German champion, Germany international, European championship runner up: Christian Wörns has a lot of experience to offer the U18 national team. Having worked as DFB youth team coach since 2019, he has drawn some positive conclusions. In an interview with DFB.de, the 47-year-old coach spoke about his work with the latest group of youngsters and gave his thoughts on the Champions League clash between his two former clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Paris St.-Germain.
DFB.de: Mr. Wörns, you’ve been U18s coach for more than half a year now. What are your overall thoughts so far?
Christian Wörns: It’s been positive. My first task was getting to know the 2002 year group. I’d already started to give myself an overview of the pool of players last season when they were with the U17s. We’ve got good players with real potential in our ranks, but we still have work to do with them. During the first half of the season we rested the players who had been at the EUROS a little. This gave those players a little further down the list a chance to prove themselves. We took everything we saw on board and when we play against France in March we will try to use the players we believe to be the best of the year group.
DFB.de: What would you like to work on with your team?
Wörns: It starts with the basics: Mentality, attitude, technique. If we’re not up to scratch in those areas we will quickly have problems elsewhere. That’s why I expect the lads to want to play at their best – that desire has to come from within. They need to be prepared, both in the national team selection and at their clubs, to invest everything into furthering their career. That’s the fundamental part of someday being a professional.
DFB.de: That sounds like the Christian Wörns we knew in his playing days. You were known for your mentality, you gained a lot of experience as a professional. How much of that can you bring into your work now?
Wörns: It’s not about me and my coaching staff demonstrating something to the lads. We want to lead them there, so that they can learn for themselves what it takes to be successful. We’re very pleased, therefore, that the team has established its own catalogue of psychological characteristics that are important to them. They don’t just blindly follow the coach’s words, but process them for their own development. All this provides a base for us to build on. The next step is all about the way in which we would like to play football. Positional play, opening up the game, pressing, creating chances – these are the topics that we will focus on first of all.
DFB.de: In order to then apply this in competitive games?
Wörns: Exactly. In March, we’re playing against France, in April against Austria and in May we play Belgium. These are games that you just look forward to as a footballer. We want to show that despite us still maturing as individuals and as a team, we’ve still got something to offer.
DFB.de: The Champions League games between BVB and PSG on the 18th February and 11th March promise plenty of excitement as well. You have played for both teams of course. Do you still follow them both?
Wörns: Yes, of course – especially in the Champions League. I’m rarely able to catch any of the Bundesliga games over a weekend since I’m usually watching the junior leagues, so I’m all the more excited to see Dortmund and PSG face off in the Champions League. It’s a top fixture between two big clubs. PSG have tremendous quality and outstanding individuals, but Dortmund have no reason to hide and they can set the tone playing at home first. I’m expecting a very interesting encounter, from a tactical perspective as well.
DFB.de: What are your fondest memories of your time at Dortmund and PSG?
Wörns: Especially with Dortmund I experienced a lot of highs and lows. I basically went through it all with them, from winning the Bundesliga to battling against relegation. It was always emotional, an unforgettable time. In Paris it was a mediocre year from a sporting perspective, but the experience of playing abroad was unbelievably beneficial to me. In terms of my personal development, it was an important step, especially with Paris being such an impressive city. Then there were the encounters with Marseille and Bordeaux – they had the kind of atmosphere that the Yellow Wall in Dortmund can produce.