FIFA World Cup-winning Germany head coach Joachim Löw sits down for an exclusive interview with - © imago images / Laci Perenyi
FIFA World Cup-winning Germany head coach Joachim Löw sits down for an exclusive interview with - © imago images / Laci Perenyi

Exclusive: Germany head coach Joachim Löw on Hansi Flick, Leroy Sane, Manuel Neuer and Youssoufa Moukoko


Joachim Löw discusses the fortunes of his former right-hand man, the return of Leroy Sane, how Manuel Neuer has remained one of the world's best goalkeepers and Borussia Dortmund's 15-year-old German-born youth talent Youssoufa Moukoko... Joachim Löw, what are your thoughts about the UEFA Nations League for Germany at the moment?

Joachim Löw: "I would say we're in a good place at the moment after the win in Ukraine. You could see that some things didn't go quite as well as they have done in the past, but we're going through a process with a younger team and a lot of changes. In that respect, it's clear that not everything will go to plan and that we can't expect any miracles. We picked up two points against Spain and Switzerland, which wasn't enough if you look at how the games went. It was good that we won in Ukraine and that we overcame their resistance, so now we need to see if we can build on this. The Nations League is very good preparation for a tournament." Leroy Sane has returned to Germany. Is this good for Bayern Munich and for the Bundesliga as well?

Löw: "It's good for the Bundesliga and our fans because signing Leroy Sane is an attractive deal and he can entertain fans through the way he plays. It's good for us because we can see a bit more of him than if he were still at Manchester City. On the other hand, maybe it did him some good to go from Schalke to Manchester City and to train with a top coach [in Pep Guardiola] there. This would have helped him in his development." You played together with Sane's father at Freiburg in your own playing days. How was that?

Löw: "The father [Souleyman] was just as quick as Leroy, if not a little bit quicker. Leroy has had better technical training, but his father was very dangerous in front of goal and he scored a lot of goals for us in the second division." Hansi Flick used to be the assistant coach of the national team and was just voted Europe's Coach of the Year. What makes him so special?

Löw: "He has a very high level of expertise and he has the gift of being able to prepare his team for their attacking duties very well, which is something that Bayern Munich needs because the opposition always sits very deep. He's also very empathetic towards his players and he's understanding in important situations. He's a good communicator and he can convey to the players what he wants, so the players listen to him and follow him."

Joachim Löw is delighted to see Leroy Sane playing in the Bundesliga once again with Bayern Munich. - imago images What role has Hansi Flick played in Bayern's success?

Löw: "Bayern has always had a good team but, in the last few years, things didn't always go as they'd hoped under a different coach who also has a lot of talent. Hansi had already been assistant coach for a few months, so he knew what the problems were and what important steps had to be taken with the team. It was an advantage for him that he wasn't completely new in the job and that he had already seen how things were going. He also had the advantage that some of the Bayern players already knew him and his way of coaching from the national team. Back then, he was already a very important part of our system." There were four German coaches nominated for the Coach of the Year by UEFA. What is this down to? Is the DFB coaching education partly responsible?

Löw: "The education is very good. Our coaching training always tries to improve in all areas and it looks at other developments elsewhere. We have had good coaches for a long time and not just this summer. Thomas Tuchel, Jürgen Klopp, Hansi Flick and Julian Nagelsmann have been doing very good work for several years, but it's always a bit dependent on which teams reach the semi-finals of the Champions League and how they're performing in the league. Things are changing a bit, but Germany has always had, and still has, good coaches that have a very high level of expertise." Have clubs become braver in employing young coaches?

Löw: "There is definitely a trend at certain clubs where coaches are doing a very good job in the youth teams and then they're given a chance to show their ability at the very top. These brave decisions have become more frequent in the last five to 10 years because it wasn't always the case before then. Back then, it was maybe in name only, but today the clubs have a consistent philosophy which means that the youth team coaches know what football is being played in the first team and vice versa. This means that the youth coaches have the right qualities and often deservedly get their chance at the top."

Watch: Bayern's title journey What impact does the success of RB Leipzig and Bayern Munich in Europe have on the reputation of German football?

Löw: "It was great for German football and for the Bundesliga in general that Bayern got to the Champions League final and won and that Leipzig were in the semi-finals. It was also good that the Bundesliga could start so early after the coronavirus break and it was fantastic that the league was able to put together this safety plan. Our teams and league were able to get back in a rhythm and it's always positive for everyone if our teams go far in the Champions League." Robert Lewandowski was voted European Footballer of the Year. How much did he deserve this?

Löw: "He thoroughly deserved it. There were two players across the season and in the Champions League who really stood out. Manuel Neuer was a player who won games for his team, including in the semi-final and final. Lewandowski scored an incredible amount of goals and has been at this same level for five or six years. Every year he scores around 30 goals in the league and this year he was also top goalscorer in the Champions League. He's exceptionally good and has been one of the best two or three strikers in the world for a considerable time. He went up another level this year and the award is very well deserved." Does Manuel Neuer prove the theory that even older goalkeepers can put in very good performances?

Löw: "I don't know whether it's always the case because it's dependent on the quality of the player. Manuel didn't become a great goalkeeper over time because he was already a great goalkeeper when he came to the national team at the age of 20. He had a great tournament for us in 2010 and he was there again in 2014, and he was much younger at this stage. Experience is one thing, but he was able to maintain this high level in terms of his reactions and his speed and that isn't always easy. Even after his bad injury when he was out for almost a year, he picked up straight where he left off in the following months. Realistically, he has been one of the best goalkeepers, or even the best goalkeeper, in the world for many years."

Joachim Löw has long stood behind Manuel Neuer, keeping him as No.1 for Germany. - imago images There is a lot of talent in the Bundesliga, such as Jadon Sancho, Gio Reyna, and Jude Bellingham at Dortmund. How good is this for the league's appeal?

Löw: "It's important for the development of a club to bring through its own youth players and to have a lot of young players in the team. The question is always what expectations are put on these players within the team and Dortmund has a very good strategy when it comes to this. They have fantastic players who are just 17 or 18 years old, but the question is how long they can hold onto these players and what happens if they lose one or two games. There is sometimes a bit of unrest in Dortmund and they often have ambitions to be champions, but it is simply a joy for the fans and for everyone else to watch Dortmund when they have 18 or 19-year-olds playing who are already so strong. There are other clubs like Leverkusen who develop very strong young players such as Kai Havertz and who do good work in the youth teams. I enjoy seeing young players of 18 or 19 playing in the first team and putting in good performances." What can we expect from someone like Youssoufa Moukoko in the future?

Löw: "I haven't seen Moukoko live yet, but I got in touch with his coaches and spoke to [former Dortmund U19 head coach] Michael Skibbe, and I have also watched a couple of videos. It's almost hard to believe that someone at that age can score so many goals in an U19 league against players two or three years older than him. He has a talent which you don't come across that often, especially since age always plays a role in the youth teams. It's difficult if you're two years younger and you always have to keep an eye on how players develop, but Moukoko has been outstanding in the youth teams so far."