Aged just 17 years and 159 days, Florian Wirtz became the youngest player to ever represent Germany U21s on Friday night in Moldova. Bayer Leverkusen’s attacker was also awarded with a gold Fritz Walter Medal for the U17s age group this year, which was presented to him by Ronny Zimmermann, the DFB’s vice-president for youth football, on Saturday. Wirtz spoke to DFB.de about what this award means to him, his U21s debut and his relationship with Kai Havertz.
DFB.de: Mr. Wirtz, you made your debut for Germany U21s last night. How did you find it?
Florian Wirtz: It was a normal international game for me and I didn’t treat it any differently to the previous games I had played for the other youth sides. I was simply excited to play football and focused on the game itself.
DFB.de: You became Germany U21s’ youngest ever player, breaking Julian Draxler’s record. Did you manage to put that out of your mind for the game?
Wirtz: I was able to put it into perspective. It’s obviously a real honour for me to break the record, especially when the previous holder is such a class player. It’s a nice thing and will help to motivate me achieve further goals. Nevertheless, I will keep both feet on the ground.
DFB.de: Did you receive lots of messages after your debut?
Wirtz: I got a lot of messages but I was only able to see them once we’d returned to Germany, so I’m still getting back to some people! I’ve obviously spoken to the most important people though.
DFB.de: The most important people? Who are they?
Wirtz: My parents, family and my best friends.
DFB.de: You won the gold Fritz Walter Medal at the U17s level this year and were presented with the medal today. Was that a special feeling?
Wirtz: It was definitely a nice feeling. I have really been looking forward to having it in my hands. Winning this medal was a long-term goal of mine. Getting this recognition means a lot to me.
DFB.de: Your former teammate Kai Havertz, who won a Fritz-Walter-Medal in 2018, congratulated you via social media recently. What’s your relationship like with him? Do you look up to him?
Wirtz: Definitely. When I joined Leverkusen’s first team, I learnt a lot from him. Our relationship was really good from the start – he was happy to support and help me.
DFB.de: Are you in contact with him at the moment?
Wirtz: Not so much, because he’s been very busy in recent weeks after his move to Chelsea. I watch him play when I can and I think when he’s settled in in London we’ll become closer again.
DFB.de: Do you have any role models? Sporting ones and non-sporting ones?
Wirtz: Football wise, it’s players who have a similar style to me: João Félix and Kai Havertz. My parents are definitely my non-sporting role models.
DFB.de: How have your parents supported you during your career?
Wirtz: My parents have always kept both my feet on the ground. They know how to put the things I have experienced into perspective, so they have had a big impact on my career so far. I’m thankful that they both supported me over the past few years.
DFB.de: You mainly played in the centre against Moldova on Friday night. Where do you think your best position is?
Wirtz: I think in the centre. I can play the final pass or dribble well in the final third. I also know that I have plenty of things to work on. For example, I have a good shot, but I don’t get enough chances to shoot in games, so I need to work on that.
DFB.de: You are four or five years younger than your teammates in the U21s. What can you learn from them?
Wirtz: I get on well with the lads and we have a lot of fun together – which is a real positive for me. My teammates are obviously a bit more experienced than me and are a bit more mature. I therefore want to learn from them and pick up the odd thing, but ultimately I want to put my own stamp on the team.
DFB.de: What are your thoughts ahead of the game against Bosnia and Herzegovina?
Wirtz: I’m looking forward to the game and I’m hoping to play. We obviously want to win too, which is key if we want to qualify for the EUROs.