Niklas Süle is part of the new-look national team. In an interview with DFB.de , the 23-year-old centre-back spoke about the development of the team, his young teammates, his biggest idols and a holiday by the sea.
DFB.de: Mr Süle, you’ve already training with the national team but without coach, Joachim Löw. What’s it like?
Niklas Süle: It’s the same as always: Very focussed but with the right amount of calmness. Of course it’s a bit strange that the coach isn’t here but Marcus Sorg, the assistant coach, is a good substitute and he’s doing an amazing job. We’re working like normal on our game and want to take the next step with the team.
DFB.de: How has Marcus Sorg been?
Süle: I know him already from the U19 national team when he was my coach. He’s very composed and very clear. He’s been in the DFB circle for a long time and knows all the players. I knew before he came in that he would do a good job.
DFB.de: The national team has gotten younger recently and you are one of the players that has been brought in by Joachim Löw. He said: “Niklas is now responsible. We are expecting even more from him. He now has to be the organiser at the back and lead by example.” Do you see that as a compliment or as a criticism?
Süle: I take it as an incentive. I want to take hold of our situation and improve it. I want to take on more responsibility in my position. In comparison to my other young teammates, I already have quite a lot of international experience. That obviously helps for the big games with the national team. Every player has to do their part in order for us to be successful. I’m very optimistic about everything having seen how the team is at the moment.
DFB.de: When you were asked about your role models when you were younger, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels cropped up a lot. Is it strange for you to play with these players at your club and then be their successors in the national team?
Süle: I purposefully chose to move to FC Bayern as I knew I wanted to go there. I see it as a privilege that I have been able to learn so much from Mats, Jerome and Thomas Müller as well – be it in training, in a game or off the pitch. All of them have helped me to achieve things and become a better defender. When I made my international debut on 31st of August 2016 in the 2-0 against Finland there were a lot of players on the pitch that aren’t there anymore. On one hand it’s slightly weird but on the other hand it’s part of the normal development of a team. I have very good relationships with Mats, Jerome and Thomas. We all play together at club level and so I’m always happy to see them and am always ready to learn from those top players.
DFB.de: The re-building of the team is a big chance for young players who are now in the team and for them to take on more responsibility. What do you make of the team on their journey right now?
Süle: We’re heading in a good direction, but one or two good games don’t really do anything for us. We want to make that clear and get on the right track. You therefore can’t forget that there aren’t many players in our team anymore that have more than 40 or 50 caps to their name. I’ve now played 19 times for Germany and so I stand in the middle really. It could be the case that there is a small step back. That’s what happens when you’re trying to develop. We still have a year until the 2020 Euros. During that time we have to develop and take the next step up – be that at our clubs or in the national team. Then I’m certain we will be back stronger. It is only our second time together with this team. The World Cup winners of 2014 played together for several years until they managed to win that trophy. Of course we’re also aiming for our own era like that, but it takes time. The potential is definitely there.
DFB.de: The DFB has the motto, “Back on top of the world”. What does it take to get back to that point as quickly as possible?
Süle: It’s very tricky to say. We play for different clubs, some know each other from their own teams or through the league or just from the national youth teams. It’s something completely foreign when you just put 11 men from different clubs on the pitch together. You have to play together and develop together. It’s our second time together as a team.
DFB.de: On Wednesday the team completed a public training session in Aachen – more than 20,000 fans came. What did you make of that?
Süle: It was lots of fun and was a really nice experience. It’s always a positive when the people support us as we can build a togetherness and then hopefully take the next step towards being successful.
DFB.de: You’re pretty good with small white balls as well, meaning golf and table tennis balls. As a youngster you were district champion for Hessen. Are there any players in the national team that are on your level?
Süle: Now I can officially say it: Jo Kimmich thinks he’s better than me at table tennis but I clearly have more quality (laughs) . We certainly have one or two undiscovered talents in the team, so I’m sure there will be many exciting upcoming match-ups.
DFB.de: Who do you spend the most time with when you’re away with the national team?
Süle: I’ve known many of the players for a number of years, mainly from the national youth teams. It’s just great that so many of us have gone on to have great success and that we can come back and see each other in the senior team now. You obviously then want to have a successful end product as a team. Judging by the atmosphere we have a really cool team here, so hopefully it carries on like this.
DFB.de: Six months ago, you played with FC Bayern in Mainz. Your run up the pitch went viral on the internet. What do you remember of it?
Süle: It was a super game, we were 2-1 up and Mainz put us under a lot of pressure. I got the ball in the holding midfielder position and played it forward to Robert Lewandowski. He took the ball into space and I made the run forward as there was space opening up in front of me. I lacked a bit of composure in front of goal though. In the end, we held the 2-1 lead and took the three points so everything worked out well in the end.
DFB.de: Against both Belarus and Estonia, you will come up against strikers that you have not played against. What difference does this make to your preparations for the game?
Süle: I believe that we will do well, as long as we are fully focussed on playing our game. It doesn’t matter whether the players play in a different country or not. Of course, we still have to study their strengths and see how they play. However, if we bring our A game to the field, then we will be successful.
DFB.de: After the game against Estonia on Tuesday, you will finally have your holiday. Where and how will you recharge?
Süle: I will spend my time in the Mediterranean. South France, Crete and Mallorca are on my list. We will see what happens.