Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey: "I want to leave a legacy for the younger generation, and Jamaica"


After scoring a match-winning brace at Bayern Munich's Allianz Arena, Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey has told bundesliga.com that he wants to work towards leaving a legacy for aspiring young footballers in his Jamaican homeland and beyond.

Bailey's Matchday 13 double in Munich took his Bundesliga tally to 17 goals in 73 appearances since moving to Leverkusen from Belgian outfit Genk in January 2017.

The 22-year-old, who left Kingston, Jamaica at 13, has also played in Austria and Slovakia in a colourful young career.

bundesliga.com caught up with the Leverkusen winger to discuss his Bayern salvo, career goals, inspirations, eight-time Olympic champion Usain Bolt and more...

bundesliga.com: Leon Bailey, how did it feel to score twice against Bayern?

Leon Bailey: "For me, it was a special feeling. Being able to score two goals in Munich and actually win the game is an incredible feeling, not just for me, but for the whole team. I think we all gave 100 per cent out there, and also with some luck we deserved that three points. This is the right way, and everybody can see that: if we put our minds to it, we can do it."

bundesliga.com: Not many score a brace against Bayern, let alone win in Munich...

Bailey: "Occasions like that, I live for these moments. Bayern are a top team, and of course, these are games that young players live to play for. When you have the opportunity, I believe you have to take it, and I always try to give 100 per cent in every single game, but of course you have a different motivation against bigger and stronger opponents."

bundesliga.com: Talk to us about your celebrations...

Bailey: "Well, the first celebration is my actual celebration, but then there is this Jamaican singer, her name is Koffee in Jamaica, she has a new song that says 'Leave the L and take the W', which means 'leave the losing and take the win'. So it was kind of a W, to say a 'win', for us."

Watch: Leon Bailey was MD13's Man of the Matchday

bundesliga.com: Leverkusen are seventh in the table and only two points behind Bayern in fourth after 13 matches. What do you make of the season so far?

Bailey: "We had a good start, but then we had some ups and downs, but I believe right now, for the last couple of games, it’s been good so far. I think we’re in a good position; we just have to make sure that we [beat Schalke] on Saturday and then I think we have a good chance to be in the top six."

bundesliga.com: How about your own season?

Bailey: "Yeah, I should say I had a really tough past two months with injuries, and of course, when I came back I got a red card, but this is a learning process. Everything is kind of new to me still, so I think this a part of the development and I think it will get better in the future."

bundesliga.com: Was the Bayern game a sign that you're getting back to your best?

Bailey: "I definitely would say so, because obviously the last two months were a really low moment for me, but I’m really happy I’m able to find myself again, and hopefully I can kick it off again and be back to where I need to be. I’m a player who likes to learn from mistakes, and in the beginning when I started out it was a little bit tough, but as I said, everything for me is a learning process and I think I learned from mistakes. I just try to use them as an advantage to make myself better, and so far over the years I’ve been here I think I’ve really improved a lot, and there is a lot more room for improvement. This is my focus."

bundesliga.com: You face a direct rival for a European finish in Schalke on Matchday 14. What are you expecting from the game?

Bailey: "I expect us to bring the same confidence we did in the last game against Bayern Munich, give 100 per cent as we did, put our all into it, leave everything on the pitch, and come out with the three points. If we get the three points at home on Saturday, we have a good chance of being back where we need to be in the top four. I believe we have a good chance, more than any other team right now.”

bundesliga.com: After that, you make the short trip to Cologne for the Rhine derby...

Bailey: "Derbies are always special. Any derby you play is a special game, for the fans, for the whole club, for the city, and as I said, we have a good chance. Cologne are not so good at the moment and as you can see, we’ve done a lot of impressive stuff this season. I think if we really put our minds to it, we can achieve it."

bundesliga.com: So what's the objective for Leverkusen this season?

Bailey: "It’s quite simple. We always hope to be champion, but you know, it’s very difficult. But of course, to actually make it to the Champions League again, and to play in Europe, because this is everybody’s dream, to be in Europe."

bundesliga.com: You've scored 17 Bundesliga goals, including three against Bayern - which is your favourite?

Bailey: "My favourite Bundesliga goal will always be the backheel goal against Hoffenheim. I wouldn’t say I’m a man for the important goal, I would say I try to be, and I’m always trying to be the best I can be to help my team, in whatever situation it is."

Watch: Relive Bailey's audacious back-heeled goal against Hoffenheim!

bundesliga.com: Would you say you're generally a positive person?

Bailey: "That’s my typical character. I’m the type of person who’s always bringing fun and joy to the whole team. That will always be Leon Bailey. Always. It doesn’t matter the situation we’re in; either good or bad, I’m always the positive one, always trying to make everybody be in a good mood, because I believe as a player, when everyone is feeling good, that’s when you can get the best out of everybody.”

bundesliga.com: What are you like away from the pitch?

Bailey: "Well, away from the field, I’m a person that likes to be in my own space. Sometimes, I like to dress up and that’s my enjoyment too. Just to be able to be around my family and have great moments with them, because I’m always at the training ground, or playing. So it’s always nice to see my family."

bundesliga.com: Who was your idol growing up?

Bailey: "When I was younger, I really admired Ronaldinho a lot because of his style of play. He’s very interesting, and as you can see when he plays, he brings a lot of flair to his game. It’s an enjoyment to watch, people like to come and watch to see something special going on, on the pitch. Yeah, I really admired him when I was younger."

bundesliga.com: Who are your favourite Bundesliga players?

Bailey: "I would say, my two favourites are two young players. I would say Jadon Sancho, and Kai Havertz. I think they are two special players, and they will really go far."

Leverkusen boast two of Europe's most exciting attacking players under the age of 23 in Kai Havertz and Bailey (l-r.). - imago images / Sven Simon

bundesliga.com: You're in your third full season at Leverkusen. Who's your best friend on the team?

Bailey: "My best buddy, I would say I’m good with everyone in the team, but I’m closer to Wendell, to Mousa [Diaby], to Karim [Bellarabi], to Jona [Tah]. They have a similar personality to me, so I think that’s why I’m closer to them."

bundesliga.com: Do you have any pre-match rituals?

Bailey: "So, basically my personal ritual is that I’m always in a good state of mind, always trying to be happy, feel good within myself, and I always pray before the game because I’m a godly person. I always pray for my teammates that we carry out the coach’s instructions. I always make sure that we have the gameplan."

bundesliga.com: "What's been the most important moment in your life so far?

Bailey: "I would say the most important moment in my life was when I finally became a professional football player, because throughout my years trying to become a professional football player, it’s been really tough. I’ve been through so much, made so many sacrifices, haven’t seen my family for years. I think when that happened, that was the most important moment of my life."

bundesliga.com: What about the most difficult moment?

Bailey: "The most difficult moment in my life? I would say when I just came to  Europe. I was 13 years old, I was trying to adapt to the weather and everything, it was snowing, it was cold, I wasn’t used to anything. We didn’t have everything that we needed, but we had to go through, me and my brothers and my dad, we had to go through. I think those were the toughest moments for me."

bundesliga.com: What are your dreams in football?

Bailey: "My dream is to leave a legacy for the younger generation, also for my country, Jamaica, to let them see that there is possibility for everyone. If you put your mind to it, you can achieve it. I see myself playing at the highest level, hopefully in Champions League, and leave a legacy."

bundesliga.com: You're friends with Usain Bolt, but are you faster than him?

Bailey: "I’d never say I’m faster than Usain Bolt, but with the ball I definitely think I can beat him. With the ball!"

bundesliga.com: Who's your most famous follower on Instagram?

Bailey: "My most famous follower on Instagram? I would say Usain Bolt."

bundesliga.com: Who's the most famous person you follow?

Bailey: "The most famous person? I don’t follow a lot of people, but the most famous person I follow on Instagram would be Usain Bolt or Raheem Sterling. I only follow my friends!"