RB Leipzig star Timo Werner said he is hoping to make 2018, "the best year of my life," by helping Germany to retain their FIFA World Cup crown in Russia.
Following on from his impressive debut season with Saxony-based side Leipzig - in which he scored 21 goals in 31 Bundesliga games during the team's maiden top-flight campaign - Werner has been producing the goods for club and country once again this term.
An impressive 19 goals and eight assists in 39 club matches across all competitions have helped Ralph Hasenhüttl's men to maintain their challenge for what would be a second successive top four finish in the Bundesliga, all the while hunting for glory in the UEFA Europa League.
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Indeed, the former Stuttgart striker's progress has been so immense, he has, at just 22, emerged as Germany's leading marksman ahead of this summer's World Cup finals. Just four years ago, Werner was combining school with a prolific first senior season at VfB and has fond memories of cheering on the national team as they stormed to World Cup glory following a memorable tournament in Brazil.
"I was with my friends, watching the game and just thinking ‘please win, please win!’" he told FourFourTwo magazine. "Everybody’s part of it when Germany win – everybody says ‘we won the World Cup.’ Four years ago I said it like that, but this year I hope my friends will be watching the tournament without me.”
Bar an untimely injury, Werner's hopes will be realised in the coming months. Proving himself more than capable of producing the goods at a major international tournament, the fearsome forward collected the Golden Boot as Joachim Löw's charges triumphed at last summer's FIFA Confederations Cup. In all, the Leipzig supremo has racked up seven goals in 12 games for Die Mannschaft to date.
“If it turns out that I’m the main striker for Germany at the World Cup, there’s no pressure for me. I’m very young and I just try to enjoy the moment," he said. “To imagine winning the World Cup in 2018… it would be the best year of my life," Werner added in his interview with FourFourTwo.
In fact, Werner is still so fresh faced, he's young enough to remember his school days while starring at Stuttgart, when the younger students would ask him for autographs and teachers looked to chat with him about his former club's games, which was not something that filled the humble striker with joy back then. Preferring to focus on his studies and just being a regular character around the school halls, Werner is anything but a regular guy now, with the focus of a nation set to fall on his shoulders.
Germany will go into the June, July showpiece as favourites to retain their world crown, and with Leipzig's sharp shooter leading the attack line, will be a fearsome prospect at the tournament. Realising the task at hand will not be straightforward, Werner believes that the four-time winners can nonetheless join Brazil as the tournament's most successful team.
"I think we have a good chance of doing it, even if it will be extremely difficult," he said. "We have a great team, we have a really good mentality and we’re a tournament team – we save our best for the major competitions.”