Joshua Kimmich would like to play Manuel Neuer at tennis more often. The Bayern Munich teammates have only met once on the court, with the club captain prevailing, much to Kimmich's chagrin.
"Manu seems to serve from a different floor of a building," Kimmich told Bild, referencing the Bayern goalkeeper's height. "The ball comes down so quickly, that sometimes I could barely see it. During our only game – when we were on international duty with Germany – he just kept playing backhands and then attacking the net. He's so big it's really tough to get the ball past him."
Jokes about Neuer getting unusually close to the net aside, it is little wonder that Kimmich remembers the details of the loss so vividly. A Bayern and Germany cornerstone already, the 22-year-old is not accustomed to tasting defeat – and when he does, he takes it as badly as he always has done.
Watch: check out all of Kimmich's goals and assists in Bayern colours!
"I just can't take losing," Kimmich said. "Once, when my dad was coach of our team in a youth tournament, he gave everyone in the team the same amount of playing time. I went mad because I always wanted to play. When we lost, I just ran off crying."
It did not take Kimmich too long to forgive his father, Berthold, the man he admits has played an influential role in his rise to a player now at the top of the world game with club and country.
"We work off the same page really," said Kimmich, already a two-time Bundesliga winner. "I've got a ridiculous amount to thank him for. If he says nothing after a game, then I know I haven't played well. Even today, if I don't make the most of a good chance, he'll tell me that I used to be more clinical in front of goal, and that I'd score with my left and right foot."
Kimmich's father was not his only role model, however. There were on-pitch heroes, too, some of whom will be music to the ears of Bayern fans, others perhaps less so.
While often compared to Philipp Lahm, whose right-back role Kimmich is reprising with increasing authority for both the domestic and world champions, the Rottweil native admits that it was another Bayern star he looked up to when growing up.
"Xavi Hernandez and Bastian Schweinsteiger [were role models]," said Kimmich. "Although my first shirt was Borussia Dortmund's Tomas Rosicky. I also really liked Krasimir Balakov [a two-footed attacking midfielder who finished fourth at the 1994 FIFA World Cup with Bulgaria and played for VfB Stuttgart between 1995 and 2003]."
Watch: Kimmich scored October's Goal of the Month with a deft flick!
Despite Kimmich's age and the nagging feeling that he has already been around forever, it has been a long journey to reach the same club as Schweinsteiger. Then 18 and a central midfielder, Kimmich left boyhood club Stuttgart for RB Leipzig on the hunt for first-team football in 2013, making 26 appearances in the third tier in 2013/14 as the Easterners secured promotion to Bundesliga 2.
"The move to Leipzig really helped [my career]," said Kimmich. "You learn how to play grown-up football in the second and third divisions. It's not two-touch Tiki-Taka football at that level; it's really intense and physical. Knowing how to look after yourself – something I learned back then – really helps me to this day."
After impressing as Leipzig finished fifth in the second tier in 2014/15, Bayern swooped in January 2015, agreeing a deal for Kimmich – who had caught Pep Guardiola's eye – to move to the Allianz Arena that summer.