Dortmund - When 21-year-old Jonas Hofmann entered the Borussia Dortmund fray in the 68th minute on Sunday, the score was 0-0. When his side left the field, it was to a standing ovation: Hofmann had scored his first Bundesliga goal and won a penalty to drag his side to a 2-1 victory and a precious three points.
After the match, the young midfielder shed some light on how it felt to score his first top-flight goal, his relationship with BVB head coach Jürgen Klopp and his team-mates and the next steps in his fledgling career.
Question: Jonas Hofmann, with your first Bundesliga goal you broke the deadlock against a resilient Eintracht Braunschweig side and helped Dortmund to three points. Is this the happiest you’ve ever been on a football pitch?
Jonas Hofmann: Scoring my first Bundesliga goal right in front of the Südtribune is definitely one of the best things that could happen to me and the fact it was such an important goal made it even sweeter. It actually came as something of a relief after our attempts to break down Braunschweig’s well-organised defence were all in vain.
Question: What went through your head as you struck the ball? The angle was pretty sharp for an effort on goal…
Hofmann: Honestly, when I shot I didn’t think it would go in, but I saw the goalkeeper's positioning and tried to put the ball through his legs. And although I didn’t quite manage that, luckily it hit the inside of the post and made its way over the line.
Question: Up until the middle of the second half the game was a frustrating one for Dortmund, who were unable to make their chances count. How did you feel when the coach [Jürgen Klopp] sent you on? You looked remarkably relaxed…
Hofmann: I wasn’t relaxed, I assure you! When you come off the bench at 0-0, you want to be the one to make the difference for your side. I think we were lacking a touch of conviction in front of goal, and I saw my role as reminding the team that we had to win and a victory was still on.
Question: Quite how different does the Bundesliga feel compared to the third tier with Dortmund’s U-23s?
Hofmann: You can’t even compare it - a full stadium with 80,000 people watching, that makes a real impression. The interest surrounding it is so much bigger, and obviously you’ve got to up your level as a footballer to be able to compete. When you’re surrounded by players as talented as we’ve got in this Dortmund side it makes things a little bit easier. You can play so easily with them.
Question: Last season you were on the fringes of the first team, but this campaign you’ve been able to make the step up. How do you explain that?
Hofmann: Playing with the U-23s in the third division last season was hugely important. For any young player being able to play 90 minutes regularly is vital. Pre-season was also influential because it was such hard work all the time. If your motivation and attitude are correct, you can develop so quickly at this club.
Question: Your story is a bit of a fairytale, Bundesliga debut, Germany U-21s, first Bundesliga goal. What’s next?
Hofmann: I’m most pleased that I now feel like I belong at this level. Mats Hummels described me as the fourth new signing, along with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang which is flattering, and shows the esteem in which my team-mates hold me. Next is more hard work in preparation for Werder Bremen on Friday.
Question: Surely you want to start pushing for a starting berth?
Hofmann: I’m not here to make outlandish claims. Before the season, my aim was to establish myself on the right behind Kuba [Jakub Blaszczykowski]. Maybe when that’s done I can start looking to push towards the first team. I’m certainly not the type to try and impose myself upon people with what I say, I’m not going to go and claim “look, I should start now” after one good performance. I know that in training and on the pitch I’ll work hard and let my football do the talking.