Germany international Robin Gosens is a late bloomer, as the Atalanta winger only joined a professional football club aged 18. Gosens still has close ties with amateur football. In part two of the interview with DFB.de, Gosens discusses his trial at Borussia Dortmund, Anfield, and his childhood dream of becoming a police officer.
DFB.de: An important moment in your career was the trial at Borussia Dortmund U19s, which didn’t have the outcome you’d have hoped for. You later admitted that you didn’t have the basics and that the experience was an eye-opener for you. How did you manage to catch up with the young players who were part of academies?
Robin Gosens: The most important thing is discipline and the right mentality. I’m definitely not blessed with the most talent, but rather with character, discipline and mentality, which is what distinguished me at the time. The trial at Dortmund was not successful, but they had invited me, so there must have been something about me. When I got the chance in the Netherlands, I worked on myself a lot. It was an absolute stroke of luck that I did well there, because in the Netherlands, the basics are the most important. Technique, first touch, coordination. I’d never specifically trained those things before. There are definitely a lot of footballers who have more talent than me, but haven’t had a career like mine. Therefore, I’d say that in today’s game, mentality isn’t something to be overlooked.
DFB.de: What would you have been if you hadn’t made it as a footballer?
Gosens: I wanted to be a police officer; I was quite certain of that. When my grandfather first put me in his police car when I was seven, I thought I would follow in his footsteps. If it hadn't worked out in football, I probably would have gone down that route first. Looking back, I'm glad I didn't have to because I don't think I would have been happy in the long run. Thinking now, I would rather see myself in the field of psychology.
DFB.de: After your international debut in September against Spain, your thoughts were relatively quickly back to a paper for your psychology studies. How important is this distraction from football to you?
Gosens: It’s essential. I’m a very emotional player who is always reflecting and trying to do things better. Therefore, I sometimes get worked up, am over-ambitious or get too involved in things. Studying is important for me to get my head away from football. In general it’s not good when you’re only thinking about work. Studying keeps me grounded and shows me that there are also other things to focus on, which is worth it’s weight in gold for me mentally. My plan is to do a Master's degree in sports psychology after I complete my Bachelor's degree.
DFB.de: You’ve been playing in the Serie A for Atalanta for three years, as well as the Champions League and you are also a Germany international. Have you got used to the big stage?
Gosens: No, and hopefully it won’t become a normality for me. In my eyes and with respect to the journey that I’ve been on, it is simply not normal to run out against Liverpool at Anfield, let alone score a goal. Who do you tell about that? It shouldn’t be considered normal. It’s what millions of children dream of. Of course, you need a certain routine to be able to perform to your best, but if I were to consider what I am experiencing as normal, I would be going about it the wrong way. That would be the moment when I'd say: I'm not enjoying it.
DFB.de: How much of the amateur Robin Gosens still exists within the international Robin Gosens?
Gosens: Amateur football is a huge part of my DNA and the way I am on the pitch, as well as my personality. I have this jumpers for goalposts mentality, and I hope it stays that way. Boys from boarding school also had to think egotistically somewhere in order to be one of very many. You can't blame them for that. However, I personally was playing with my friends until I was 18. For me, the team spirit is much more important. When I'm on the bench, I'm not happy either, but I'm happy when the boys win. Some other players, meanwhile, are hoping that their competition have a bad game.
DFB.de: Could you see yourself playing with old friends back in your hometown of Emmerich after your career?
Gosens: That is the plan - we talk about it regularly. It's actually been planned for years, that we’ll all try to get together again to play football. I think it's a shame that we can't do it at the moment because of my job, because at the end of the day, the best thing is to be on the pitch with the boys just having fun. I look forward to taking it easy and having a beer with them.