The pair played together for RB Leipzig. One, Yusuff Poulsen, is still there whilst the other, Davie Selke, now wears the blue and white of Hertha BSC. Selke speaks about his old teammate, who for him was more than just a fellow Leipzig player, and has just enjoyed the best season of his career.
I joined RB Leipzig in 2015, in the second division. Yussi had been there since 2013, so we were actually in competition against each other as attackers. But Yussi was always so open from the start and we got on really well. We played together for a little bit, but then the head coach Ralf Rangnick switched to one striker and I was in the starting XI, with Yussi on the bench.
One memory really sticks out from this time. It is a fantastic example of how special Yussi is as a person. In November 2015, we beat Arminia Bielefeld 1-0 and I scored the goal. Yussi celebrated with me and came up to me after the game and said, “I’m really happy for you.” In my entire professional career I still haven’t experienced something like that again. At first, I thought he was trying to wind me up, but he really meant it. You have to put yourself in his shoes: you’re not playing, and the guy who’s in your place scores and you still react that way.
The way Yussi acted in the first few months is one of the biggest reasons why a really good friendship developed between us. For me, it was very impressive and I learnt a lot from him. Earlier in my career, I was very dogged and determined. I am still the latter now. But now I look at a lot more things outside of the pitch.
We were always roommates for away games and training caps and were simply on the same wavelength, and we’re both competitive. We were playing games against each other all the time. Pool, games on our phones, everything. I must admit that he won most of the time! I think it might have been because he knew all the games, whereas I had to get used to them first. Also, he gave me advice on which TV series to watch – I think he has watched everything on Netflix at least twice! But we didn’t really watch many things together, he used to watch the originals in English and I would watch the German versions.
I also always remember how much Yussi liked sleeping. For someone who spends so much time in bed, he was surprisingly hardly ever late. He’s going to be a father soon, so I think his sleeping habits might change a little bit!
In the winter break of the 2015/16 season, everything changed in a footballing sense. Even though I had scored seven goals, I was suddenly out of the starting XI – I still don’t know today what the reason behind it was. Yussi became the starter. It was difficult for me but my experience in the first half of the season really helped me to accept it and support him. From then on, I was the one who was celebrating his goals. We got promoted and Yussi remained the main striker, and I was coming off the bench.
In 2017 I moved to Hertha BSC. Especially before playing against each other, we’re in contact. The first time we played each other, I scored twice and we won 3-2. Leipzig won the three after that. The most recent one finished 5-0 and Yussi scored a hat trick. After the game I didn’t want to talk to anybody. That’s another way that we are similar – we both hate to lose. Later that evening, I messaged him. He finished his second goal with the inside of the foot, which he likes to do. But the third one – a chip. Crazy. I’ve never seen him do that before.
He is determined, has worked hard and has always developed, and now he has a goal tally that shows it. His stamina is remarkable, he can run all day. To warm up, he does 40 metre sprints. If I did that, I’d already be blowing before kick off!
I would have liked to watch the DFB-Pokal final at the Olympiastadion, but we’re on a USA tour with Hertha. I’ll still watch the game. I think Bayern are always the favourites when they’re playing against another German team, but Leipzig can frustrate them. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Yussi and would be so pleased for him to lift the trophy.###more###