With preparations underway in South Tyrol for the upcoming U21 EURO quarterfinal against Denmark, Germany can count two newcomers to their ranks in Shinta Appelkamp (Fortuna Düsseldorf) and Armel Bella-Kotchap (VfL Bochum). However, the duo have only joined up with the team to help out during training camp.
Appelkamp received the news of his call-up following Düsseldorf’s final match of the season against Fürth. It was “an incredible feeling,” said the 20-year-old, who was born in Tokyo. Appelkamp moved to Germany in 2015, landing in Düsseldorf, which is home to Germany’s largest Japanese community. Though it might seem shocking at first that he’s fluent in German after only having lived here for six years, there's a good reason for this: Appelkamp was born to a Japanese mother and German father. He also attended a German school in Yokohama.
Now, a new chapter has opened for Appelkamp, following his first call-up to train with the U21s. Although he won’t be heading to the EUROs with the team, he will instead be part of the next generation of players who will seek to qualify for the 2023 edition of the tournament under head coach Stefan Kuntz next season. Appelkamp has been able to pick up on one thing already: “The harmony is good here, which is what defines the team.”
Armel Bella-Kotchap, meanwhile, will be riding high on his club’s recent success. He found out about his call-up to the team while Bochum were busy celebrating their promotion to the Bundesliga on Sunday. “All of a sudden the coach was calling me and he told me I’d be joining them. I was of course very happy to hear that,” said the 19-year-old centre-back. Although Bella-Kotchap will have to wait to make his debut and will have to follow the U21 EUROs on TV, he is “still proud to be here. I will take this experience with me and will try to learn from the older players in order to implement these lessons the next time.”