeyemi: It helps an awful lot. We’ve played up front together a lot at Salzburg. I know what Mergim is capable of and he knows what I can do. Mergim is extremely good with that final ball in behind. I can benefit from that here as well.
DFB.de: You’ve made three Champions League appearances for Salzburg, including against Bayern München and Atletico Madrid. What was your take-away from these games?
Adeyemi: Fun, most of all. Playing in these games was a childhood dream come true for me. The fact that I scored a goal in the process as well was unreal. It was a special experience playing against teams like this, it’s something that takes a bit of time to sink in. And now I’m pumped for more international action.
DFB.de: In 2019, you won the Fritz Walter medal in gold – just like Florian Wirtz did last year. Is this added pressure or motivation for you?
Adeyemi: This award has always been motivation for me, because it is a great honour which I would obviously like to justify. That’s another reason why I want to prove myself here: to show that I deserve this medal. Above all, however, I want to be able to help the team as best I can.
DFB.de: You’ll be going straight into knockout games at the European championship. Is this ‘all-or-nothing‘-feeling something that motivates you as well?
Adeyemi: The impression I get from the lads is that they’re all pumped for these knockout games now. Everyone wants to go through and hopefully win the tournament. And I think this team can do it.
DFB.de: What do you expect from Denmark in the quarterfinal?
Adeyemi: They picked up nine points in their group, beating France among others. That’s an outstanding feat. So we can expect a very good team. But if we play to our strengths on the pitch I am sure we can beat them.