In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Germany international Florian Wirtz says the current Bayer Leverkusen squad has enough quality to win titles and reveals his pride in playing for Die Mannschaft.
Florian Wirtz: "My switch to Leverkusen in the U17’s was solely my decision because I saw a better prospects for myself in Leverkusen - and it worked out that way too. I had a good coach and great players that challenged me and made me into a better player. They still do that, and that's why I'm happy to have made this step. In hindsight, it was an uncomfortable decision, understandably. I think with time, I now feel very, very comfortable here at Leverkusen. I have many reasons for this because our team is simply top. That's why I'm very happy here."
Watch: The best of Florian Wirtz
bundesliga.com: Your father said that right after the first training session that you told him you were able to compete in Leverkusen. What did you mean by that?
Wirtz: "After telling my father that I was able to keep up after the initial training, I thought that I was able to assert myself in training due to my footballing quality. I was able to connect and wasn’t falling away from the group even though I was significantly younger. That pleased me because I'd never trained with a Bundesliga team before. That's why I proudly told my father. They were happy as well. They couldn't believe it at first because they were not accustomed to how things are playing for a Bundesliga team. As soon as they were able to watch, they started believing it, I think."
bundesliga.com: What can you still achieve with Leverkusen this season?
Wirtz: "2022 is going really well for us. We are playing really well as a team. We'll see what comes of it. We're aiming to get into the Champions League. That should be our target – to continue this way until the last matchday and achieve qualification."
bundesliga.com: Can you win titles with this team?
Wirtz: "Yes, because we have a team with so much quality. We have a lot of young players in the team, which is a strength because we have a lot of energy on the pitch, a lot of pace. That's why we're can dream about winning trophies with this team. We don't know what will unfold, but the potential is definitely there."
Watch: Leverkusen under the tactical microscope
bundesliga.com: How much do you enjoy playing for Germany?
Wirtz: "I enjoy playing for Germany a lot. I'm very proud to wear the German jersey. It's something I've been dreaming of since I was a little boy – to run onto the pitch for my country with the eagle on my chest.
bundesliga.com: You became European Champion with the German U21 team. How proud are you of that?
Wirtz: "The U21 European Championship was another special experience in my career. It wasn't too long ago. I'm very proud of that and having won my first – or second – gold medal. To win it for Germany is another level altogether. I'm very happy about it and proud to have been part of the team because we had such a great tournament. We played with such passion and heart. That's why it was such a big feat, not being the favourites and still winning that gold medal."
bundesliga.com: What memories do you have of your first goal in the Bundesliga?
Wirtz: "I think it was a moment that went down in history as being the youngest scorer in the Bundesliga. These are moments such as your debut or your first goal that will have a special place in your mind. These are things you will always be specifically proud of."
Watch: Wirtz's first Bundesliga goal - against Bayern Munich!
bundesliga.com: You wear the number 27 on your shirt. Why is that?
Wirtz: "That number wasn't my first choice. I initially wanted something else but it didn't work out. In the end, I decided on taking the number 27 and now, in hindsight, I'm very happy I did because I think it's a beautiful number and I think it looks good on my back. I see people walking around with the number 27 so it will always be a special number for me because I've already achieved and experienced things with it. I hope it will remain on my back."
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