bundesliga

Joshua Kimmich: 10 things on the Bayern Munich and Germany ace

Joshua Kimmich might be the only man in the modern game to rank as conceivably the world's best player in two different positions - but what else is there to know about the Bayern Munich and Germany generational talent? bundesliga.com fills in the blanks...

1) "Not good enough" for Stuttgart, but good enough for Leipzig

After spending several years making weekly trips to Stuttgart from his hometown of Rottweil, Kimmich began taking his first real footsteps in the world of football when he was welcomed into VfB's renowned academy as one of only 18 annual recruits – when he was just 14.

Despite playing alongside the likes of Serge Gnabry and Timo Werner up to the age of 18, Kimmich's hopes of breaking into the reserves were dashed. "'You're not good enough, your body is not strong enough,' the coaches told me, adding that I needed another year with the youth team," he recalled.

Instead of being his first big break, it was something which could have broken him – but it didn't. Kimmich drew strength and resolve from the set-back and decided to seek his fortune elsewhere, and it just so happened the youth coach who had lured him to Stuttgart had since moved to RB Leipzig, and he wanted him there.

"I just thought, I have this chance and I have to take it," Kimmich said.

2) Handpicked by Pep

Kimmich proved an instant hit in the Leipzig midfield, helping the ambitious German club gain promotion from the third tier in 2013/14. Midway through his first season of Bundesliga 2 football, he signed a deal with record champions Bayern, whose then coach Pep Guardiola reportedly went to watch him in action prior to the 2014/15 winter break.

"I was 20 years old playing in the second division. I was like, 'Why do they want to get me when they can have every player in the world?' So it was a bit strange for me. But I knew I had this great opportunity," Kimmich said.

"I sat down in a conference room at Bayern's offices waiting to meet Pep Guardiola," he continued. "All I knew about Pep was from what I had seen on TV. I was so nervous, but as he walked in, I felt it right away — that trust. And immediately I knew: I wanted to play for Bayern.

"Pep spoke to me about my strengths and my weaknesses, and how he wanted to help me become a better player by learning a different style of play. 'I want you on this team,' he told me. That’s a moment I will never forget."

Joshua Kimmich first caught the eye of the Bayern Munich hierarchy during a formative loan spell with RB Leipzig. - imago

3) A Bayern legend at 26

Kimmich has since ended every season as a Bundesliga champion with Bayern. He's made over 261 competitive appearances for the Bavarian giants, producing 30 goals and 71 assists.

Stuttgart's one that got away has also lifted three DFB Cups, four DFL Supercups, the UEFA Champions League, the FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup, and was voted into the 2019/20 UEFA Team of the Season for his part in Bayern's sixth European Cup triumph.

According to Lothar Matthäus, a Bundesliga and Germany legend in his own right, Kimmich will define an era for club and country.

“Joshua is one of the most important players in German football, not only now but also for the future." commented the 1990 Ballon d'Or winner in 2020. "I see him as a [future] captain of Bayern, I see him like a [future] captain of the national team. He has the German mentality.

"He is always giving his best. He is a winner. He can defend, attack, give the last pass, give the cross, score, plays with passion. He has a lot of quality and he is just [26], so it is fantastic."

Watch: Joshua Kimmich - Bayern Munich's indispensable leader

4) Master of all trades

Jose Mourinho shares Matthäus' enthusiasm for a player more pliable than a bumper set of Play-Doh.

"I see him as a top right-back, left-back, centre-back, No.6, No.8, No.10... he has qualities to be anything," the decorated Portuguese coach told DAZN. "He's intelligent and understands what he has to do here and what he has to do there. I think he's phenomenal - absolutely phenomenal player."

Kimmich's preferred role is as a central midfielder, and he's surely one of the world's best, just as he is when operating at right-back for club and country. Guardiola even used the thinking man's footballer in the centre of defence during his three-year spell in charge of Bayern.

In one of the most memorable snapshots of Guardiola's tenure in Munich, the Spanish tactician darted onto the pitch as soon as the final whistle was blown on the 0-0 draw with Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park, and was seen animatedly gesticulating and talking to Kimmich.

It looked as though Guardiola was berating the then 21-year-old, but it turns out the opposite was in fact true. "I told him he's one of the best centre-backs in the world," Guardiola said at the time. "He's got absolutely everything."

Watch: Pep Guardiola's unforgettable post-match chat with Joshua Kimmich

5) ... including a moral compass

When a fully grown adult male snatched Kimmich's match-worn jersey from a young Bayern supporter at the Allianz Arena following a Bundesliga win over Schalke in February 2019, the Germany international stuck around to ensure his shirt ended up in the hands of its intended recipient. The poor kid had penned a custom sign asking the Bayern warrior for it, after all.

Whether it was fan pressure or Kimmich's death stare, the culprit didn't take long to return the goods to the rightful, and gleeful, owner. Had he ignored the situation, he may well have been on the receiving end of a very public dressing down from Bayern's - if not the Bundesliga's - loudest player.

"He's a vocal player, I like that," said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

6) WeKickCorona

Opening up a can of proverbial on and off the pitch, Kimmich's response to the global Covid-19 pandemic is more admirable still.

Working alongside Bayern and Germany midfield partner Leon Goretzka, Kimmich founded the WeKickCorona initiative, designed to help charitable associations and social institutions effected by the pandemic and associated lockdowns.

The duo provided €1 million as start-up capital - a fund that has since grown to over €5 million thanks to some 4,300 donors, including Germany internationals Mats Hummels, Lukas Klostermann, and Leroy Sane.

"We must help each other. With deeds, with gestures, with responsible action and with rationality. We are one society," Kimmich told the Bayern website.

"Health comes first, that’s why solidarity is now necessary in both small and large."

In recognition of their efforts, Kimmich and Goretzka were subsequently presented with the Fair Play Prize of German Sports for 2020, an annual award that honours actions, gestures, or initiatives characterised by fair play.

In October 2020, Kimmich (l.) and Leon Goretzka (c.) also claimed Bavaria's inaugural 'Special Award for Exemplary Commitment to Overcoming the Coronavirus Pandemic’. - imago

7) Red in club colours only

'Fair Play' may as well be Kimmich's middle name.

Remarkably for a player who packs more testosterone in his pocket-rocket frame than the entire field at an Arnold Classic, the Bayern all-rounder has never been sent off in over 370 competitive appearances for club and country.

His only red card on record fell whilst playing for Stuttgart in the U19s Bundesliga on 3 March 2013, four weeks after his 18th birthday.

Watch: How Kimmich runs the Bayern midfield

8) A Bayern record-breaker with an eye of the spectacular

Kimmich isn't a regular goalscorer, but he does have a habit of putting away worldies.

The standout is arguably his audacious chip over despairing Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Bürki in the May 2020 Klassiker at the Signal Iduna Park. It was the only goal of the game, and virtually ended BVB's hope of catching Bayern at the summit.

A lesser-known tid-bit from that hot-blooded affair is that Kimmich set a single-game club record for distance covered: 8.53 miles/ 13.73 kilometers.

Watch: Kimmich's incredible chip against Borussia Dortmund

9) He surpassed Beckenbauer

Records and Kimmich go hand in hand.

The Bayern terrier made a remarkable 24 consecutive appearances for Germany between June 2016 and October 2017 – bettering a sequence set by none other than Franz Beckenbauer. He impressed so much during that spell that he was named in a poll on the German Football Association's (DFB) website as their Player of the Year for 2017, winning by a mile with 43.5 per cent of the 52,761 votes.

Kimmich - who made his Germany debut at 21 in a friendly defeat to Slovakia in May 2016 and was part of his country's 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup-winning team - had earned 55 senior international caps prior to UEFA Euro 2020.

A 2014 UEFA U19s Euro winner, Kimmich has already played for the Germany seniors at three major finals. - MATTHIAS SCHRADER/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

10) A future Ballon d'Or winner?

Kimmich could yet emulate Beckenbauer by becoming the sixth German national to get his hands on the Ballon d'Or as the world's best men's player.

His former Bayern and soon-to-be Germany head coach Hansi Flick certainly believes him capable of joining the great Kaiser (1972 & 76), Gerd Müller (1970), Rummenigge (1980 & 81), Matthäus (1990) and Matthias Sammer (1996) on the all-time list of global greats.

"I think if he manages to channel his extraordinary ambition a little better and steers it in the right direction, then he can become the world's best player," Flick said of Kimmich in an interview with 51, the official Bayern magazine.

"He's already a world-class player in several positions, but he can take another step - and I hope he does."