Top scorer at the European U21 Championships this summer, now receiving his first ever call-up to the German national team: Luca Waldschmidt is ready to take the next step. SC Freiburg’s forward has the chance to prove himself to Joachim Löw over the next few days. Waldschmidt talks to DFB.de about his first impressions, his development and Germany’s bid for qualification.
DFB.de: Mr. Waldschmidt, you have been with the national team for the first time for almost a week now, what are your first impressions?
Luca Waldschmidt: At first it’s a lot to take in of course. New players, new coaches and new physios, who all like to do things a bit differently than the youth team; I met all of them over the first few days. It’s been a pleasure to train with the rest of the squad, and to be involved within the national team. There’s a much higher tempo than with the U21s; you are given much less time and space so you need to act quickly.
DFB.de: At just 23-years-old you are the third youngest player in the squad, after Kai Havertz and Lukas Klostermann. What can you learn from training with such experienced teammates?
Waldschmidt: Amongst other things, the way they are able to consistently perform at such a high level. There are lots of players in the squad who have already achieved a lot in their careers. You can see just how composed they are when they’re on the pitch. They can also react quickly to certain situations throughout the match, and always seem to find a solution. I would like to reach their level, and watching them play is a great inspiration for me.
DFB.de: It’s worth mentioning that you have played for all of the German youth teams since the U16 level. Who from the current squad have you played with in the past? And how helpful is that for your integration into the team?
Waldschmidt: Of course that’s an advantage. I know a lot of the players who were born in 1995 and 1996. I have played with Timo (Werner), Jona (Jonathan Tah), Klosti (Lukas Kolstermann) and Thilo (Kehrer) a lot throughout the youth teams. I was given a very warm welcome and I felt at home right away.
DFB.de: You started your career at a small amateur club named SSV Frohnhausen in Hessen, before later moving to train at Eintracht Frankfurt’s performance centre and a DFB base camp. Are you a good example of the German youth development system?
Waldschmidt: I have always tried to make sure that I don’t skip any stages of my development, and to take it one step at a time. From Frohnhausen to Juno Burg, then to Wieseck and then finally to Eintracht Frankfurt, where I later made my Bundesliga debut. Each move was a step in the right direction, moving one league higher at a time so that I could continue my development steadily without moving too far out of my comfort zone.
DFB.de: You need to put in a strong performance as a team tonight at Windsor Park in Northern Ireland in order to stay on track for qualification. What are you expecting from the game?
Waldschmidt: Northern Ireland have won all of their qualifying games so far, which is no mean feat. They have the support of their fans and are well-known for having a great atmosphere. We are expecting a difficult game, but of course we are determined to win.
DFB.de: At the 2006 World Cup you were just 10 years old, Germany will now host two upcoming tournaments: the 2020 European Championships will be shared across four European nations, but the following competition in 2024 will only be held in Germany. What does it mean to you as players to potentially be a part of the squad for these special occasions?
Waldschmidt: When you are in and around the squad, and are faced with the prospect of playing in two European Championships in your own country, of course you want to be a part of it. It’s every footballer’s dream to represent your country in these occasions. However, this is only the first time that I have been called-up to the national team. I first need try to make a good first impression and to get used to the speed of the game – and hopefully I will be selected again for the next squad. So far I have done well to take my development step by step.