The euphoria following Liverpool’s sensational 4-3 comeback win over Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League quarterfinal is still very much lingering. "I think people will be talking about this match in ten years’ time," commented midfielder Emre Can, who was dealt a major blow in the aftermath of the match. It was revealed that Can has damaged his right ankle ligament and will be out for four to six weeks. What does this mean for his participation in the European Championships this summer (10th June to 10th July)? In an interview with Sport-Informations-Dienst, the 22-year-old makes a clear statement: "I am a fighter and I won’t let it get me down."
Question: Mr. Can, you said you could hardly sleep following this exciting match. Did you manage to finally get to sleep after the 4-3 win?
Emre Can: Hardly - about three hours.
Question: Due to adrenaline or due to the injury?
Can: Because of the game. I always struggle to sleep if I’ve played in the evening. This game was though something special, I’ve never seen anything like it. Jürgen Klopp told us at half time that we needed to believe in ourselves, and create a story we could tell our grandchildren about. And that’s what happened. I think people will be talking about this match in ten years’ time.
Question: Did you think the match had slipped away from you?
Can: We had already spoken before the game about having to win it in the last minute if we needed to, and we never stopped believing. Even after going into the break 2-0 down, I had a feeling we would manage it. When we made it 2-1 I knew we would pull it off. When they scored to make it 3-1 I doubted it for a couple of minutes. When we pulled a goal back again and made it 3-2 we all told ourselves: It’s now or never! The team, the fans, the manager, everyone was desperate for it to happen. That’s what made it possible.
Question: After all the excitement you were given a frustrating diagnosis: ligament tear in your right ankle. How did you take this news?
Can: Obviously it was a shock and very disappointing for me.
Question: The club are expecting you to be out for between four and six weeks. The EUROs start in around eight weeks. Should we be worried that you won’t be fit by then?
Can: I am a fighter and won’t let it get me down. I will give everything to try and be fit in time for the EUROS, and I am optimistic about achieving my goal.
Question: Your manager Jürgen Klopp, who always believes in you anyway, is also hopeful. He recently said it was good for you that he - a German manager - came to Liverpool. Do you also see it that way?
Can: I have a lot to thank Brendan Rodgers [former Liverpool manager] for. He brought me to Liverpool, and I always played under his management as well and learned a lot. But of course, it’s another thing having Klopp there. Those small details that you can get across better in your native tongue. It might be an advantage for him as well.
Question: Klopp allows you to play in your favourite position at this club. How important is that for you?
Can: I feel at home in the holding midfield position, I have said that more than once. But at Liverpool the situation is different from the one with the national side. I’m still one of the new boys there, so I would happily play in any position. Right back, left back, up front for all I care, if needs must. I have no demands in that regard.
Question: Have you ever considered that you might already have been able to play in defensive midfield for Turkey?
Can: No, never. I have played for Germany from the U15s and never once regretted the decision to play for Germany. I wanted to become a senior player here, and I have achieved that - for that I am nothing but proud.
Question: The Liverpool fans call you "Mr. Versatile", and sing "he plays everywhere." Is your versatility as a player an advantage or a disadvantage?
Can: It certainly has its downsides, but it is more an advantage to be able to help the team out in various positions if necessary. Fundamentally, though, I see myself in just one position, just like every other footballer.
Question: That’s where we see at your club as well. In the long run, you are considered to be the legitimate successor of the legendary Steven Gerrard. Does that motivate you or do you feel under pressure?
Can: It definitely makes me proud. But with all-due respect to Steven Gerrard: I’m Emre Can and want to go my own way.
Question: The current captain of Germany is injured. How important is Bastian Schweinsteiger for Die Mannschaft?
Can: Very important. He is still a great player and knows how to win titles.
Question: During last year’s U21 European Championship, you were a regular player and led your team into the semis where you lost 5-0 against Portugal. Afterwards you gave a remarkably self-critical interview. What made you do that?
Can: I just expressed how I was feeling at that moment. You should always be honest in interviews. I would do the same again now.
Question: The Germany manager Joachim Löw also praised your honesty after the interview. Do you think that in the end it had more positive than negative consequences for you?
Can:I do believe that, but I didn’t do it for show. I’m just a very honest person. There is no reason to lie, not in life and not in an interview. That’s why I always try to tell the truth even if it is sometimes unpleasant to hear.
Question: Since then you have been praised a lot. Do you think you have learned from it?
Can: Yes definitely. I have grown up and learned from my mistakes.
Question: Pep Guardiola was seemingly also very honest with you. Three years ago he sat down with you and you went on to change clubs. What do you think looking back now?
Can: I am very appreciative of his honesty. He told me he couldn’t guarantee me playing time. As a young player you want as much time as possible. I saw more opportunity in Leverkusen, and looking back now it was the correct decision.
Question: Do you have a return to the Bundesliga or Bayern in mind?
Can: No, not at the moment. I am very happy in Liverpool and have a long-term contract here. The Premier League was always my aim, it’s the best league in the world for me. I am happy here, I like it a lot.
Question: Do you still get goosebumps when the fans sing "you'll never walk alone"?
Can: Yes, before every game. The fans sing it with so much heart, it’s incredible. Something you simply have to experience.