Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn has rightly been earning plaudits in the Bundesliga in recent weeks and months. The Billy Goats may still be propping up the rest of the division, but their 24-year-old talisman has stopped a league-high 80 shots, and there are calls for him to be included in Joachim Löw’s final 23-man squad for the FIFA World Cup this summer.
bundesliga.com caught up with the Olympic silver medallist recently to get his thoughts on where his talent might take him…
bundesliga.com: Timo Horn, did you have a goalkeeping role model growing up?
Timo Horn: My idol was actually always Edwin van der Saar [the former Manchester United and Netherlands No.1]. It was the 1998 World Cup, which wasn’t so good for Germany [Die Nationalmannschaft lost to Croatia in the quarter-finals], that first piqued my interest in football. For some reason that I can’t remember, I really wanted to play in goal from then on. Luckily the goalkeeper from our village club wanted to play outfield and we swapped. It was a happy coincidence.
Watch: Germany, home of the world's best goalkeepers
bundesliga.com: Who do you think are the best German goalkeepers?
Horn: I’ve known [Bernd] Leno and [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen since my youth team days and they’ve always stood out. It was always clear that they would succeed. Manuel Neuer is a bit older than me, so I’ve not known him for so long. When he’s fit, he’s one of a kind, though. He’s also kept improving in recent years. These are the three that I see as being out in front for Germany. It’s up to me to get to their level.
bundesliga.com: What about goalkeeping in other countries?
Horn: I think England creates a very special set of circumstances for goalkeepers. Even for [David] de Gea, it wasn’t easy for him to adjust. You have to be very stable to maintain your place there. Generally, you play more games and have to keep your mental level consistently high. That’s very demanding for a goalkeeper. In Spain more emphasis is put on playing the ball with your feet, which suits ter Stegen. He’s also changed his game a bit to adapt, and is less risky than he once was. Of course, his experience in the national team also helps him - that's why he’s very solid.
bundesliga.com: What do you think your national team chances are? Have you booked a summer holiday or is the World Cup in Russia in the back of your mind?
Horn: You can forget about a holiday (laughs)! Of course, it’s always my goal to reach that circle of players at some point, but my focus right now is 100 per cent on Cologne’s situation so I’m not thinking too much about the national team. So much can happen between now and the World Cup. I can only do my best in the Bundesliga and then we’ll see if it’s enough.
Horn was speaking to Florian Reinecke