Schalke’s second choice ‘keeper is technically no new addition to Stefan Kuntz’s Germany U21 set-up. In an interview with DFB.de, Markus Schubert speaks about following in Alexander Nübel's footsteps and Germany’s first EURO qualifier in Wrexham on Tuesday (20:00 CEST).
DFB.de: Mr Schubert, the U21s have arrived in England for the European qualifier against Wales on Tuesday. Are you well prepared for the first competitive game?
Markus Schubert: I think so. This is what it’s all about for us as players and as a team: games where there is something to be won. Our aim is to qualify for the 2021 EUROS – this is the first step.
DFB.de: The new team has only been together for a week. How smoothly is everything running?
Schubert: I think everything’s working well, off the pitch as well, naturally. On the pitch, there are still one or two things, maybe even three or four things we need to agree on. But that’s the same even for teams that have played together for a longer time. We’re trying to work on things at training in a way that we can implement them in games, in order to be successful.
DFB.de: In the goalkeeping position there’s an interesting parallel between you and the former U21 keeper Alexander Nübel. At the start of the last EURO qualifying campaign, Nübel was second choice at Schalke, as you are now. Now that you are teammates, do you speak to him about the U21s?
Schubert: Yes, absolutely. He asked me right after the Greece game how it went as well. We have a very good relationship and obviously I’m well aware of the path Alex has taken with the U21s. I would like to perform and develop here how he did – it worked perfectly for him.
DFB.de: How have settled in on the whole at your new club?
Schubert: Very well. Everyone was very welcoming, especially the goalkeeping group, which shouldn’t be taken for granted. I felt at home right away, the facilities are class. I have nothing but positives to talk about so far and I certainly cannot complain.
DFB.de: You are now one of three players in the U21s who were at the European championship this summer; you are one of the “established” players. Do you see yourself as a leader within the team?
Schubert: I think every player needs to take on responsibility – whether that’s vocally or not. Obviously I try to help the other lads who haven’t been with us that long. Lots of them actually know one another from the Germany youth teams, so it all works well. You can’t pin responsibility on individuals, you need multiple, or even every player to take responsibility on the pitch.
DFB.de: What are your personal targets for the next two years with the U21s?
Schubert: I want to play as many games as possible and obviously be as successful as possible: We want to qualify for the 2021 European championship, then there’s another major event around the corner in the Summer Olympics, where I would obviously also like to take part. Above all else though, we want to enjoy ourselves as a team and build something special – just like the last group did. It’s always the best feeling when you look forward to the international breaks and seeing the staff here. I think these will be two fantastic years.