… the young squad: With young and interesting players, we are building a new team that need to find themselves. We want to continue on the path that we took after the World Cup, and be even more in touch with the fans and also build on the positive image of the team. We will be able to manage that with the young players – we want to demonstrate the excitement of football with them. Therefore, we need and want to work hard. Of course we only have a few days with the team. My job is to continue to support Joachim Löw and allow the young players to develop in our environment.
… his own claims: We want to qualify comfortably. That means we want to be positive and successful in all of our games. We are a young team with many players with a lot of potential, but like all young players, it is normal to make some mistakes. Therefore, I hope the fans can show some patience. Other nations such as the Netherlands and France also needed time. We have so much potential and talent – it is a new start and we’re writing a new chapter. We need to go into it with vigor, joy and commitment. We want to be on top of the world again.
… being favourites in the upcoming games: We are not favourites for the game in the Netherlands. For the other games against Serbia and the other teams in our qualification group, we are. We have a lot of young and interesting players who we can be proud of. We have a good platform that they can build on. Until recently, our squad contained many players from the World Cup winning team, but we have already seen at the Confederations Cup what the younger players can do. That’s what we want to build on.
… the debutants Maximilian Eggestein, Lukas Klostermann and Niklas Stark: It is the first time for these three guys. It is a sign that the coaches believe in them. Now they have to familiarise themselves and be disciplined and concentrated in training.
… youth development: I don’t want to say it’s all doom and gloom. We’re in a more comfortable situation now compared with 2004. Obviously we’ve realized that we have fewer exceptional players at U16 and U17 level, but we have a lot of talented players at the moment who we need to develop further. We have a good basis to fall back on. We have to take advantage of that in the next two to four years.
… German club football: We put in some bad performances against the English clubs, but the Bundesliga has quality. We’re behind the English league with the opportunity to improve. It will start to look more positive short to mid-term.
… time with the national team: I’m very pleased to be back here. We have a lot in front of us and want to win the two games. The team has got younger. A lot of young players now need to take on responsibility, and we have to learn to do that. It’s kind of a makeover. The players that are here with do everything they can to be successful with the national team. You can always try to take a leaf out of the book of Mats Hummels, Thomas Müller and Jerome Boateng. I’ve learned a lot from them.
… the comparison of generations in German football: the generations are already different. Now we have a lot of players who enjoy one-on-ones and playing playground football. That will do us good.
… his memories of Wolfsburg: VfL Wolfsburg are a massive reason that I’m sitting here. I have a lot of people to thank here. Wolfsburg is a special place and I have a lot of great memories. I became Germans champions with the youth team here. A lot happened here that shaped me.###more###