At just 22-years-old Timo Werner is Germany’s first-choice striker at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The RB Leipzig No.11 has been described as the world champions’ undiscovered star, but the only thing on his mind is the team, scoring, and being part of a golden generation.
Werner only made his Germany debut in March 2017 during Lukas Podolski’s final game for his country in a 1-0 win over England. Since then, though, he has scored eight times in 14 international appearances and has become the leading light in Joachim Löw’s first-choice World Cup line-up.
But being Germany’s biggest attacking hope is not something that bothers the Stuttgart-born striker. The young gun with 47 goals in 158 Bundesliga appearances to his name who, after stating that his best ever 100-metre time was recorded at 10.9 seconds, will be one of the most lethal weapons at the tournament.
“I'll just go full throttle from the start,” Werner told German website Sportbuzzer. “Whether I’m Germany's greatest bearer of hope in attack, I don’t think about that at all. I just want to be involved, score as many goals as possible, and play the biggest part in making us world champions in the end.”
No team has successfully defended a World Cup title since Brazil in 1962, having won four years earlier in 1958. But that is Germany’s only aim after winning their fourth star in 2014, and the only one that will satisfy this generation of talent’s need and desire to make the most of what they have here and now.
“That's our goal and I know I can help the team and keep up with it,” Werner explained. “It’s a great opportunity to take advantage of this abundance of super players and get as many titles as we can. You never know if such a swing of great players will come again in the next 10 years. Of course we should try to make the best possible use of this phase.
Watch: Germany's golden generation!
“It’s a huge strength of us Germans to get together in such moments and not to look at ourselves individually, but to the team and the country we play for. We have a great team - very young but experienced. We have some world-class players and the mix is perfect. We’re among the big favourites.”
Among those favourites alongside Germany, for Werner, is England. The old enemy have only played in one World Cup final, beating West Germany in 1966, but Germany’s leading man believes that with a world-class talent of their own, England are a threat to be wary of.
“They have a good mix, like us, and a great striker with Harry Kane, who can always make the difference,” Werner said when asked for his dark horse of the tournament. “And under Gareth Southgate they’ve also strengthened defensively, which we noticed in the 0-0 in Wembley (in November 2017). Even if they have landed in a nicer group, I trust them a lot, they should start with a bang.”
Watch: The Timo Werner story!
Something that may set Werner and his Germany teammates apart from the rest is an unmatched team spirit on and off the pitch. Most of the squad was either in Brazil four years ago, or grew up playing together through the German youth teams to reach this point. With rivalries put to one side, Werner says the team will come first.
“I think it's the great art of avoiding cabin fever,” Werner explained. “That you don’t give each other grief and think ‘I’ve now been on the bench five times and that guy next to me has played – I’ll get him in training’. That can happen in teams with even the best team spirit. But we have so many experienced players and we understand each other so well that I don’t really see that danger."