These two are a breath of fresh air, both on and off the pitch. Nadiem Amiri of Bayer Leverkusen and Suat Serdar of Schalke 04 turned up for their first interview as full Germany internationals in high spirits. Just last summer, the pair was competing at the EURO U21 tournament and finished second with Germany. Now, they have the chance to prove themselves on a bigger stage. We spoke to Amiri and Serdar about their first DFB senior call up, their style of play and special milestones in their respective careers.
DFB.de: Mr Amiri, Mr Serdar, do you know which one of you played more games for the Germany youth teams?
Suat Serdar: I’m guessing Nadiem… (laughs)
Nadiem Amiri: Thanks, but I think you’re ahead.
DFB.de: No, Mr Amiri, you have in fact made more appearances for the DFB youth teams – 51 in total. Mr Serdar, you have played 39 games. To what extend does your experience with the youth teams help settle in quickly with the senior national team?
Amiri: It’s an advantage when you know how everything works from playing in the youth teams, or even just having some experience dealing with the rhythm of an international break. It means you’ve often had experience playing with the one player or other.
Serdar: Yes it’s definitely helpful. At the same time though, everything is a step up with the first team – we’ve noticed that straight away.
DFB.de: Which players do you know from the youth teams?
Amiri: We won the U21 EUROS with Niklas Stark and Serge Gnabry in 2017. Thilo Kehrer, who’s currently out injured, was also part of the team. This summer we also had Jonathan Tah and Lukas Klostermann in the U21 squad – two players who’ve already got more experience with the first team. And you of course, Suat...
Serdar: …We also played with Luca Waldschmidt and Robin Koch at the U21 EUROS, and we know lots of others from the Bundesliga. It is nice to see some familiar faces.
DFB.de: How surprised were you about the call-up?
Amiri: I always hoped to be called up to the national team one day. When assistant coach Marcus Sorg told me to ring Löw, I was very excited. I am now delighted to be here for the first time.
Serdar: It’s definitely a dream come true. We want to present ourselves as best we can while we’re here, we want to learn a lot and leave a good impression, so that we can be an option in future as well.
DFB.de: You’ve now completed your first few training sessions with the team. How has it been?
Serdar: Everything is bit quicker on the pitch here. Lots of the players have great experience at a high level, internationally as well. It’s exciting to see how they deal with certain game situations differently – we can learn a lot from that in order to try and improve our own game.
Amiri: Of course, we have really good teammates at Leverkusen and Suat at Schalke, where you have to give everything in training, but you can see straight away with the national team that the very best players in Germany have come together, even with a few absentees.
DFB.de: Mr Serdar, what defines Nadiem Amiri as a player?
Serdar: Nadiem is an enthusiastic player and is cheeky, in a good way. He likes to dribble with the ball, always looks for the chance to shoot and pulls out the odd surprise here and there. Scoring in the EURO U21 final was no fluke.
DFB.de: Mr Amiri, your turn...
Amiri: Suat is a very dynamic player and has a really good mentality, which pushes you as a player. He wins his defensive challenges and drives the game forward. He’s also shown that he can finish with three goals already this season.
DFB.de: Mr Amiri, you made your Bundesliga debut at 18 years old for Hoffenheim, but after that you had to play for the reserves for a while and remained on call as back up for the Germany youth teams. What did you learn from this spell?
Amiri: I am very grateful for this stage in my career. Today, I can say that it made me stronger, that I needed this minor setback. It helped me understand that you have to work hard and never be satisfied with your own success. It was the most educational phase of my playing career. I am glad it was all uphill from there and I will continue doing everything to improve.
DFB.de: Mr Serdar, you’ve taken part in a European championship on home soil in 2016 with the U19s in Baden-Württemberg. To what extend does this give you extra motivation to want to take part in another tournament on home soil in 2024, on the biggest stage?
Serdar: Back then we were 18, 19 years old and suddenly we were playing in a European championship in front of 50,000 spectators in Stuttgart. That was a superb experience. The tournament didn’t go so well for us, but as the fifth placed team we still managed to qualify for the World Cup. I was able to take a lot on board and obviously it would be incredible if I could play for Germany at EURO 2024. There are still a few years to go before that, however, in which we want to prove ourselves. For me personally, and for Nadiem, it’s all about making a good impression with the coach during this international week. So far, it’s been really enjoyable.