Josh Sargent has become a key player for Werder Bremen in double-quick time. bundesliga.com sat down with the talented USMNT youngster for an exclusive interview to get his thoughts on everything from LeBron James to German schnitzel…
Josh Sargent: “I would say I miss the overall culture of America. It’s not that I don’t like it over here, it’s just that I grew up there my whole life and I miss it very much. I’m accustomed to over here now, I have my fiancée here, we have a dog, we’re starting a life here right now. I feel very comfortable here.”
bundesliga.com: After last season in which Werder flirted with disaster and barely managed to stay in the league, what are Bremen’s ambitions and goals for this season?
Sargent: “Of course we don’t want to repeat last year but at the same time, if we can get a good start with a few wins at the beginning of the season, it will get us into a good rhythm and from there hopefully the season will take off and put us in a good position.”
bundesliga.com: If we briefly look back on the last season, how physically and mentally demanding was this relegation battle?
Sargent: “Towards the end of the season, obviously we had a lot of games, two games a week, so at the weekend, Wednesday, weekend, Wednesday. Of course it was different to what we’re used to, it was mentally challenging for us as well. We knew we had to fight for every single game. If you take a second off in the game, if you switch off, something bad could happen and it could ruin our chances of staying up. We all knew what we had to do, we all knew we had to fight until the end and that’s what we did.”
bundesliga.com: What did it do to you personally, how much impact did it have on your personal life?
Sargent: “I think my fiancée wasn’t having a very good time towards the end of the season! Everything is good now though.”
bundesliga.com: It was only a short summer break. How did you spend the off season and your vacation?
Sargent: “I went back to Florida and you can’t really go out and do much there, so I was just staying in the apartment. Going to the beach a little bit also but of course being smart about it.”
bundesliga.com: Now that you’ve established yourself in the first team, what are your goals for this season, and do you think this could be a breakout year as far as your goal scoring is concerned?
Sargent: “Yeah I think I have put myself in a very good position right now. As long as I keep working as hard as I can then good things will happen.”
bundesliga.com: You recently said you want to become Werder’s top goalscorer, is that Josh Sargent’s new self-confidence?
Sargent: “It should be any striker’s goal to be the top goal scorer, whatever team you’re in. If you’re not shooting for the highest then there’s not really any point, that’s just how my mindset is.”
Watch: The best of Sargent's 14 Bremen goals to date?
bundesliga.com: A few weeks ago, your manager Florian Kohfeldt said that he “can’t imagine a starting XI that doesn’t include” you. How did you feel when you heard that comment, and what does the manager’s confidence mean for you this season?
Sargent: “Of course having the manager's confidence makes me more confident in how I can play. At the same time I know it’s not guaranteed that I’ll be in the starting XI, I know I have to work as hard as I can and anything can happen. If I don’t play a good game I’m sure his mindset can change very quickly. I just have to keep working hard.”
bundesliga.com: Being asked to deliver on a regular basis now, does that put a little pressure on you?
Sargent: “I don’t want to say it’s pressure. You’re expected to deliver every time you play so it’s the same.”
bundesliga.com: So many young American players start their career in the Bundesliga. Just to name a few: Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Gio Reyna and yourself. Do you see this as an improvement of young American talents or is the Bundesliga the perfect place for young stars to flourish?
Sargent: “You can see it’s a very good place. It’s different for every player of course, every player can develop in different ways. But you can see the Bundesliga is a good pathway with all these players you just named, Reyna, Adams, Pulisic, McKennie, myself. I think it’s kind of an eye opener for a lot of people in the US, they see that we can do it over here and it’s making them more confident in themselves that they can come over and do it as well.”
bundesliga.com: How amazing has Reyna’s performance been so far, shining in a top team like Borussia Dortmund being only 17 years old?
Sargent: “It’s pretty crazy what he’s doing. He’s obviously a very talented guy but I don’t want to say too much so his confidence doesn’t go through the sky!”
bundesliga.com: Also, Tyler Adams is playing a big role at RB Leipzig, what are his qualities?
Sargent: “He’s obviously very good on the ball, he’s always working very hard. It’s impressive what he’s doing.”
bundesliga.com: You guys know each other very well, also from the US national team, how often do you exchange words while you’re here? Especially with Gio and Tyler who are playing in the Bundesliga?
Sargent: “I think almost every day, it’s not always a full conversation, maybe just a Snapchat or something but we’re always keeping in touch. I’d say we are very close.”
bundesliga.com: How exciting is it to play against your fellow countrymen? Who of those guys do you like to play against best?
Sargent: “I wouldn’t have a favourite but of course every time it’s fun to see another guy who has had the same development as yourself. Seeing them over here and playing against them on the same field in front of thousands of people, hopefully. It’s a really cool feeling.”
bundesliga.com: When you were young, did you follow US players like for instance Michael Bradley or Steve Cherundolo who played in the Bundesliga?
Sargent: “To be honest, when I was young I didn’t watch much football. I think I thought it was pretty boring actually! I played a lot of different sports, I preferred watching American football and basketball the most! That’s how it was.”
bundesliga.com: Is there a role model in sports that you really admire?
Sargent: “It’s hard not to admire LeBron James. I know he’s probably a lot of people’s go-to person but the example he sets for the younger generation is amazing with his work rate but also how he is off the field, he’s just a great guy.”
bundesliga.com: What was the biggest challenge you faced when you started your career in Germany?
Sargent: “The language, the new culture and also the football side of things, it was my first professional club. I wasn’t the top guy any more, I was coming in from the bottom and had to prove myself. It was very challenging of course but, like I always say, working as hard as you can can always get you through the hard times and show people that you want to belong here.”
bundesliga.com: What was the best advice you received that helped you to overcome that challenge?
Sargent: “I have to think about that. The thing that sticks with me the most was before I came over here there was a conversation with my dad. He said ‘go over there, work as hard as you can and if it doesn’t work out, you can always come back to the US but while you’re young you should challenge yourself and push your boundaries of what you’re comfortable with. Everything will work out for a reason.’ That stuck with me the most.”
bundesliga.com: After two years, are you by now a fan of German food? What’s your favourite German dish?
Sargent: “I say this every time but Schnitzel! Not just to you but in every interview. I can’t have it so often but when I do it’s good.”
bundesliga.com: How do you spend your spare time? What do you like to do most?
Sargent: “Video games. I like to play with my dog, I play golf a little bit. Those are the things I do the most I would say.”
bundesliga.com: How is your golf game going?
Sargent: “It’s good, I’m getting there. I haven’t been able to go so often over here. I’m trying to go more and more this year. It’s slowly progressing.”
bundesliga.com: What has been your most special moment in the Bundesliga so far?
Sargent: “I would say the one that stands out the most was the game last season against Cologne. We were winning 6-1, I was on the pitch and they called out in the stadium that Düsseldorf were losing 3-1 and I got goosebumps. It was a crazy season of battling the whole time, upset with my personal life, everything, there was so much emotion, then hearing that we still had a chance, it was a crazy feeling, a very good feeling.”
bundesliga.com: What has been your favourite moment of your life so far?
Sargent: “A lot of things! I don’t know, you’ll have to come back to me on that, there are too many things. I don’t want to upset anybody by saying a certain thing.”
bundesliga.com: What was your most difficult moment of your life so far?
Sargent: “Most difficult I would say was moving to a different country at such a young age.”