Germany U21s’ win over Denmark in the quarterfinals of the EUROs was a rollercoaster of emotions. Stefan Kuntz’s side put in a committed performance over 120 minutes and held their nerve in the penalty shootout to progress to the next round. Paul Jaeckel (SpVgg Greuther Fürth) in particular stayed calm, scoring the winning penalty. He spoke to DFB.de about just before that decisive spot-kick, the Germany defenders in front of goal and coming off the bench for extra time.
DFB.de: Mr, Jaeckel. You have reached the semi-finals with Germany U21s. How are you feeling a day after the quarterfinal win?
Jaeckel: I didn’t get much sleep! I had so much adrenaline still. Reaching the semi-finals feels great, especially when I was able to help get us there.
DFB.de: You contributed by scoring the decisive penalty in the shootout – right into the corner. How did you remain so calm?
Jaeckel: The lads backed me as I went to take it and their confidence spurred me on. I stopped thinking as I ran up. I just chose a corner and struck the ball there.
DFB.de: You, ‘Lasse’ Mai, Nico Schlotterbeck and Amos Pieper all took penalties despite being defenders. Was that a coincidence?
Jaeckel: More of us took one than originally planned. Defenders might not have that striker’s instinct, but for me penalties are just like an accurate pass into the corner and we are probably better passers of the ball with our instep than attackers.
DFB.de: It was also your first appearance at the tournament, coming off the bench for extra time. Was it easy to adjust?
Jaeckel: I didn’t have much time to think about it. I was told to get ready just before extra time and then I was brought on. I had to play well. In that situation, it was mainly about defending and I think I did well.
DFB.de: You came on at right-back, which is a position you’re not that familiar with.
Jaeckel: The coach has put me there in training quite often recently. Before the game, he told me I could play anywhere across the defence, so I wasn’t surprised to be being playing there.
DFB.de: What did the coach tell you?
Jaeckel: Just that I should enjoy it.
DFB.de: Have you been able to think about your next opponents yet, the Netherlands?
Jaeckel: It’s still a bit soon after yesterday’s game, but obviously our focus will start to switch to that game. We know they’ve got a very good team. The coach will prepare us accordingly. We will need to be at our best again in two days.