Germany’s teenage sensation Jamal Musiala on Monday credited his England youth period for helping him develop his creative game that has quickly turned him into one of the rising stars of the sport.
The 19-year-old, following a stellar season start with Bayern Munich where he scored nine goals and delivered six assists so far, is expected to be Germany’s conductor in attack, operating between central midfield and the front line. His pace, passing, creative play and scoring ability have quickly drawn comparisons with other big names, with former Germany captain Lothar Matthaeus drawing parallels to Argentina great Lionel Messi.
“I think a comparison with Messi is something like an honour,” Musiala told a news conference. “He has played at the top level for so long and to be compared with him is a bit difficult. I just focus on me and what I can do better as Jamal and keep going.”
‘Play with freedom’
Few would have thought just two years ago that Musiala, with his light frame, medium height and innocent demeanour, that earned him the nickname ‘Bambi’, would become one of the key Germany players for the 2022 World Cup.
Musiala cut his teeth in England as a youngster, running through the national youth system all the way to the England Under-21 but then opted to play for his country of birth, dealing a massive blow to coach Gareth Southgate’s senior England team. He has, however, been carrying one piece of advice he got from his English coaches that has helped him become the player he is today. “I think in England you learn different things than in Germany. I took a lot with me. They used to say ‘play with freedom’,” he said.
“This is something I took with me in my career and this will remain with me.”
He will have a chance to show it on the biggest stage on Wednesday when the Germans kick off their Group E campaign against Japan. They also play Spain and Costa Rica and are eager to make amends for their 2018 shock first-round exit.
“We have the quality to go far in this tournament,” Musiala said. “We all go in with the mindset that we can win the title. We are well prepared and raring to go.”