Jamal Musiala has been making himself at home in the Bayern Munich first team during 2020/21. - © imago images
Jamal Musiala has been making himself at home in the Bayern Munich first team during 2020/21. - © imago images
bundesliga

Bayern Munich's Jamal Musiala on playing chess and dreaming in English and German

Bayern Munich midfielder Jamal Musiala has exploded into the spotlight in the 2020/21 Bundesliga season.

Since making a two-minute debut on the penultimate day of last season, 18-year-old Musiala has gone on to establish himself as a member of Bayern's first-team under Hansi Flick, making 29 appearances across all competitions and scoring four goals - including a first in the UEFA Champions League, making him the club's youngest ever scorer in the competition.

Having only turned 18 in February of 2021, Musiala has spent most of his first season in the senior squad at the Allianz Arena as a 17-year-old. He's also now been called up by Germany head coach Joachim Löw for the first time, but playing amongst older players is something the Stuttgart-born playmaker has long been used to.

"I always had to deal with bigger and stronger opponents," Musiala told FCBayernTV. "In order to succeed, I had to find other solutions and learn how to use my physique in the right way. At school in England, I also played chess. There you have to be very proactive, always looking at what your opponent might do. I liked that."

Musiala spent most of his childhood in England, in fact, after his mother undertook a semester abroad when he was just seven. There, he honed his love for football while playing in the academies of both Southampton and Chelsea.

Despite being set to make his international debut for Germany at the end of March, Musiala very much sees himself as both English and German and his dreams - literally - support that claim.

Jamal Musiala (l.) has established himself as part of the first-team at Bayern Munich alongside the likes of Thomas Müller (r.). - Markus Ulmer/Ulmer/Pool

"I was once asked in which language I think and dream. Somehow it's both: English and German," Musiala said. "Both belong to me. I always spoke German with my mother at home. At the same time, I felt very comfortable in England, I made friends there, and I'm still in touch with many of them every day. We send each other messages and play on the Playstation. They're also happy for me, with how far I've come."

Speaking both English and German has also helped Musiala transition into Bayern's international first-team squad, with the likes of Alphonso Davies and Joshua Zirkzee - currently on loan at Parma - becoming close friends due to both their age and language skills.

But nothing can prepare you for your first training session with the current defending Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League winners as Musiala explained when recalling his first time being called up for training with the senior squad.

Watch: Musiala and the Bundesliga's next generation

"The night before, I checked my alarm clock six or seven times to make sure I wouldn't oversleep," Musiala said. "I didn't sleep much either. When I got to the dressing room, no one was there because there was a meeting. I didn't dare sit down anywhere, in someone else's seat. I just stood around and waited - until Joshua Zirkzee came and helped me.

"I train every day to be ready for just a moment like that, also mentally. When I'm on the pitch, I just enjoy it, I want to have the ball and play. That's when I have a clear head and don't feel any pressure."