Youssoufa Moukoko’s debut with the Germany U21s couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The youngster scored a brace in a 6-0 win against San Marino U21s to kick-start their qualifying campaign for the 2023 U21 EUROs. At the age of 16 years and 268 days, Moukoko is now the youngest goalscorer and youngest player to debut for the U21s. In an interview with DFB.de editor Karl Evers, the striker spoke about his records, the win against San Marino and the upcoming game against Latvia on Tuesday (18:15 CEST).
DFB.de: Mr. Moukoko, how would you rate the 6-0 win to open your U21 EUROs qualifying campaign?
Youssoufa Moukoko: We started well and were very strong during the first half. We were a bit too disorganised in the second half and resorted to playing too many long balls. However, that was mainly due to the fact that we made a lot of subs and the fact that we haven't had much time together yet. Overall, we can be pleased with the result and the most important thing is that we picked up all three points.
DFB.de: You scored a brace on your debut. How pleased are you with your performance?
Moukoko: Two goals and an assist are good and I can be satisfied with that. However, there were still several moments in the game where I should have done better. That’s why I want to continue to develop and to work on my weaknesses in order to be able to better help out the team.
DFB.de: What do you still want to work on?
Moukoko: Getting my shots off faster and being more of a team player.
DFB.de: Was it a special feeling to score for Germany at this level?
Moukoko: Yes, it felt really good. I’ve already gotten plenty of texts and saw that I’m the youngest player to ever score for the U21s. Of course I’m very proud of that. But, a record like that is worthless at the end of the day. Instead, it’s more of a motivation for me to continue to work hard.
DFB.de: What’s the mood like within the team over these first few days? After all, you guys are just stating to get to know one another.
Moukoko: It was a bit unusual on the first days, but the surroundings here are perfect to get settled into, which the coaches and other staff are also helping us with. We already get on pretty well, and it’s like we have been playing together for ages. It’s great to be on the pitch with these boys. Personally, I place a lot of importance on respect, honesty and having fun. We have all that, which gives us the perfect foundation in order to be able to achieve success together.
DFB.de: What makes spending time with the national team so special?
Moukoko: Everyone brings a different culture with them from their clubs, and there are a lot of different influences. That leads to a special blend. At the same time, we are a collective of all of the top youth players from our age group, and breaking into the national team is not easy. Making it here is something that fills you with pride.
DFB.de: On Tuesday you will play your second qualifier against Latvia. How will the team prepare for that game over the coming days?
Moukoko: First we will make sure to recover, and to reset ourselves. After that, we will start to focus on our upcoming opponents, who are playing tonight. I will try to watch the game, and of course our coaches will prepare us for our opponents. We want to beat Latvia and head home with six points in hand.
DFB.de: You have been part of the Dortmund first team for nearly a year now, and have already made your debut and scored in the Bundesliga. Now you’re playing for Germany’s most senior youth side. What do you think when you look back at the past year?
Moukoko: There were many highs and lows, such as my injury in March. But, that didn’t set me back. Instead, it motivated me to come back even stronger. In the beginning, it was hard to accept that I’d be forced to take a break for a while, but I was able to refocus on my rehabilitation after a few days. I was very proud to debut in the Bundesliga and to score, just like I was yesterday. I worked hard to get here. But, I still haven’t achieved anything concrete. My journey is just beginning and it’s far from being over.