Leroy Sane would do okay if dinosaurs returned. According to The Sun newspaper, the 21-year old could outrun a T-Rex. He was clocked running at 35.48 km/h in the Premier League. Rapid, a goal threat, that little bit of something special – that’s Leroy Sane. In a DFB.de interview with Thomas Hackbarth, the Manchester City player talks about World Cup opportunities and how important it is to stay relaxed ahead of that.
DFB.de: Leroy Sane, how is your nose?
Leroy Sane: All good, everything has healed well after the operation.
DFB.de: Some fans were angry you didn’t go to the Confederations Cup after breaking your nose.
Sane: That might be but I had had quite a few breathing problems for the year up to the tournament. The World Cup is next year. This summer was the right time to take a break. I was sorry not to be there because I always enjoy playing with my German team-mates, but it had to be done.
DFB.de: The operation itself…
Sane: …had to be done in England under a general anaesthetic. I feel a lot better breathing now and can recover a lot more quickly after a sprint.
DFB.de: The team also won the Confederations Cup in Russia without you. Did it not bother you at times that you had to sit at home during the competition?
Sane: It would’ve been a great chance to prove myself and play for my country. But it didn’t bother me, no. I was happy for the boys because they played so well throughout the whole tournament.
DFB.de: What do you think of your chances of being called up for the World Cup squad by Joachim Löw?
Sane: The quality within the national team is huge and many people are fighting for the same position. Lots of players also proved their worth during the Confederations Cup in the summer. That’s quite a positive thing for me. Every player has to be motivated to prove themselves even more during the games. You have to use the game time that you get.
DFB.de: Can you explain two quotes from coaches of yours?
Sane: I can try!
DFB.de: Jogi Löw says that you have “something extraordinary in your game”. What is that extraordinary thing you have in your locker?
Sane: (laughs) I don’t know exactly. For me it’s a bit different from my point of view. Everyone has their own taste, things they like and things they don’t.
DFB.de: Guardiola says that you are “getting better at the simple things”. What does he mean by that?
Sane: He wants me to play the easy balls, to not give away the ball cheaply and to concentrate for the full 90 minutes.
DFB.de: What has Guardiola been able to teach you?
Sane: So much, my positioning, my passing, my movement in space – Pep Guardiola has helped me in all of these areas and improved me as a player. I am well suited to the way he likes to play football, in that as attackers, we have to press aggressively after losing the ball. Whether with Norbert Elgert – my youth coach at Schalke – or later in the junior national sides, we’ve always been taught to press. These three coaches all like to play in a similar way – Elgert, Löw and Guardiola -, they want to have the ball, press high up the pitch and whenever possible to win back the ball in the opponent’s half. I can see a trend there that has been great for my development. If you win the ball higher up the pitch, you score goals more easily. There’s less of a distance to run. (laughs)
DFB.de: The summer and the pre-season with Manchester City wasn’t easy for you. Guardiola was quite critical. Now you’ve had a brilliant September, scoring in the league and the cup. What do you to get out of a bad spell of form?
Sane: I am just quite laid-back. I don’t think about it too much, I’m not the type of person to berate myself or constantly ponder about why it’s not going well for me at the time. I take care in those situations to do the simple things properly and to concentrate on my game. You need to take care the pressure doesn’t become too great when you’re a young player.
DFB.de: You’ve qualified now. Is it difficult to motivate yourself for the game against Azerbaijan?
Sane: No, because it’s always fun to play in front of your home fans. It’s an opportunity to show your quality to the head coach, to make your case for the World Cup. Everyone is taking the game seriously.
DFB.de: And you’ll score?
Sane: I’m going to try my best! (laughs)