On time and with a smile, Florian Neuhaus arrives for our interview. The Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder has settled into the national team well following 23 appearances for the Germany youth teams and 62 Bundesliga appearances. Germany head coach Joachim Löw has called up the youngster to the senior squad for the first time and the 23-year-old could make his debut on Thursday against Spain (20:45 CEST), or on Sunday in Switzerland (20:45 CEST). He discusses telephone calls, tips, and teammates in an interview with DFB.de.
DFB.de: Florian, welcome to the national team! Meeting everyone for the first time, your first training session and the photoshoots – you’ve already done so much. What are your first impressions?
Florian Neuhaus: My first impressions have been really positive. I’ve been made to feel very welcome and the first few days with the team have been a lot of fun. Obviously it’s something special to complete your first training session with this group. It’s fantastic to be here and I want to make the most of this opportunity.
DFB.de: Where were you when you heard you’d been called up by head coach Joachim Löw? And how did he get in contact?
Neuhaus: I was actually at home at that point. When my phone rang, it occurred to me that it could be Joachim Löw. I knew a few of the digits of his phone number from some of the other boys at Gladbach so when I saw it, it suddenly clicked who was calling. (smiles)
DFB.de: What happened then?
Neuhaus: We had a great call and he explained to me why I‘d been called up, and then we spoke about the pre-season so far and a couple of other things. I really enjoyed the call and the conversation.
DFB.de: We’ve heard that afterwards, you had a few questions for Matthias Ginter about how everything works with the national team...
Neuhaus: He knows more about that than me! (laughs) But all jokes aside, Matthias and I have a really good connection and we get along very well, so he said that I could come to him if I had any questions about his experiences with the national team. Little insights like that help a lot with settling in to the team.
DFB.de: The last of your 23 international youth appearances was coincidentally also against Spain – the 2-1 defeat in the final of the European U21 Championship in 2019. You were playing alongside Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Suat Serdar, Jonathan Tah and Luca Waldschmidt in that game, who you are now reunited with.
Neuhaus: Yeah, that’s something else I’ve been looking forward to as I know so many of the players from the youth teams. It’s an advantage and it enables you to get your bearings more easily, because some things are similar across the different levels of the national team, even if everything is that little bit bigger in the senior squad. The defeat to Spain was a bitter feeling at the time, even more so because it was in the final and the title was at the forefront of our minds. But we haven't talked in detail about that game over the last few days; it’s too far in the past for that.
DFB.de: After the Nations League match against Spain, the second test for the team will be against Switzerland. How excited are you for the opportunity to go up against your Gladbach teammates Yann Sommer, Nico Elvedi, Michael Lang and Breel Embolo in an international match?
Neuhaus: We have two great games ahead of us, regardless of the names and the stories around them. Spain is a fantastic country and they have one of the best teams in the world. Likewise, Switzerland are also a good team and have several Bundesliga players who work well together. I’m looking forward to both games and to every minute that I get to take part, should I be picked.
DFB.de: At Borussia Mönchengladbach, you’ve been part of the first team for two seasons in a row now. What goals have you set yourself for the 2020/21 season?
Neuhaus: The last two years have gone very smoothly for me. As a club, we managed to achieve our most important goal of qualifying for the Champions League last season as well. In the new season, it’s important that we get off to a good start right from the off. My first priority is staying injury free so I can help the team out on the pitch and also develop myself further. It’s clear to me that at my age there are still several aspects of my game that I can work on. A personal goal for me is to increase my goal involvements, as it’s not exactly a bad thing to contribute to goals from defensive midfield and be a goal threat.
DFB.de: It was reported that you made a donation to help the retail industry in your home town of Kaufering, which was going through a difficult time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, just like the rest of the country. How important is it for you as a footballer to take responsibility off the pitch?
Neuhaus: It’s extremely important. I have a strong connection to my home in Kaufering and my family and a number of friends live in the region. I also know some people who work in retail, so it was an easy decision for me to give back during this difficult time and help them out. I think it's good to know for yourself where the support is going and where it’s needed, which is one of the reasons why I chose my home region for the donation.###more###