Newsletter

Ilkay Gündoğan: “We don’t look at each other enough”

Contents

Read content on one page

Page 1 — “We don’t look at each other enough”

Page 2 — “I’m really still looking forward to this European Championship” Page 3 — “Not all eleven players can make the difference” Page 4 — “I’m not Philipp Lahm – and that’s completely okay”

While it is snowing in Germany, temperatures in Barcelona rise to over 20 degrees. The captain of the German national team has been living here since late summer this year. In the home game against FC Porto we always see Ilkay Gündoğan in the center of the action in the Olympic Stadium. In the second half he prevented the equalizer and secured his team a 2-1 victory. FC Barcelona moves into the knockout round of the Champions League after being eliminated twice in the preliminary round. A day later, Pep Guardiola called to congratulate the 33-year-old. The two led Manchester City to the Champions League title last year. Two days after the win against Porto we meet Ilkay Gündoğan at the training center for an interview.

THE TIME: Mr. Gündoğan, you have been here for four months now. Have you already found your place in the team?

Ilkay Gundogan: Barcelona is a completely new challenge. After seven years at Manchester City with Pep, I had developed a certain self-image as captain last year, enough self-confidence. I thought it was important to get out of my comfort zone again. Not just football-wise, but also personally. I like starting over, even though it can be hard.

TIME: Is that it for you now: hard, challenging?

Gundogan: New country, new language, new culture, new club, of course it’s challenging. People only see sports, but there is also social life. Just a few weeks ago my family and I found a home. I love routine, and when I don’t have a place to retreat to, a lot of things are difficult for me.

TIME: Are you learning Spanish or Catalan?

Gundogan: Not yet, it will start within the next two weeks. It’s enough for small talk. My wife has the advantage of knowing Italian. This is similar to Spanish. As a professional footballer, you should try to learn the language of your new home.

TIME: As a football nomad, can and do you actually want to immerse yourself in the culture of the country in which you currently live?

Gundogan: It would be stupid not to try. I was operated on twice in Barcelona and know the city a bit. But my wife and I have only had dinner as a couple three times so far. Food is also part of the culture. We wish we had explored more already. We have an eight-month-old baby, the little one takes up the rest of our time.

This article comes from ZEIT No. 52/2023. You can read the entire issue here from 5 p.m.

TIME: What can you do to help Barça regain its old successes?

Gundogan: Things are going okay in terms of sport, but we still have to improve in many areas. That’s why I was brought in. The trainer said I should pass on my experiences. Even if it doesn’t work perfectly because of the language barrier, I can trigger certain things among my young colleagues just with my appearance. FC Barcelona trusts the players from its own training center “La Masia”. There are also individual footballers from abroad like me who ensure the right mix and the necessary stability. Recently the club has lost personalities, such as Lionel Messi, who shaped an era. Success won’t happen overnight, it’s a process – always in cooperation with the fans.

TIME: Do you mean: Success and passion are mutually dependent?

Gundogan: Athletic performance comes first. When it’s good, when the fans notice that there’s a team on the pitch that wants to, it’s fun to watch. Then a special atmosphere is created. This in turn gets back to us players, and that gives us another boost.

TIME: The German national team has not broadcast any of this for years. Fans are looking forward to the home European Championship in 2024 with concern. The expectation is nothing less than a repeat of the summer fairy tale of 2006. Do you still remember back then?

While it is snowing in Germany, temperatures in Barcelona rise to over 20 degrees. The captain of the German national team has been living here since late summer this year. In the home game against FC Porto we always see Ilkay Gündoğan in the center of the action in the Olympic Stadium. In the second half he prevented the equalizer and secured his team a 2-1 victory. FC Barcelona moves into the knockout round of the Champions League after being eliminated twice in the preliminary round. A day later, Pep Guardiola called to congratulate the 33-year-old. The two led Manchester City to the Champions League title last year. Two days after the win against Porto we meet Ilkay Gündoğan at the training center for an interview.

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Trending