Silas Wamangituka has made a devastating impact on the Bundesliga, with eight goals in his debut season in Germany's top flight showing that scoring is part of his DNA.
In an exclusive bundesliga.com interview, the Stuttgart top-scorer shares his feelings about scoring in the Bundesliga, working under Pellegrino Matarazzo, and why former Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inspired his career choices.
bundesliga.com: You have already scored eight goals this season. Which was your favourite?
Silas Wamangituka: "This season? Against Mainz. Yeah, against Mainz. Gonzo played the ball into me and I hit it. The goalkeeper was beaten. He was expecting me to aim for the near post but I put it in the far corner."
bundesliga.com: Were the goals you scored against Dortmund special?
Wamangituka: "Definitely. They're one of the big clubs. It's always emotional when you score against big clubs like them. It always feels great to score against them."
bundesliga.com: Could you talk us through your goals against Dortmund, please?
Wamangituka: "At Dortmund, I scored a penalty first. And for the second one, we started to press them. I was pressing them high. At the same time, Orel stole the ball off them. I immediately made a run into the box and he passed it to me. I controlled it on my thigh and shot. That was my second goal."
Watch: Silas Wamangituka scores two as Stuttgart sweep Dortmund aside
bundesliga.com: You wear the number 14 shirt. Is that a special number for you?
Wamangituka: "Yes, it's. Lots of great players have worn the number 14. Some truly great players. That inspires me. The player who inspires me a lot is Aubameyang."
bundesliga.com: Your team has been very successful with Pellegrino Matarazzo as head coach. What is it like working with him? What sets him apart as a coach?
Wamangituka: "First of all, he's a good person. He gets on well with everyone. He's someone who has truly helped me a lot. Particularly on my positioning and my way of playing. And if I make a mistake, he talks me through it afterwards in training. He tells me what I need to do better. He's helping me a huge amount on my positioning and everything. I come from Africa and my tactical awareness wasn't that well developed. He explained all of that to me - how to position myself on the pitch. He has really helped me to adapt."
bundesliga.com: What is Matarazzo's most important characteristic?
Wamangituka: "His preparation for matches. The way he prepares us for games. We look at how the opposition play and their weaknesses that we can exploit. He does that very well and it helps us a lot as a team."
bundesliga.com: You are the youngest team in the league and have been called the 'young, wild ones'. What makes you so special as a team?
Wamangituka: "The fact that we listen. The fact that we are concentrated. We have some experienced players in the squad as well. They help us to reach the next level. They have played a lot of matches and so that helps."
bundesliga.com: How much potential do VfB Stuttgart have given their young squad?
Wamangituka: "We have to focus on maintaining our current level and we’ll see what happens in the future. We need to keep going."
bundesliga.com: You moved from Ligue 2 in France to a team in Germany that would go on to get promoted to the Bundesliga. Did you ever imagine you would be beating teams like Borussia Dortmund and fighting for European qualification?
Wamangituka: "In my head, I was always expecting it to be a difficult move. I was moving to a league that I didn't know. I needed to adapt first of all. I needed to adapt fully to the league and I knew it would be difficult. I never thought it would be easy for me. From the moment I arrived, I simply focused on working hard. If you work hard, the results follow."
bundesliga.com: What are the main differences between Ligue 2 in France and the Bundesliga?
Wamangituka: "It's just the level of work. I like working hard. If you work hard, you get your reward. I work very hard. I feel comfortable here. The group has been very welcoming. That has allowed me to adapt quickly on the pitch."
bundesliga.com: Is it harder to score goals in France or in Germany?
Wamangituka: "No, I would say it's much harder here in Germany than in France. The games are much easier in France. It's much harder here - everyone attacks and everyone defends. You have to work hard. I never worked as hard in games in France as I do now in Germany."
bundesliga.com: Lots of young players have joined the Bundesliga from France of late. Why is it that players like yourself, Marcus Thuram and Moussa Diaby have been able to make their breakthrough here in Germany?
Wamangituka: "It comes down to the individual's state of mind. I know myself and I'm someone who always has a positive outlook. Regardless of my situation or my difficulties, I always keep fighting."
bundesliga.com: How is the Bundesliga different from the various national leagues you have played in during your career?
Wamangituka: "Ligue 2 was calm. There was always lots of space. When I arrived here in Germany, I was forced to adapt. Players here are much more physical. I had to adapt defensively as well. I had to work very hard to adapt to the new league."
bundesliga.com: Did you follow the Bundesliga when you lived in DR Congo and in France?
Wamangituka: "Of course, yes. Everyone in Africa watches the big leagues. It's a league I've followed since I was a young boy. I always said to myself, 'why not develop in one of the big leagues like the Bundesliga?' I have always thought highly of it. I'm here today, and I had
to work hard to get here."
bundesliga.com: What memories do you have of your time as a young player starting your career?
Wamangituka: "In Africa, the pitches are not good. They're impractical, nothing like the ones here. We played in the sand. So it was difficult to control the ball. But when you put us in good conditions, we're able to really push on and develop as players. Because it's really difficult as a player in Africa. We played on mud; it was tough."
bundesliga.com: Who have been the key people in your professional journey as a footballer? How were you first scouted?
Wamangituka: "When I was in Africa, I saw Nicolas Anelka from time to time. My agent and my coach helped me as well. But when I first arrived in France from Africa, he [Anelka] was the first person to really tell me what I had to do to progress. He played a big role in my career and I am truly grateful for everything he did."
bundesliga.com: Who is your idol in football and why?
Wamangituka: "When I was really small, I watched Ronaldinho a lot. But as time went by, and as I started to play more and more myself, I looked up to Aubameyang."
bundesliga.com: How come you are so quick as a player and so dangerous in front of goal? Is it innate?
Wamangituka: "No, I haven't always been this quick. It's truly the result of hard work and putting in the effort all the time. That's how I became quick."
bundesliga.com: You are only 21 years of age and yet have made significant progress already as a player. What elements of your game would you like to improve?
Wamangituka: "In my head. And also my first touch is not great sometimes. That is where I need to improve."
bundesliga.com: The Congolese national team have become very interested in you following your performances this season. Do you dream of representing your country in an Africa Cup of Nations or even a World Cup?
Wamangituka: "I would say yes. For the moment, I am not focused on the national team – I am concentrated on the team here. And on putting in good performances here. I am not focused on the national team right now."
bundesliga.com: You face Borussia Mönchengladbach in your next game. What sort of match are you expecting?
Wamangituka: "We will stay concentrated. We know very well that the opposition are a big club. We will focus on putting in a good performance and on winning. That will allow us to progress up the table. So everyone is fully concentrated in training."
bundesliga.com: You have been named Bundesliga Rookie of the Month twice already (November and December). What does that mean to you?"
Wamangituka: "It's always nice to have your hard work recognised. But you can't stop there – you need to keep working hard. In the hope of picking up more awards in the future."
bundesliga.com: ""o what extent did your club help you in winning Rookie of the Month?
Wamangituka: "I would give all of these trophies to my team. Because it's thanks to them that I have these awards. I don't play by myself. They help me a great deal."
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