First international game, first assist, first win. Philipp Max played a decisive role in the 1-0 victory over the Czech Republic, his debut for the Germany national team. In an interview with DFB.de, the 27-year-old PSV Eindhoven wing-back discusses his first appearance for his country and his recent move abroad.
DFB.de: Philipp, congratulations on your international debut! When did you find out you were playing and how did the day after go?
Philipp Max: First and foremost, I was delighted to be called up for the team, that alone is something very special. The fact that I started the match made it all the more special. I found out at midday that I was going to be in the starting XI. In the build-up to the game, I did all my usual preparations just as professionally and calmly as always, but I have to admit that as kick-off approached, I started to feel a bit nervous. But as soon as you’re out there on the pitch and involved in the game, the nerves quickly subside.
DFB.de: Have you already talked to your father Martin, who made a seven minute appearance for Germany in 2002?
Max: Yes, of course! (laughs) We spoke on the phone in the evening after the game. My family and friends were all very happy for me. It’s been a long road to the national team and it’s taken a lot of hard work and graft to get here, so I’m all the happier to have made my debut and that we were able to get the win.
DFB.de: You provided the assist for Luca Waldschmidt’s winning goal in the match and some experts have commented that it was a typical ‘Philipp Max ball’! What would you say makes you stand out as a winger in attacking terms?
Max: Basically I just try to get involved and stay active, whether that’s on the pitch or off it. As a wide player, I’m always on the move and I’m always trying to help attacks develop, so I have to stay active as much as possible. So when I can play a good ball, I’m happy to be able to help the team by creating a dangerous chance. My goal is always to play the best ball possible into the opposition’s penalty box.
DFB.de: Your name has been brought up a few times over the years in relation to the Germany national team. What was your experience of that?
Max: Naturally I’ve thought about being called up a few times over the years, but as time went on I let it fade into the background and the debate didn’t affect me as much. I realised that the only thing I could do to achieve that was to keep working on developing myself further. That’s something that fits closely with my way of thinking - I'm a very ambitious person and I’m always looking to improve. The call-up is my reward for all that hard work.
DFB.de: At the start of the season, you made the move from FC Augsburg to PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. With Mario Götze, Timo Baumgartl and Adrian Fein, not to mention coach Roger Schmidt, there are quite a few Germans currently under contract at the club. How are you finding life in Eindhoven?
Max: I knew that I wanted to play in Europe again after that great season with Augsburg. At Eindhoven, we’re in the Europa League and we want to stay top of the Eredivisie for as long as possible, although we know that Ajax are the favourites. The move to the Netherlands has allowed me to take the next step forwards in my career. To add to that, we’re playing a different kind of football here to what I was used to. There’s more of an emphasis on possession, creating chances, active defending, and transitioning quicker into pressing to win the ball back. This emphasis has helped me improve a lot as a player. Our head coach Roger Schmidt works very closely with each individual player and I got a real boost from this style of management in the first few weeks. The move to Eindhoven has definitely the right decision for me.
DFB.de: What are your goals for the next two international matches with the Germany national team?
Max: My main aims are to take a lot away with me, to absorb and learn as much as possible, and to be successful with the team. It’s important to remember that this is my first call up for Germany, even though I’m not one of the youngest players in the squad. I can learn a lot of new things from being around the rest of the players which will help me to develop as a player and as a person. Against the Czech Republic, we did a good job at building up attacks from deep as a team and playing out from the back to create scoring chances, but there’s obviously still plenty of room for improvement. But if we take the energy and willingness that we showed with us against the Ukraine, we’ll also be successful in that game as well.