In November 2018 Lukas Nmecha scored for England's U20s against Germany. Four months later, he was wearing the Germany U21 shirt. A lot has happened in the attacker's career this year. What's next?
It’s pretty surreal what can happen in a year. U21 international Lukas Nmecha has had such an eventful one. In November 2018, he played with the English U20 national team against the German side. The 21-year-old striker came on in the 63rd minute to seal a 2-0 victory for England on that day, converting past a certain Markus Schubert in the goal of the Germany U20 side. Also on the pitch: Dženis Burnic, Niklas Dorsch, Johannes Eggestein, Salih Özcan and Nico Schlotterbeck. Exactly a year later, in November 2019, Nmecha found himself on the opposite side - in the squad of the German U21 national team for the European Championship qualifier against Belgium. So Lukas Nmecha has experienced a lot in this one year - and the U20 game in Colchester was just the beginning of this special story.
When Stefan Kuntz announced his U21 squad for the international matches against France and England around four months later in March 2019, he surprised everyone with one of his selections: Lukas Nmecha. "He has expressed his interest in playing for the DFB and his native Germany," said Joti Chatzialexiou, sporting director of national teams, at the time when the German-English player was nominated. "I’m really happy I came over here," said Nmecha. "I grew up in Hamburg and lived there for nine years. That's why I chose Germany."
Having arrived with the U21s, the striker, who was loaned from Manchester City to the English second division club Preston North End, waited for his work permit. So he missed the first international match against France, but got the green light just before the game against England. From the 59th minute, Nmecha was allowed to play against his "old" nation. "Of course that was a bit surreal for me," he said after the game which the German team won 2-1. While the game was an important dress rehearsal for the European Championship for Stefan Kuntz, the U21 newcomer "didn't really have the tournament in mind." And yet Nmecha was in the running for the European Championship squad a few months later: "a super cool feeling!"
He even played a significant part in the German U21s getting to the final: In the 4-2 win against Romania, the German-Englishman managed to get two free kicks at the edge of the box just before the end, which Luca Waldschmidt and Nadiem Amiri each transformed in to goals. "Even if it wasn't enough to win the title in the end, we had a great team. So many players with Bundesliga experience," said Nmecha. "I really learned a lot during this time."
With Amiri, Waldschmidt, Lukas Klostermann, Robin Koch, Suat Serdar and Jonathan Tah, six players from the U21 European Championship squad have already played in the senior team. Could Nmecha do the same at some point? "Yes, of course. We are all in the U21s because we want to take the next step. But first you have to show what you can do here." He doesn't think much of a fixed career plan anyway: "I don't really think about what will happen in the future. God has a plan for everyone. And this is mine." After the EURO U21s, the plan entailed a loan move for Nmecha from Manchester City to Wolfsburg. In August, VfL managing director Jörg Schmadtke brought him to
Lower Saxony. Nmecha started his first game in Dortmund, where he hit the crossbar at 0-0 but lost the Wolves 0-3 in the end. "If I’d have put it in, I might play the next game," he said. "As a striker, it's a game of extremes: everything can change if you score. That's why it's difficult, but all the more important not to get frustrated."
His family, above all, gives him support. His father, who comes from Nigeria, comes "every two or three weeks," Nmecha told us. "Of course he also wants me to play and always says: 'You have to play, the coach has to let you play! You can do so much.' He's just super excited about me and that makes me proud." His father is an incredibly important supporter for Nmecha, who lives alone for the first time after moving to Wolfsburg at the age of 20. Well, almost alone: he lives with his dog Creed.
Nmecha played 90 minutes in the European Championship qualifier against Belgium in Freiburg, which the team lost 3-2. He still remembers the U20 game in Colchester from November 2018, but: "It feels like a lot longer than a year in my head. Everything happens so quickly in football." Before you know it, it’ll be November 2020.