Leroy Sané was actually hoping to make his comeback this spring, after almost recovering from the cruciate ligament tear that he suffered last year. The 24-year-old was looking forward to returning to the national team and aimed to be 100% fit in time for EURO 2020 at the latest. The Coronavirus pandemic has unfortunately put a spanner in the works for the winger, who spoke to DFB.de about this extraordinary period of time.
DFB.de: The most important question of all at the moment: How are you and your family?
Leroy Sané: My family and I are all very well, thank you. I’m especially enjoying being able to spend lots of time with my daughter. So I haven’t really been bored yet.
DFB.de: You recently played for the first time in a while for Manchester City’s youth team. How did you feel after such a long time out? And are you already back to full speed?
Sané: After being injured for such a long time I didn’t want to jump straight back in again, but rather take the time that my body needed. That’s why I suggested that I should play for the youth team first so that I could get used to the speed of the game step by step. Lots of people were surprised but for me it was the logical first step to make; that’s what I planned to do from the start and what I told the coach. Overall I felt really good and was on the right track; I was on the verge of making my comeback. I still need one or two competitive games to get back to full fitness so that I can get my confidence back again, which is very important.
DFB.de: Are there things that you have learnt about yourself during this time? Things that could help you in the future?
Sané: Definitely. I’ve never had such a long injury before. It wasn’t an easy time for me but I learnt a lot of things, such as being patient. The body needs time after such an injury. There’s no point putting lots of pressure on yourself. I’ve also tried to stay positive about everything. It allowed me to spend more time with my family because they accompanied me during my rehabilitation in Innsbruck. I’ve also been able to use the last few weeks to work specifically on my body.
DFB.de: How much were the EUROs in your head during this time?
Sané: It was constantly in my head; I have to admit. Because I had set myself goals and I was really looking forward to it. I was also in regular contact with the national team coaches Joachim Löw und Oliver Bierhoff; they were both constantly updated about my progress in my rehabilitation. Oli also came to visit me in Manchester in February. We had a very good conversation. Even though I still wasn’t quite at 100% yet, I was determined to be back in time for the international friendlies against Spain and Italy. They would have been our last games before our training camp ahead of the tournament. I was desperate not to miss out.
DFB.de: Hand on heart: When you heard about the EUROs being postponed, did you maybe think that it might be the worst thing for you so that you can be back to your best in time for the tournament?
Sané: No, not at all! I think I would’ve been at 100% just in time for EURO 2020. I would’ve had two more months of match practice. In the end it might have even been an advantage to be fresh for the tournament, without having played 50 games throughout the season. But unfortunately there was no alternative. Of course the postponement is a shame. Still, I’m sure that the majority of fans are happy with the decision. A European Championships without any fans? That would have been unimaginable; it wouldn’t have been good for anyone. Knowing what we now know, it’s clear that a postponement was inevitable. I hope that everything will be fine again in the summer of 2021, that we will have full stadiums everywhere and that all fans can attend games without hesitation.
DFB.de: Your comeback has now been delayed again. What have you found most difficult during this time due to the Coronavirus?
Sané: Yes, as I said I was on the verge of making my comeback; I had been working towards that for many months. Nevertheless, I can still continue to do that and I know that there are much worse things. For example, being exposed to the virus. Now we can only wait for the situation to relax again. We all have to trust the experts and stay patient. So I’m preparing myself every day for a unknown date. With every injury, or preparation, you always have to set yourself a goal. But at the moment unfortunately all we can do it wait and see. Will it continue in May? Or in June? No one can answer that right now.
DFB.de: How are you finding living in Manchester and Great Britain at the moment?
Sané: Everything has been a bit delayed here in England. The measures that have been in place for a while in Germany are gradually starting to take hold here. Manchester, like the rest of the country, is standing still. The streets are completely empty. It’s a very strange atmosphere.
DFB.de: You still see your national teammate Ilkay Gündogan every two days. You live in the same building and train in the same gym. How’s that going at the moment?
Sané: That’s true, I get on very well with Ilkay. I often knock on his door, or he knocks on mine. Then we watch the Bundesliga together or just hang out. Unfortunately we can’t do that anymore at the moment. But we still see each other regularly in the gym, where we take turns completing our training plans given to us by the club. Luckily the gym in our building opens for us every two days. But then only Ilkay and I use it, no one else.
DFB.de: How are you keeping fit at the moment? What does your program consist of?
Sané: We were all given individual training plans by the club. I then do my own exercises in my house. Of course I know that it’s important for me in particular to maintain my fitness level due to my injury. If we were to return to the training ground soon, it would be bad if it then took me one or two weeks to get back to full fitness. I’ve also been working with a personal trainer from Germany for some time; that works really well on Skype.
DFB.de: You have supported the #WeKickCorona campaign, which was launched by your national teammates Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich. Why is this important to you?
Sané: Leon called me one afternoon and briefly explained the campaign to me. I thought it was a great idea and supported it straight away. It’s great to see that so many athletes have already joined the initiative. It helps people who have been directly affected by the crisis.
DFB.de: Do you think footballers in particular have a responsibility here?
Sané: In regards to the financial situation, footballers are probably finding it much easier. Lots of my colleagues have already got involved and have started some great projects. Especially in the current situation, we should take care of one another and be there for each other. No matter what profession you work in. I think that if you can help, then you should.
DFB.de: Do you believe that the season can be finished? And why would that be important?
Sané: You read something different every day and not even the experts agree on this, so it’s difficult for me to make an assessment. All I can say is that I really miss football and want to be back on the pitch as soon as possible. We have no choice but to trust the experts and to be ready for when we are told to start again. If it does continue then it will probably be behind closed doors. But that would also be fine. It’s important that we find solutions, without taking people’s health lightly. Purely from a sporting point of view, it would of course be the fairest thing to do if the season was still somehow finished.