Germany and Hoffenheim defender David Raum has had an outstanding 18 months, resulting in a new contract less than a season into his spell in Sinsheim, and he's firmly focused on ending the 2021/22 campaign with a UEFA Champions League spot in the bag.
The 23-year-old earned promotion to the top flight with Greuther Fürth, secured a move to Hoffenheim and has gone on to become a full Germany international as TSG compete for a top-four place. In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Raum reveals how he's living the dream, and has the tattoo to prove it...
bundesliga.com: "Living the dream!" is not just a motto, it's now inked on your skin. Why did you get this tattoo during the Christmas break?
David Raum: "When I was asked about it after the game, I said that I always mentioned in interviews towards the end of last year that I was living my dream and the dream of every boy who plays football in Germany. Everything seemed to happen within one year for me, so during the winter break I thought it would be fitting to put it on my body, too. I had a chat with the team manager before the game and he sometimes thinks up goal celebrations for the players. He suggested to me that I should pull my shirt down to reveal my tattoo. I managed to score a goal in that very game and I remembered to do the celebration, so that was a nice moment. It was cool to show off my tattoo and it was a good opportunity for me to show that I'm happy to be able to fulfil this dream."
bundesliga.com: Did you expect such a huge response when you showed the tattoo to the entire footballing world?
Raum: "No, definitely not. I didn’t think about it at all at the time and I also didn’t think it would be such a big topic after the game. It was great that the cameramen were able to capture the moment so well and there were one or two articles written about it as well. I think 11 Freunde wrote an article with 10 suggestions of what else could be written on my chest, and it’s quite funny how much attention the whole thing has got. It’s nice that it was so accepted and seen so positively."
bundesliga.com: Last year was one big event after the other for you. Promotion to the Bundesliga with Fürth, then a move to Hoffenheim for the next step in your career, then European U21 champion, then participation in the Olympic Games in Tokyo, and then becoming a senior international. Have you processed all of this yet?
Raum: "I was asked time and again last year whether I was able to take on board everything that had happened. I simply rode the wave last season when I was playing from game to game and I was just living the dream from day to day. This meant that I hardly had any time to process it all. In the winter break, I had a bit of time to reflect and to chat to my family and friends back home. It was only then that I realised how much I had achieved and I'm incredibly proud of it. It’s been great and I’m just trying to build on it this year."
bundesliga.com: The good times just seem to continue. Hoffenheim are fourth and in a Champions League spot. Is that already a dream come true?
Raum: "I think it’s too early to say that the good times keep on rolling. We need to put in a similar performance at the weekend, but it was still a good start because starting well after the winter break is exactly what we wanted to do. We didn’t see it as a break, but rather as a small period of time to prepare ourselves. We were engaged from the very beginning of the game against Augsburg, and that was exactly our aim. We want to now build on this and continue to pick up wins."
bundesliga.com: What's the secret to Hoffenheim's success so far this season?
Raum: "Even when things weren’t going so well, I always said in interviews that we had amazing potential in the team. We have a great depth of quality in the squad and we can bring players off the bench whom others teams would be happy to have in their starting line-up. We have 11 players on the pitch who give their all and we have players coming off the bench who show just as much commitment and bring just as much quality, if not even more. In this respect, we're a highly functioning team, even though we took a bit of time to show our quality on the pitch. We're now managing to do this very well and are supporting each other so that we can all fulfil our potential. We're a great squad and we just want to keep building on this and keep fulfilling our potential on the pitch. This is exactly how we want to finish off the season."
bundesliga.com: Is the phrase “Champions League” taboo in Hoffenheim?
Raum: "It's not taboo because you can always talk or dream about things like that. I think it’s still far too early to talk about these things or to talk about our ambitions in the media. We're a team that have got stronger over the course of the season and we will just keep building on this to see what will happen in the end."
Watch: Raum scored one and assisted another in Hoffenheim's 3-1 win over Augsburg
bundesliga.com: Hoffenheim have had 16 different goalscorers so far. An unusually high number for 39 goals in the season. How positive is that?
Raum: "It’s never a bad thing if everyone in the team can score goals. With us, you can see that it is not so important for one player to keep scoring because we create chances in such a way that everybody could score. This is the secret to our team and I'm happy if someone else scores and they're happy for me if I score. This is how it should be in a cohesive team, and we don’t just have one star player who has to do everything by himself. We're a tight squad, so it doesn’t matter who scores the goals as long as we win."
bundesliga.com: In the past, Andrej Kramaric often scored a large number of goals for Hoffenheim. After him, the rest of the goals were distributed on a lower level. Now, all of a sudden, there is this enormous distribution. How can that be explained?
Raum: "I can’t put a finger on it in terms of our game philosophy. We're simply a functional team and everyone takes on the responsibility of scoring goals if this means we win more games. If you play a team sport, you have to sacrifice yourself for the team and so it doesn’t matter who scores the goals. We want to win games and we are always happy for one another, which is how it should be in a successful, top team."
bundesliga.com: Outside of Germany, hardly anyone knows where Hoffenheim is. Do you think the club goes a little unnoticed because of its tranquil village setting?
Raum: "I haven’t really asked myself that question. I was impressed with the club and the environment here. We have the best conditions here that I have seen in the whole of Germany and I don’t think many clubs can keep up with that. The most important thing is for the players to be supported in the best possible way so that they can improve as much as possible. This is what we are managing to do and the performance on the pitch is the most important thing. We're well supported here and the whole environment fits because we have a great team around the team. It's been working well for many years and a lot of people have been here for a while, which contributes to good performances on the pitch."
bundesliga.com: How important is it to keep continuity under Sebastian Hoeneß?
Raum: "For us players, it's nice to have a coach for a longer period of time. You grow close to the coach and get to know each other better. It's important for a club to believe in the coach because a coach also needs to have the opportunity to develop with the team. I think this has worked very well here and we now have a great match philosophy. The idea was there from the start, but a team needs to be able to grow into this and I think this has worked very well. I think everything happened in the right way and we're very happy. The team gets on well with the coaching team and they're doing a great job with us because otherwise we would not be winning so many games."
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