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Coach Julian Nagelsmann on Germany's ambitions, being hosts and EURO memories - interview

"There is pressure involved, but more so joy," says Julian Nagelsmann as he prepares to lead hosts Germany into action at UEFA EURO 2024.

Nagelsmann: 'It's my job to be successful'

Just 36 when he took over as Germany coach in September 2023, Julian Nagelsmann already has immense footballing experience. While injury ended his hopes of a playing career earlier, the Bavarian-born technician threw himself into management, taking charge of first side Hoffenheim when he was just 28 before gaining UEFA Champions League experience with both Leipzig and Bayern, with whom he won the Bundesliga in 2021/22.

Every team's EURO 2024 fixtures

A master of the counter-press, Nagelsmann likes to see his sides play positive, attacking football, and has accepted the challenge of leading Germany as hosts at UEFA EURO 2024. A round of 16 exit at EURO 2020 was disappointing for fans, while Germany did not make it beyond the group stage at the last two World Cups, but as the finals approach, Nagelsmann knows his side have it in them to win this competition for the first time since 1996.

On watching Germany win EURO '96 as an eight-year-old

1996, of course: I know Oliver Bierhoff, with the golden goal, which was historic. As a child, when you were an enthusiastic footballer yourself, it was usually the case that you watched the games, and then you left within the first half and tried to do the things that your idols did on the pitch yourself.

Watch Bierhoff's EURO '96 winner for Germany

You played football in the garden with your siblings or friends. Of course, we always followed the players, even as a child. I consciously followed the 1998 World Cup: I remember that well. There were quite a few games. But it almost always led to me getting my football boots on as quickly as possible, even before the end of the game, and wanting to kick the ball myself. I tried to put the things that I saw on TV into practice.

On his favourite EURO memory

Like I said, Bierhoff's golden goal [in the 1996 final] was historic. That's a great memory for me. Of course, recent memories of the EURO are not so good from a German perspective, that's also clear. In the end, it always depends a bit on where you are in your job and how much focus you have on your own team. I hope that the memories I'll have of EURO 2024 in a few years' time will be very positive.

Germany play hosts at EURO 2024
Germany play hosts at EURO 2024AFP via Getty Images

On the challenges of being an international coach

It's more complicated to change things compared to when you're a club manager. You need to talk a lot with your staff, you need to talk to individual players, at the right moment, so it really sinks in. You have to give the messages to the players at the right time, so it has a real effect on the team.

You have to watch lots of games, think about what you want from each position and also think about which players fit these positions based on how they are playing for their clubs. You have to question who fits well in the squad and who we need in order to be more successful. There are lots of considerations that are made behind the scenes that the public don't notice because we don't see each other in training every day and we're not on-site all the time.

Nagelsmann on Germany's EURO test

On his ambitions for EURO 2024

The normal ambition: we want to win it. It's the same in all other tournaments. It's probably not best for us to make this big claim that we're going to become European champions. I think it's the same for every country that participates, otherwise they wouldn't put in the work to qualify. Every team that gets into the tournament has the idea of winning it.

And of course, we also have the idea of winning it. If we give it our all, it can happen. Lots of things have to come together, as is the case for all teams. It's not a sure thing for any team. There is already the expectation that we will do better than we have in recent years, and our fans are excited to have the tournament on home soil.

We will face up to the task. It is a huge task, it will be challenging, and it's certainly not a chance that comes around very often. It's only the second time Germany has hosted a European Championship. For the players, and for myself as a manager, to take part in a tournament on home soil is a unique opportunity. There is pressure involved, but more so joy. If we can see that joy on the pitch, then we will have a great tournament.

Friendly highlights: Germany 2-1 Netherlands

On what to expect in Germany

It's always a great opportunity on a national-team level to put aside the animosity, which of course exists within Germany between clubs too, and for everyone to support Germany. Of course, the fans of the other participating teams should take part too, have fun and enjoy their stay in Germany, and turn the streets into big peaceful party zones, where European teams can celebrate football together and hopefully watch lots of good games.