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İlkay Gündoğan on Germany's once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – interview

Germany have not advanced beyond the last 16 since 2016 but, on home soil and blessed with quality, İlkay Gündoğan is confident the hosts can go far at UEFA EURO 2024.

Gündoğan looking to lead from the front

İlkay Gündoğan has won everything there is to win at club level, but on the international stage success has been matched by disappointment. A non-playing squad member at UEFA EURO 2012, he missed Germany's 2014 FIFA World Cup triumph and run to the EURO 2016 semi-finals through injury.

He has been ever-present in major finals since, though his nation have not advanced beyond the last 16 in that time. Now, with a tournament on home soil and progress under Julian Nagelsmann, the 33-year-old Barcelona midfielder is determined is to make the chance count at UEFA EURO 2024.

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On captaining Germany in a home EURO

It's a huge honour, a huge privilege to be captain. I have experienced an awful lot in my career, lots of great times but also lots of difficult times. I kind of know what it takes to be successful. All I can do is lead from the front, both on and off the pitch. I think the people of Germany – not just the fans – deserve some success.

On why Germany can go beyond the round of 16 at a major tournament for the first time since 2016

We're confident. We're very well set up, full of quality and there's lots of potential in the squad; we just have to deliver now. We haven't done ourselves justice in recent tournaments.

We hope this time that we benefit somewhat from the euphoria in our home country and the support of the fans, and that this carries us along. But we know we first have to earn the trust of our fans on the pitch. If we do, I think we will go a long way.

Meet the teams: Germany

On what has changed in eight months under Julian Nagelsmann 

He has brought structure to the team. He has clear ideas about what he wants but still, there is a calmness about how the coaching team deals with the squad, and there's a sense that they have confidence in the players, which reflects well on us.

We knew that not everything would go perfectly, we knew we would make mistakes, but we have always felt that the coach was right behind the team. We have the right set-up and are capable of producing our best, to pay back the confidence he has in us.

On expectations from Friday's opening match against Scotland

Playing a EURO in your own country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so obviously it feels really special. We know also it'll be a tough game against Scotland. They have a lot of quality, lots of stars from the Premier League, so it's going to be a challenge but we are confident.

We know our qualities and the potential of the squad. If we perform, if the fans also behind us, we can create a special atmosphere on the opening day and hopefully get the three points.

Highlights: Watch winning EURO hosts

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