Sunday afternoon, 15:50, Karlsruher Wildparkstadion. It’s 1-1 in the second league game between Karlsruher SC and Dynamo Dresden. An aerial battle sees Benedikt Gimber and Stefan Kutschke clash, and both of them fall to the ground and stay there. Both players need to be taken off.
The good news: both players have recovered. Kutschke will probably be ready to play again against Dresden on Friday, whilst Gimber, captain of the Germany U20s, has been with on national duty with his country in Daejeon since Wednesday. The defender talks with Peter Scheffler in a DFB.de interview on the challenge, the end of the season, and his plans for the U20 World Cup in South Korea from May 20th to June 10th.
DFB.de: Mr Gimber, first the most important question: How are you both?
Benedikt Gimber: Good thanks! The collision is in the past now, and my diagnosis confirmed that everything was fine.
DFB.de: What memories do you have of your last game?
Gimber: I can still recall the first 20 minutes, how we took the lead and then conceded to make it 1-1, but I have no memories of the game after the collision with Stefan Kutschke.
DFB.de: Have you watched a replay of the scene?
Gimber: Yes, it looks nasty. It’s like watching it from a stranger’s perspective though, as I don’t remember any of it whatsoever.
DFB.de: That’s probably for the best.
Gimber: I agree. Otherwise I would have perhaps had second thoughts about the next I go in for an aerial duel.
DFB.de: How has the end of your season been?
Gimber: One through which I have developed as both a player and as a person. We had a tough start in Sandhausen, and a lot of factors came together that meant we were unfortunate, and that meant I could never really find my footing. The move to Karlsruhe was definitely a step in the right direction.
DFB.de: Because you could show that you have what it takes to play in the 2. Bundesliga?
Gimber: Exactly. I got my chance at Karlsruhe and started in each of the last six games of the season. I’m thankful for that, even when it was confirmed that we’d be relegated from the 2. Bundesliga.
DFB.de: You’re back out on the pitch for the first time since the weekend today. How are you feeling?
Gimber: I’m still feeling the effects of the long journey, and I still have to get used to the climate here, but the same applies to a lot of the other players and teams. Otherwise, I’m quite happy. The training facilities are in top condition, and with the help of six players from Daejeon Citizen we’ve been able to play some 11-on-11.
DFB.de: The Germany squad is still missing four players, who are hopefully on their way soon. Is that a topic of conversation within the team?
Gimber: No. It was clear to all of us from the outset that it would be a difficult selection process and that almost all of us can play. We also have such a strong group, and I have the utmost of faith in each and every individual.
DFB.de: What has the team done to make an impression on you?
Gimber: The boys have appeared fit and motivated. We don’t have the big names in our squad, nobody here has left their mark on the international stage as of yet. However, the World Cup is a great opportunity for all of us to do so. Our team has shown that we have great character. I have known the boys for a while now and am looking forward to the coming weeks.
DFB.de: Has the team set a collective goal for themselves yet?
Gimber: No, in part due to our experiences at the U19 European Championship in 2016. Back then we determined that our goal was to lift the trophy, and we started superbly against Italy. Despite that, we lost the opener 1-0. After the second game, we were out of the tournament. Our last two performances confirmed our appearance in the World Cup qualifiers. Now we simply we want to see where we are from game to game without setting concrete goals for ourselves in advance.
DFB.de: You already played against Mexico in the Mercedes Benz Elite Cup in 2015 (1-0). Are you expecting a similarly tight game?
Gimber: Yes, and similarly fiery. The Mexicans have good individuals as well as heart and a strong mentality. Because of that, we have to stand strong and show the quality that we have on the pitch. That way we can win once more.
DFB.de: Do you feel the added responsibility of being captain of the U20s at a World Cup so far away from home?
Gimber: I have to lead from the front, off the pitch as well as on it. I do so on the field through my performance and my commands from the heart of defence. Aside from that, I see myself as someone the boys can talk to and a messenger between the team and the manager.