Mathys Tel (r.) has gone up a level since Harry Kane's (l.) move to Bayern Munich. - © Getty Images
Mathys Tel (r.) has gone up a level since Harry Kane's (l.) move to Bayern Munich. - © Getty Images

"Harry Kane is a role model for me" - Bayern Munich teenager Mathys Tel


With six goals in 15 competitive appearances so far in 2023/24, Mathys Tel is making all the right noises in his second season at Bayern Munich. caught up with the 18-year-old French forward to discuss his progress, what he is learning from Harry Kane, the upcoming Klassiker with Borussia Dortmund and more...

Click here for all things Der Klassiker! You have been scoring lots of goals this season, despite not starting many matches. How do you explain your superb efficiency in front of goal?

Mathys Tel: "I would say it's down to the energy that I bring to the team. At the moment, my role is coming into the game and doing as much as I can for my team. I'm pleased to have been able to contribute with goals and with key passes. I'm very happy. I hope it continues." It’s been a good start to the season for you, hasn’t it? 

Tel: "It’s been a good start, but there's a long way to go until the end of the season. I will continue to work hard so that I can remain on this trajectory." You’ve almost scored as many goals this season as you did across all of last season. How instructive was last season for you?

Tel: "It was a rewarding season for me because I learned a lot. Munich was new to me, as was the Bundesliga. So it was a year of adaptation. And this year is an opportunity to show what is expected of me. Last year was formative for me, and now I think I'm ready."

Watch: All of Mathys Tel's Bundesliga goals so far And what exactly did you take away from last season?

Tel: "I learned how the team plays on the pitch and what is expected of me both mentally and physically. This was supported by many sessions during the break to ensure that I was well prepared for the new season. All of these things have contributed to me being in a place where I can show what I can do out on the pitch." You often come off the bench to replace Kingsley Coman, Harry Kane or Leroy Sané at Bayern. But what’s your favourite position on the field? 

Tel: "I'm somewhere between a number nine and a left winger. I can also play on the right, but I'm more comfortable as a striker and on the left." Is it difficult to play on the right wing?

Tel: "Not difficult, but I would say I'm more comfortable on the left compared to the right. I'm right footed, so it’s harder for me to cut inside from the right." Head coach Thomas Tuchel has been full of praise for your performances. How would you describe his way of coaching?

Tel: "He's very precise as a coach. He really pays close attention to the details, both in an attacking and defensive sense. He's very precise in how we run and how we move. This is a style of coaching that I really like because the details are extremely important. You can't underestimate the details. He is a top, top coach, and I have learned a lot from him." How would you describe his way of coaching? A lot of players tell us that he’s very detail-oriented.

Tel: "Not a lot. But it's true that he's very particular on that. Sometimes he can be very close to the details and other times high level. It's a positive thing for the team because it allows us to do much better in terms of our performance." He lived in France. Does he speak French to you? 

Tel: "Yes, sometimes we speak together in French. But he prefers to speak to me in German, as that way I learn German."

Like Kane (l.), Bayern head coach Thomas Tuchel (r.) has made a real impression on Tel (c.). - Imago What are the objectives for the season?

Tel: "The plan with the team is clear. We know what we need to do. We need to perform as well as we can. We have a lot of games to come. We need to fully focused, be that in matches or in training. We're winning a lot of games at the moment because each player is aware of what they need to do. It's only a positive thing." What is the plan for you personally?

Tel: "My plan is to keep going in the same way. I need to continue helping my team in every way I can. When the starting XI get tired, it's my job to enter the pitch and bring new energy. The plan for me is clear. I'm also working hard to secure my place in the starting eleven." What are your strengths?

Tel: "My speed, my shot and my dribbling." What do you still need to work on?

Tel: "I think I need to work on my spatial awareness. So looking before receiving the ball and working out where the space is before giving the ball. Often I try to do things too quickly. So I would say looking before I receive the ball and taking my time." Thomas Müller recalled Arjen Robben when describing your winning goal in the Copenhagen match. What do you think when you hear such comparisons from fellow players?

Tel: "It makes me happy to hear that. Everyone knows Arjen Robben. He was a very big player. So it makes me happy that he has compared me to Arjen Robben. But it also shows that I still have work to do. I'm doing certain things well but there's lots I can still work on. In some moments I should pass the ball earlier, but I don't. So those are things I can work on in order to help my teammates where required." Do you know Arjen Robben?

Tel: "I watched him a lot when he was playing for the Netherlands and for Bayern. He would always cut in on his left and shoot." But haven't you met him yet?

Tel: "I saw him last year, yes. I wasn't expecting it. I arrived for training and I saw him. It made me very happy."

Tel heads into Der Klassiker with three goals - all from the bench - in nine Bundesliga appearances this season. - IMAGO/Bildbyran Harry Kane joined Bayern in the summer. What can you learn from him?

Tel: "He's a great striker. He has shown that across his career. I'm a striker too, so he's a role model for me. It's important to have people to learn from technically and in terms of finishing. Often I don't even have to ask him. He just comes over to me and tells me: 'Mathys, you can do that, or that'. He's a role model to me, and he is helping me a lot." How much does Kane help you?

Tel: "A lot. He helps me a lot on the pitch and off the pitch. He will often give me advice on what I could do differently. He will tell me: 'That could have gone better had you done that'. He pays close attention to the little details and he's looking to help me in any way he can. He's supporting me a great deal." What makes Kane special?

Tel: "I would say his mentality. He is very strong mentally. He's very calm. That's what I like most about him." The game against one of your biggest rivals in the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund, is coming up. Do you know the significance of this game in German football?

Tel: "I've been watching Bayern for a long time, since I was little. And each time Borussia Dortmund face Bayern, it's always like this. I like the fixture a lot because it's always very competitive and each player gives their all. And the strongest team prevails. I like this game a lot." How do you prepare mentally for these important matches?

Tel: "I will prepare just like any other game. I treat them all the same. It's a different level of intensity, but I treat it like any other game. I have to be ready in every single game. My team will be ready, too. We will do whatever is required to ensure we win the match." After the dramatic final matchday of last season, does Der Klassiker carry even more emotion and significance this year?

Tel: "Yes, a lot more emotion. We know it won't be easy. We've been able to answer every challenge we have faced so far. And our game plan is clear this time - I think we will do what we need to." And it will also be more emotional for Dortmund, right?

Tel: "They're a different club. I don't know the club that well. I hope they're ready because we certainly will be. And we'll do whatever it takes."

Vote: Who will win Der Klassiker? The Bundesliga is known for its passionate fans. How does the atmosphere in the stadium influence your performance?

Tel: "It gives us a lot of energy and helps us a lot out on the pitch. The fans applaud us, they shout for us, they sing for us. It helps us a lot. Personally, when I'm on the ball and I hear them shout, 'Mathys, go, go!' it's amazing. It helps me a lot." And there is already a special connection between you and the Bayern fans, right?

Tel: "Yes, there's a great connection. Because I enjoy applauding the fans after the game and giving away my shirt. I know they deserve a reward for the support they give me. So I'm very happy to have this connection, and I hope it continues." You always wear a bandage on your right hand. Why is that?

Tel: "When I was younger, I picked up a small injury here. I started playing with a bandage and performed very well. So since then, I've decided to keep it as I was only performing well. It brings me luck." There are a lot of players who do that, right?

Tel: "Yes, I have seen a few. I thought I was the only one, but though the years I've seen different players do the same thing. It's not for everyone." Does the colour of the bandage matter?

Tel: "No, it doesn't matter. As long as I know that there is something here when I'm playing, it's all good. And if not, I won't play well." How and when did you start playing football?

Tel: "I started at the age of five or six at Villiers-le-Bel. That was my first club, and I joined them at the age of five or six." Tell us a bit more about Villiers-le-Bel...

Tel: "It's the city I grew up in. It's still a very special place for me. I often go back there now to visit my friends and other people from the town. It does me a lot of good to go back and remind myself where I have come from. I only have positive memories of my time there, and I'm very proud of that town." What about the Villiers-le-Bel football club?

Tel: "The club is excellent as well. I was able to really progress mentally as a player there. I also developed this strong ambition to achieve as much as I could from my career. It's really a great club. They deserve to be at the top." Do you see the people from your hometown?

Tel: "Yes, often. We call each other as well to hear how things are going there and how things are going here, too. It's all very positive, and I'm very happy to be able to watch my team now and again." When you were young, you wanted to become a vet?

Tel: "Yes, it's true. When I was younger, my mother used to tell me that I needed to have a plan B in case football didn't work out. So I thought about what I could do, and I always liked animals. I thought why not become a vet as a plan B? I know it's a lot of years of studying, but I would love to be a vet." Do you have a favourite animal?

Tel: "Dogs, lions, gorillas - I like animals a lot." But your plan A was always football?

Tel: "Yes, always football. When I left school, I played football. When I was at school, I played football. After school with my friends. I was always thinking about football." Who were your biggest mentors on your way to professional football?

Tel: "Today, [Cristiano] Ronaldo and [Lionel] Messi are the best because of the careers that they have both had. But when I was younger, my uncles used to talk to me about [Nicolas] Anelka and Thierry Henry. I was able to watch their highlights on YouTube. I watched those guys a lot and really appreciated what they brought to the pitch. Thierry Henry and Anelka both. I would choose Thierry Henry." Was there a coach who particularly influenced you?

Tel: "Eric. He was my first-ever coach at the age of six. He has followed my progress until today, and is still part of my life. He often sends me messages after games to say: 'Mathys, you could have done better in this situation' or 'you shouldn’t do that' etc. He means a lot to me and has been very invested in my progression as a player. I appreciate his support a lot." What role do your parents play in your life and how much did they support you on your way to becoming a professional footballer?

Tel: "My parents were always there for me. They always took me to training. Often my father would come home from work exhausted, but he would ensure that I made it to training. Sometimes my mum would skip work in order to take me to football. It wasn't easy for them, but they always put me first. They worked extremely hard for me and I owe them a lot. Today I am at Bayern. I wouldn't be here without them. They helped me a lot." You played a handful of games in Ligue 1 with Rennes and now you are playing in the Bundesliga with Bayern. Can you explain the differences between the two leagues?

Tel: "I would say the biggest difference is cultural. The league in France is completely different from the league in Germany. Each league is different and has its own feel. The atmosphere is different."

Tel made seven Ligue 1 appearances for Rennes, before moving to Bayern in summer 2022. - JB Autissier via images/PanoramiC There are a lot of very well-known French players in Munich. If you had to choose one favourite French player from Bayern, which one would it be?

Tel: "All of them. I speak to all of the French speakers. We spend a lot of time together away from football. We all get on very well." And in the past? Who is your favourite?

Tel: "Benji Pavard was here. We spent a lot of good time together and enjoyed ourselves. It's been great to spend these moments with them." There are also much older players like Franck Ribéry. Do you know each other?

Tel: "I met him during a training session. He watched one of our training sessions. And after training, I had a quick chat with him. He asked me if everything was going well and told me that I could always call him if I needed anything. But otherwise I have not spent that much time with Franck Ribéry." Do you have any idols?

Tel: "Not really. Like I said, I really look up to Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry." Have you ever spoken to Thierry Henry about how he is your idol?

Tel: "No, I haven't told him. But he is my coach at the moment for the France youth team. He had an incredible career and has helped me a lot to develop. We all know what he has achieved. He has given me a lot of advice in terms of my attacking game. I'm very happy to be able to work with him." Didier Deschamps has already praised you. How does it feel to receive recognition from a football great like him?

Tel: "It makes me very happy. It makes me happy to hear that my performances are being noticed by the senior national team. I need to remain patient and keep performing. I will earn my call-up by performing well for Bayern. I will remain patient and we'll see what the future brings."