In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com ahead of Saturday's mouthwatering clash with VfL Wolfsburg, the 19-year-old reveals how Leverkusen's 'Little Pea' has settled in and explains how he feels about facing his boyhood club on Matchday 11.
bundesliga.com: Diego was your childhood idol. Leverkusen newcomer Javier Hernandez is also a pretty big name in world football. What kind of guy is ‘Chicharito’?
Julian Brandt: Chicha is a quiet guy, as you are when you're new to a group. Not everyone who's been around the block - playing for Real Madrid and Manchester United among others - wants to be bothered with the youngsters. That's definitely not the case with him, though. He's really open, sincere and, last but not least, a fantastic footballer. He's already scored in all competitions and there's a lot you can learn from him.
bundesliga.com: Not that many Mexicans have played in the Bundesliga. Have you had a taste of the Mexican way of life?
Brandt: On Thursday, our regeneration session after the DFB Cup game against Viktoria Köln, Chicha played me a Mexican song when we were on the exercise machines. It was pretty decent. Apart from hip-hop, I like to listen to Spanish, Latin American and Brazilian music.
bundesliga.com: Chicharito has a wealth of international experience. If you didn't know that he's made over 70 international and 35 Champions League appearances, would you be able to tell in training?
Brandt: That's hard to say. There are definitely times when a top player with a lot of international experience comes to a new club, but then for whatever reason it doesn't work out for him. No one can explain it. That’s why I don't know whether I would be looking at Chicha like that without knowing his name and career. What I do know - that is what I'm seeing - is that Chicha is a really classy player, who's doing what he does really well for us.
bundesliga.com: At the weekend, you face your old club and youth team VfL Wolfsburg. Is it a bit of sentimental occasion for you?
Brandt: I do think feelings come into play. After all, I spent two-and-a-half years at Wolfsburg, trained a lot with the first team and got to know a lot of the lads there. So it's definitely fair to say that it's a special game for me.
bundesliga.com: The game promises much, doesn't it, with Bayer putting on a real show in recent matches and there being nine goals in the last meeting in Leverkuen between the sides?
Brandt: Of course, anything can happen. A dull 1-0 win would do for us (laughs). No, seriously: I'm sure it'll be a very good game of football because it's a meeting between two top sides. We definitely want to win, though, to leapfrog Wolfsburg in the standings. That’d be a great omen for the game against AS Roma in the Champions League next week.
bundesliga.com: Leverkusen have shown they can overcome big setbacks in recent games. However, they have been big setbacks…
Brandt: I think that's just a snapshot. There have been periods not that long ago when we've gone five or six games without conceding. Maybe we'll start another run in Wolfsburg without conceding.
bundesliga.com: Attack-minded types like you must have more fun in a game that ends 5-4 rather than one that finishes 1-0…
Brandt: Of course (grins). I actually think crazy games like the one against VfB Stuttgart are really good for team morale. You're trailing 2-0 and then 3-1, but still turn the game around. It's a great feeling. And after the game you think, "These lads are fantastic. That was a huge team performance!". As long as we score more goals than we concede, all's well in the world.