RB Leipzig's Tyler Adams is determined not to slow down as he continues his meteoric rise, telling bundesliga.com: "I just want more of it".
The 20-year-old made his Bundesliga debut in the 4-0 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf on Matchday 19, the highpoint — so far — of a journey that has seen him progress from the New York Red Bulls' Academy to become a full USA international.
The New York state-born midfielder tells us how important fellow trans-Atlantic exports Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke's Weston McKennie have been in helping him settle into life in Germany, his ambitions for this season, and why the toughest thing about his move so far was losing sleep to indulge his passion for the NFL.
Watch: Tyler Adams settling in at RB Leipzig
bundesliga.com: How has the adjustment period been for you?
Tyler Adams: "For me it has been kind of seamless. I kind of give credit to the organisation and the people in this club for how much they've helped me. Whether it is getting settled with an apartment, all the guys, going out to eat with them and doing little things that make the adjustment period so much easier. Once you get things settled off the field, it makes things on the field so much easier, because then you can just be yourself, play your game and have confidence."
bundesliga.com: How important is the role of Jesse Marsch?
Adams: "He's helped me incredibly, having a coach here, when you make the next step to a league like the Bundesliga, who made the decision to sign you when you were 15 years old is definitely nice. His family, you know obviously we go way back, and it is nice to have kind of a coach and a role model figure here with me now. He's got the language understood now and he's helping me with that kind of thing, he has been and coached in some of the big games. It's nice to see him develop and want to take that next step and I'm obviously here for the ride as well."
bundesliga.com: Did you have a Bundesliga idol?
Adams: "Of course, as an American, when Jermaine Jones was in the Bundesliga, that was the first glimpse that you get of the league. For me, when Christian really made the move here and he started to break into the Dortmund team, I really started following right away and seeing what they were doing. It was actually the year after that, I want to say, RB Leipzig got promoted to the first league, I started watching them from the first day they were there. It was Naby Keita and the breakout year this club had, scoring goals for fun, their style of play. It was just so exciting to watch and I think it was at that point when they got promoted to the first division that I said to myself, 'Why can't I make that jump to Leipzig?'. I think it was that year they invited me and another teammate from New York to come train here and then Salzburg and that made all the difference. Once I saw the facilities, how they played and watching the first team train right in front of my eyes I knew I wanted to be here one day."
bundesliga.com: You are now in the national team and play in the Bundesliga, does time fly sometimes?
Adams: "It's definitely surreal to a certain extent. Of course, when you see how fast everything has come, at the end of the day I don't really see it as a pat on the back, I just want more of it and I want to continue to get better, because at the end of the day I know people are going to talk about 'OK, you've had a good game here' but I also know I'm going to have bad games and those are the ones that I know I'll have to realise I need to improve on and at the end of the day I just want to get better. The club has everything to offer for me to get better and from a 16-year-old who just signed his first professional contract, to turning 20 now in two days, it is going to be a lot to grasp in the next couple of months and for me it's about staying grounded and keeping my head on my shoulders, because there's so much more to accomplish still."
bundesliga.com: You have a lot of teammates in the national team who also play in the Bundesliga. Who did you approach?
Adams: "So, of course, it was so quiet, coming here and being in the MLS season. Obviously, having Christian and Weston, who I've grown up with and played on the Under 17 national team together, it was nice to have them in the squad, or Josh Sargent, sorry, who I went to an Under 20 World Cup with and became really close. It's nice to have guys like that, who you actually really talk to on a daily basis, you kind of leave the soccer part out of it, because you realise how close friends you guys are. When you do, all of a sudden, make the move, you realise that you play against Christian in your first game of the season against Dortmund, you'll play against Weston in a couple of weeks, it's really exciting, because that's what it is all about – you have these friendships, but you also have these mini-rivalries between all of you and it's nice to see these guys exceed at such a high level, because that shows there are more Americans who can do the same thing. That's why I was so excited to make the move, because you see some of your friends doing well and you want to do well as well."
bundesliga.com: What is your personal goal for the rest of the season?
Adams: "First my personal goal for this season, I think that, of course, you want to play as many games as possible, but for me it's patience more than anything. Like we said before, everything has come so fast and I can't push anything right now. There are players who have established spots, such quality players here, but at the same time I know it's a club which will give me an opportunity, like they already have, so it's about continuing to work hard and develop some of the things I want to, in the right way. Obviously, within the end of the season, we want to qualify for the Champions League, that's almost the biggest thing on our agenda, we're not in the Europa League anymore, so you're focusing on this season and that is all there is to focus on, so if we can qualify for the Champions League, it would be huge for the organisation. Obviously, they've already been in the Champions League and we want to be a team which continuously makes it every year.
"In three years' time, it's hard to say, because so much has happened in the past three years, what can you predict for the future. But I think for me, just to be an established starter at this team, every time the coach writes down the starting 11 that I'm the first names in there and I think there is a possibility to do that here, because, like I said, they develop players in such the right way and there are so many young guys in the team, so hopefully I can continue to do well."
Watch: Adams lauds the Bundesliga as the place for young players to develop
bundesliga.com: Which players here surprised you the most?
Adams: "It's crazy, right, because you see so many of these guys on TV, you watch a World Cup and you see Timo out there and you're like, 'OK, one day he is going to be my teammate', when you're still in New York, it's like 'OK, he's not my teammate yet, he doesn't even know who I am, but I'm watching him on TV right now', so now to create these authentic relationships in person, get to know them as people, not only the soccer players they are, is amazing.
"When you get to see Kevin Kampl or Diego Demme up close and see the quality they have, it's surreal. We have two 19/20 year old centre backs who are some of the best in the league right now, it's great to see them and now create this relationship where they're like, 'do you want to grab food to eat' and want to hang out away from the pitch and the training facility.
"Now it is nice to have an English kid here, like Emile Smith Rowe from Arsenal, who has been a great guy and I'm excited to work with him. There are so many young guys in the team that everyone gets along so well, you don't have such a family-orientated locker room that often, where everyone is on the same page and everyone gets along."
bundesliga.com: What is your impression of the Hoffenheim team?
Adams: "Ahead of the Hoffenheim game, it's always an exciting match. I think we played them twice, because we played them in the cup as well, I believe, and getting two victories is always nice, to move up the standings and beat a high quality team. The style of play they play is very similar to ours, with a pressing mentality, second balls and they're a feisty team, so it will be an exciting match and hopefully one I can be a part of."
bundesliga.com: What has been the biggest culture clash so far?
Adams: "For me, the biggest culture clash so far has been having to stay up until 3am to watch the Super Bowl, but I think that in all due time I'll get used to everything here. The food is a little bit different and getting used to things like that, the language barrier, but everything has been so great so far."
bundesliga.com: What do you miss the most?
Adams: "Outside of friends and family, I would have to say the food. I love the food in America, getting a home-cooked meal from my mom is the best, so I can't wait to have her out here."