VfB Stuttgart’s teenage Turkish star Ozan Kabak has hailed the Bundesliga as “one of the best leagues in Europe” and said that he received a virtual pat on the back from Turkey and Borussia Dortmund legend Nuri Sahin following his move to Germany.
Kabak spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com about life in his new surrounds, the influence of Sahin and his fellow Turks, his defensive inspirations, and why Stuttgart fans should expect even more goals...
Question: Why did you decide to move to the Bundesliga and to VfB Stuttgart in particular?
Ozan Kabak: “The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues in Europe. It was important for me to come to the Bundesliga. VfB presented a strong vision and aims and I am very happy to be here. We hope to finish the season strongly and put in better performances next year.”
Question: Have you already been in touch with the other Turkish players in the Bundesliga?
Kabak: “Yes, there are a lot of Turkish players in the Bundesliga. I meet up with Nuri Şahin [Werder Bremen] or Kaan Ayhan [Fortuna Düsseldorf] and there are others that I see during games. We also have a chat when we are away with the national team and I get along with all of them. We are always in contact with one another.”
Watch: Kabak scores late equaliser in 1-1 draw with Nuremberg!
Question: What did they tell you ahead of your switch to the Bundesliga?
Kabak: “Nuri Sahin wrote to me on Twitter and congratulated me. I am in contact with all of them anyway and they did not need to tell me about the Bundesliga because everybody knows about the league and watches the games. I already knew a lot about the Bundesliga before coming here.”
Question: Do you have a role model in football?
Kabak: “There are a lot of players that I admire, such as [Virgil] van Dijk, [Raphael] Varane, and Sergio Ramos. I take a look at a lot of players, but I don’t have a specific role model because I am trying to develop my own style.”
Question: You are only 19 years old. How does it feel to already be a great hope for this club?
Kabak: “It is true that I am still only 19 and people have high hopes for me at this club. We are in a difficult situation, but I am giving my all for the club and for myself. I am doing my best and I want to put in good performances and contribute to success. The only thing I can do is keep training hard.”
Question: You didn’t score any goals for Galatasaray this season, but you have already scored three times for Stuttgart. Why is this?
Kabak: “I actually scored 10-15 goals a season in the youth teams and the youth national teams. I tried to do the same at Galatasaray and I remember that I hit the post against Besiktas. I also missed a few chances in the Champions League, but it obviously wasn’t meant to be. I then came to the Bundesliga and scored two goals in one game. I continually have chances in front of goal and my aim is to score more goals. I don’t know why I am in that position so often, maybe I just have an instinct of where to stand to score goals.”
Question: You scored your first Bundesliga goals against Hannover. How did this feel?
Kabak: “They were not only my first Bundesliga goals, but my first professional goals. It was a very special moment for me and my whole family was in the stadium. I scored two goals in one half and I could have even scored a hat trick. Hopefully I will score many more goals in my career.”
Question: You are playing alongside World Cup champion, Benjamin Pavard. What can you learn from him?
Kabak: “Benj is a very modest guy and a very good person. You cannot say a bad word about his career and his performances speak for themselves. He is also young, but I am learning a lot by playing alongside him. He may be leaving the club at the end of the season, but he has still taught me a lot in such a short space of time.”
Question: Stuttgart is currently in danger of getting relegated. How do you plan to get out of this situation in the next few games?
Kabak: “To be honest, our situation is not great when you look at it realistically and we dropped too many easy points. But we still have five games ahead of us and possibly the play-off games. Our only focus is to stay in the league and I am not thinking about anything beyond that. I am fully concentrated on the league.”
Question: How would you describe the current atmosphere within the team?
Kabak: “There is a good atmosphere in the team ahead of every game and we go into each game wanting to win. I don’t know why we keep on conceding simple goals and missing chances up front. This is, of course, demoralising for us and brings us down. But we will keep training hard in order to keep the club in the league.”