Robin Gosens became the 106th debutant under national coach Joachim Löw on Thursday evening in the UEFA Nations League game against Spain in Stuttgart. The 26-year-old left back assisted Timo Werner’s goal in a 1-1 draw and witnessed the late equaliser from close on. Gosens spoke to DFB.de about his eventful debut and the next game against Switzerland.
DFB.de: Mr. Gosens, your debut was a fairly eventful one. Now you’ve had a night to sleep on it, what are your feelings on last night’s game? Are you pleased about your assist or disappointed about the late equaliser?
Robin Gosens: I’m mainly proud and happy. It was a dramatic evening with a number of different feelings. It was great to be able to start and assist a goal so soon. Obviously conceding an equaliser in the last minute is extremely frustrating, especially as I couldn’t do much about it and was still involved in a way. Overall, it was a great evening, which I will never forget. There will always be a small bitter feeling about the end too though.
DFB.de: How often have you watched back the two key moments that you were involved in?
Gosens: I’m not normally someone who watches back things I’ve done well, but rather things I need to improve, so I’ve watched back that moment just before the end of the game. I have been criticised for apparently not knowing the offside rule. I thought when I was off the pitch, I was no longer in the game. I didn’t actually know this part of the rule, I have to admit. I couldn’t have done much else though. I had to try and stop the cross and fell over the line. I wouldn’t have had the time to sprint back onto the pitch. Even if I had known the rule, it wouldn’t have changed anything. It was a disappointing end to a good game after a long break. We were so close to getting the reward for a good fighting performance.
DFB.de: Have you had time to read through and answer all the messages you’ve received?
Gosens: That will take a while longer. My phone almost exploded! I’ve had so many congratulations from different people. I was really pleased that old colleagues and coaches got in touch, even though I am rarely in contact with them. It shows that they are still following my progress. It’s simply great.
DFB.de: You have never played professional football in Germany but are now a Germany international. You have said yourself that you weren’t a special player as a youngster and had an unsuccessful trial at Dortmund’s U19s. Are you satisfied now you’ve reached this level?
Gosens: I was at a village club playing with my mates and seven years later I’m suddenly making my Germany debut against Spain in the Nations League. Nobody would believe you if you told them that. I’m really proud, but I don’t feel any sense of gratification. I’ve had a really unusual journey to get to this point and it’ll never be considered normal. I was never the most talented player who made the difference in games as a youngster, even if I was a good player. It proves that you can achieve great things if you have lots of discipline, the right mentality and put in the hours – even if your talent isn’t recognised until late.
DFB.de: You’re still missing the Bundesliga in your career…
Gosens: ... then I will have done it all. The Bundesliga has always been my dream league and I’ve followed it the most closely of any league. Playing in the Bundesliga would be something else.
DFB.de: Debut in the national side, an unlucky exit only in injury time in the Champions League quarter-final with Atalanta. You sometimes describe yourself as a “normal guy from the country”, but that doesn’t really hold up anymore, does it?
Gosens: Not entirely, that’s true. But I can honestly say that I’m the same normal kid that I was then. The boy from the countryside who, because it’s what comes with sport, is recognised in public and gathers greater attention. But just because I play for Germany, it doesn’t mean I’ve turned into a different person.
DFB.de: You always speak with great passion about amateur football, which you grew out of quite late. How much has amateur football influenced Robin Gosens?
Gosens: I’ve spent a huge amount of my life and an important part of my career in amateur football. The boys there maybe don’t play with the greatest quality, but they give it their all, they fight and they show so much passion for the sport. That’s where I learnt the virtues that I’ve taken with me and hope to keep with me in my career. It’s a part of me.
DFB.de: Instead of the white jersey that you wore last night, it could’ve been orange as you also have Dutch citizenship. Are you pleased that you no longer need this plan B?
Gosens: It’s still unbelievable that I had the choice between two such football-crazy nations. If someone had told me that three years ago, I would probably have dropped my beer from laughing. You can’t talk about a plan A and a plan B – choosing a country is always a decision close to your heart. I grew up in Germany but it was only 300 metres from the Dutch border. It’s the last village before the Netherlands so I obviously have an attachment with the country. But I made my decision because my heart beats for Germany. I’m so, so happy to represent this country.
DFB.de: You live in Bergamo at the moment, a city, a region whose inhabitants were particularly badly affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. During the full lockdown in March, when you weren’t allowed to leave your apartment, could you have imagined you’d be making your debut for the national side in September?
Gosens: At the time, it was a long way away – and that was the right thing. There were completely different problems in the foreground then, football was a long way away for me. People were dying in huge numbers, that’s the only way you can put it. It was a really, really dramatic time and everything else took a backseat. I’m glad that lots of people, including my family and I, got through that time unscathed. After a difficult time like that, a night like yesterday is simply magical. Maybe even a reward for battling through that time.
DFB.de: You study a psychology course at university from abroad. How does the psychologist Robin Gosens prepare the player Robin Gosens for the game in Switzerland on Sunday?
Gosens: Above all, it’s now about self-reflection. I’m open, honest and critical with myself. I don’t talk to myself with rose-tinted glasses and tell myself that I’ve had a brilliant game. I look at what I need to do better – there’s always something. I don’t think that a footballer can ever have a perfect game. I’m preparing for the next game with this in mind. Regeneration is key in order to be ready physically and mentally, and I try to achieve this through training on the one hand and by making sure my head is in the right place too. I still need to complete an essay for my studies and I hope to finish it this weekend.