Kai Havertz is just two games away from bringing up his century of Bundesliga appearances at the tender age of 20. bundesliga.com sat down with the talented Bayer Leverkusen and Germany attacker for an exclusive interview.
bundesliga.com: You've been out since the international break with a hamstring problem. When will you be fit again?
Kai Havertz: "It's my first muscle injury and my first injury in general, so I can't really say. But I don’t think it will be too much longer. Injuries are always annoying, but it was bound to happen at some point. I stayed injury-free for a long time and now it's finally happened. This won't be a setback for me, and luckily it's not a bad injury. It's just a small injury and I'll definitely come back stronger."
bundesliga.com: How do you think the season has gone for Leverkusen so far?
Havertz: "It's difficult to say. We're looking good in the table, even though we lost a few games that we shouldn't have lost. We're still not too far away from the top spots, so you can't say that we had a bad start. We're doing well and you can see this year that a lot of good teams are involved at the top. We can count ourselves as one of these teams, but there are still a lot of games to be played this season and a lot of points up for grabs. We'll try to be more consistent in picking up points, and I'm confident that we can do this and that we can be near the top at the end of the season."
Watch: Check out the first 26 Bundesliga goals of Havertz's career
bundesliga.com: You scored 17 league goals last season. How is the current campaign going for you on a personal level?
Havertz: "Last season was like a benchmark for me, so it's been difficult to keep pace with this. This was my aim, and I started this season well with two goals in the first two games. It's normal for a young player like me to then experience a small dip, but these are phases that shape you as a player and as a person. You learn the most in these situations, and I think it was the first time in my career that praise wasn't constantly being heaped on me. The things being written about me weren't all positive, but things like that don't hold me back and I'll just try to prove myself again."
bundesliga.com: Did you watch the Bundesliga when you were younger?
Havertz: "I always watched the Bundesliga and I was a huge football fan. The whole family enjoyed football and we weren't the type of fans who just tuned in for the World Cup or the European Championships. We watched every game, and this was at the time when [Havertz's local team] Alemannia Aachen played in the Bundesliga. Even when they slipped down the leagues, we watched every game every weekend. For us, there was nothing bigger in Germany than the Bundesliga because football was our family sport. I always looked forward to the games at the weekend, both as a fan back then and now as a player. It's a dream come true for me."
bundesliga.com: Who got you interested in football as a child?
Havertz: "It started early with my grandfather because he was also a big football fan. My father played a lot of football, albeit not at a high level, and my brother also played. Everyone was football crazy, and we were just a football family. We loved football and everything revolved around it, so I grew up with it and that's how this passion developed."
bundesliga.com: When did you realise that you could become a professional footballer?
Havertz: "I realised relatively early because if you start playing football as a young boy, then it's always your aim to become a professional footballer. Of course, that always seems a long way off because you have a lot of other things to think about like school and education. Personally, I noticed at U17 level that this could lead somewhere because I realised I was quite good and I had some potential. Of course, that didn't mean that I was ready to go straight to the top, and there was also a lot of hard work and a bit of luck involved. Things worked out well for me and I moved up to the professionals quite early. I played my first few games and this gave me a lot of self-confidence. Time seems to have flown by after that."
bundesliga.com: What are your memories of the first Bundesliga game you played in – against Werder Bremen in October 2016?
Havertz: "It was an away game so unfortunately none of my family were there in the stadium. Of course everybody was very pleased for me, and my family played a large role in getting me there. My parents drove me to games and tournaments almost every weekend, so it was a team effort from my whole family to get me to my debut. We all enjoyed the moment together and it still seems like just yesterday rather than four years ago. It's a day that I will always look back on."
bundesliga.com: What has been your personal highlight of the last few years watching and playing in the Bundesliga?
Havertz: "It's difficult to pinpoint particular moments. Generally it's great when the stadiums are sold out and you can feel the kind of atmosphere that is created. You see the emotions of the game play out through the fans and the players, and this gives you goosebumps. These are the moments you want to experience yourself, and every matchday brings something special."
bundesliga.com: What has been the hardest moment of your life so far?
Havertz: "When I had to do my secondary school exams at the same time as playing in the DFB Cup. I had an exam on Wednesday after an away game on the Tuesday evening that went to extra time and penalties. I got home relatively late and had to do an exam the next day. I don't want to talk about how the exam went!"