Raum: "It is the dream of every youngster to play for your country in a World Cup and I am no different."
Another training session was on the agenda for the Germany Men’s national team’s third day in Gravenbruch, ahead of their upcoming international friendlies against Israel on Saturday (20:45 CET) and against the Netherlands on Tuesday (20:45 CEST). Following the session, Julian Weigl and David Raum spoke to the media, where they discussed how the first few days of the camp have gone and about the World Cup which is looming at the end of the year.
...returning to the national team setup after five years: I was extremely pleased when I got the call from Hansi. I wasn’t expecting it. When you’re putting in good performances for your club, you do get your hopes up a little bit, but it still came as a surprise. I was looking forward to seeing the lads again, and so I arrive here in Gravenbruch with a really positive energy. I’ve always looked out for when the national squad gets announced, and I’m more than aware that you have to be performing at the top level at your club week-in, week-out to earn your selection. But I never once said to myself at any time that my performances deserved to be rewarded with a call-up – I simply tried to keep concentration on myself and my game. Because of that, the eventual call-up was even more of a pleasant surprise.
...where he was when Hansi Flick called him: When the coach called me, I was with my teammate Soualiho Meité. I couldn’t believe that Hansi had called me and that I’d missed it. I knew I had to call him back. I was absolutely thrilled, we chatted for a short while and then I immediately rang my parents and my wife. They were some emotional phone calls. My family and my wife were also over the moon.
...how he’s developed whilst playing at Benfica: Generally speaking, I’m still the same player. What’s changed is that I’ve become more mature and more experienced – playing abroad has certainly helped me in this regard, as well as becoming a father. My daughter helps me to relax, as my life is so fast-paced. I’ve improved from a physical perspective, too. I’m a player who likes to organise things and to establish stability in a game. My main strengths concern building the attack, just like any typical number six, but I’m also getting better when taking shots at goal. I’ve got three goals already this season and am trying to score even more. I wouldn’t mind scoring my first international goal during the next two matches, either.
...the atmosphere in the team: It’s clear that everyone really wants to be here, and the standard in training is very high. It’s a really good team environment. I haven’t been here for five years, but the lads have made me feel very welcome. I could sense that there was a really good energy here amongst the squad and that everyone’s looking out for each other. The training matches are still very competitive, of course.
...his chances of making an appearance: I’m trying to go about it in a relaxed way. I hope to get some minutes so that I can prove myself. I need to keep a cool head, play my game and incorporate the ideas of the coach as well, instead of going crazy and trying to show off on the pitch. I think this is the best way to approach it, and I hope to do a good job if given the opportunity.
...his chances of making the World Cup: I’m trying to show off what I can do every day that I’m here, as well as take on board the ideas of the head coach and work them into my game. I’m asking for the ball a lot in the sessions and I’m not afraid to do so, because that’s how I’m going to prove to the head coach that I’m a serious option for the World Cup squad, because I can be relied upon at any time and that I can put in a solid performance when needed.
...the journey the national team has been on in the past few years: I’ve followed the team closely throughout all the tournaments and been fully behind them. They haven’t been our best performances, compared to what the national team achieved in the years before that, but starting afresh seems to have created a new bounce for the side. New ideas can be really good to a team at the right time. Now the lads are getting used to playing with each other, their last few matches have been superb. It’s now all about continuing this good run.
...his playing style: I’m proud of my possession record which I was able to take off of my idol, Xavi. But it’s not just about keeping possession with me. I like to bring teammates into the game with my passes and dictate the rhythm of the match. It’s important that my presence here matches that which I have at club level. I mustn’t go into hiding but instead show for the ball and be a present figure in the game.
...the attention he and his side are drawing in Germany: I always want to remain in focus, and in Portugal we’ve got huge focus on us. You hope to attract some attention from Germany, and I think our progression in the Champions League has helped that.
...the match against Israel: Every time a German national team plays, they need to concentrate on their own ideas and simply play their own game. We’ll be ready for the match.
Weigl: “I’ve become more mature and more experienced – playing abroad has certainly helped me in this regard”
…the “home game” against Israel: This is a special game for me in my “home ground.” On top of that, I will be against my teammate Munas Dabbur. There might also be other teammates in the stands. It is something special playing at home and if I manage to play then it will be even more special.
…his knowledge of the Israeli team: I am really good friends with Manus Dabbur. He’s told me how Israel have lots of talented young players. I am looking forward to the game and seeing him out on the field.
…the World Cup: A World Cup year is something special, and it means a lot to me personally. I’ve been in the set-up for the last year and it has been an honour. First and foremost it’s about keeping fit and giving it everything for the club. It is the dream of every youngster to play for your country in a World Cup and I am no different. In every training session I try and give it everything I’ve got. The opponents we are facing are getting bigger and bigger. We have to continue to mature as a team, to improve and then have a successful tournament.
…the large amount of former U21s being chosen for the first team: First and foremost, this speaks volumes of how well the U21s and the other youth teams are set up. My time in the U21s gave me a lot and we won the U21 European Championship as underdogs. The fact that so many players from that generation are in the first team is great.
…his strengths in the wide areas: I am here because of my strengths in the wide areas. It’s a different style of play here in comparison to my club. I play how the coach wants me to play, whether it is for club or country. I always try and give my best and try and play as well on the wing as I do for my club.
…the competition for places: I was really well received here. We all have our own qualities and are all attack-minded. That doesn’t however mean that we are bad defensively. Our task is to make it as difficult as possible for the head coach with both our performances here and for our club.”
…his personal development: It’s been a crazy year and everything has moved so fast. The promotion to the Bundesliga, the title with the U21s and the move to Hoffenheim. Taking part in the Olympics was also an honour even if it wasn’t a success. The fact that I have once again been called up to the national team is something I could only have dreamt of. For me it’s really important to maintain a high standard. I try and stay fit and that is the most important thing. I want make a good account of myself at my club and improve step-by-step. I want to play on the international stage with Hoffenheim and continue to put in good performances and give it everything I have got.
…his recipe for success: You have to look after your body. I have done Yoga for while now. I have been injury free for a long time and that’s important for a young sportsman. I am trying to take the next steps and put in good performances on the pitch. The more often you play, the more you can develop. But sometimes you are allowed to reward yourself with something sweet.
…TSG Hoffenheim: Hoffenheim is a club that produces lots of talent. Many players have gone on to play for some huge clubs. That is no fluke. I got my chance here right away and I am really content. You have your peace and quiet and you can develop here and build on your strengths. It’s a great environment to nurture young players.
…his role model: I really admire Andrew Robertson at Liverpool. He is aggressive in defence and is very dangerous out wide. I really looked up to him in my early years. I have based some of my game on his but I also want to develop my own style of play.