Benjamin Henrichs knows what it takes to win a major tournament. The 24-year-old lifted the Confederations Cup with Germany in 2017, and also represented his country at U17, U19 and U21 level at the European Championships. Now, four years later, the RB Leipzig man is fulfilling a childhood dream as part of the Germany team for the Olympic Games. Six days ahead of the team’s opening game against Brazil on 22nd July (13:30 CEST), Henrichs spoke to the media. DFB.de has summarised the most important quotes.
… participation in the Olympics: Meeting my club head coach a week prior was important for me. I have a good feeling; he spoke with me a lot. Therefore, I know what’s waiting for me when I return.
… his childhood dream of the Olympic Games: The anticipation is huge. I can still remember Usain Bolt’s world record. I set my alarm because the running events were taking place overnight and I was still going to school. Since then, I’ve always dreamed of being a part of the Games myself. To have achieved that dream now fills me with pride.
… goals and the opening game: I definitely want to see the Olympic village and get as far as possible. To do so, we need to get through the opening stage. After the Brazil game, we’ll know where we stand. The Brazilian team has been together for around a month, whereas we met up only two or three days ago. That game will be a good indicator for us.
… the day-to-day: Even the smallest details are thought of. We do a Covid test before every breakfast and we don’t have any contact at all with the other guests. We’re in no way locked in, but due to the hygiene measures, we’re not allowed free reign. However, you’re not bored because there’s the rest of the group and our teammates.
… the weather: It is very humid here; it's a big difference to Germany. It reminds me of the weather at the Confed Cup in 2017. The semi-final against Mexico was one of the most difficult games for me. That's one of the reasons why we arrived so early now, in order to adjust.
… the atmosphere despite a lack of supporters: Health comes first. Therefore, the measures are understandable if they can help to reduce cases of Coronavirus. I’m hoping it’ll have the same effect as for the U21s. With each game, the interest grew, the players became more and more in focus. That would also be a good situation for us.
… Max Kruse: You can tell that he’s really up for the tournament. He wants to lead and gives the younger players a big motivational boost thanks to his experience. Of course, you want to do the same.
… team spirit: Stefan Kuntz is known for building a team into a real unit in a short space of time. We do a lot of competitions in training. For example, yesterday we played in situations where we had three goals in different directions. The losing teams then had to either say some sentences in Japanese or sing a Japanese song later in the evening. You can see how we’ve quickly grown together both on and off the pitch.
… his chance to show himself: The Germany coach will definitely watch the tournament, but I’m not thinking about the first team after last season when I was injured a lot. I’m just concentrating on this tournament now and then attacking the new season with Leipzig.
… RB Leipzig head coach Jesse Marsch: He places a lot of value on team spirit and mentality. The team always comes first. In one week, he’s communicated so much with me; I’ve never had it like that before. In the dressing room or when we’re eating, he goes out of his way to hold conversations with the players, also about things other than football. And the training is very intense. (laughs)