Kimmich on his meteroric ascent for Bayern and Germany
Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Joshua Kimmich plots his remarkable rise from the German third tier to the upper echelons of the game, and the hunger for knowledge that has fuelled it.
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Has anybody had a better start to the season than Joshua Kimmich?
This time last year the youngster was just about breaking into the Bayern side; fast-forward 12 months and he is firmly established for club and country, with a major international tournament under his belt. The 21-year-old grabbed his first goal for Germany last month and, having waited 39 games for his first Bayern strike, he now has seven in nine. So where did it all go right?
Kimmich began his career at Stuttgart but it was a 2013 move to Leipzig (back when they were in the third tier) that initiated his ascent. He quickly became a fixture as the team were promoted, then had a season in the 2. Bundesliga.
It was important to find my feet in senior football. It's a completely different game to the top flight, a game based a bit more on fight and desire. There's not so much technical football. It was extremely important to get used it, to the toughness.
Everything with the seniors, training included, was all very different and a higher tempo to youth football. It was good to grow step by step, first in the third tier, then in the second, and then on to Bayern.
The switch to Bayern came in summer 2015, and though he admits it was a huge step up, Kimmich immediately made an impression, with Josep Guardiola noting how curious he was. He soaked everything up like a sponge.
When I first arrived, I knew I was a long way behind everyone else in terms of quality. I really had to adapt. In every training session I was learning – I still am.
With your team-mates you ask questions, get tips, and then implement them. It's very important to always push myself to my limits. You need to keep your eyes and ears open and try to learn and implement as much as you possibly can.
Kimmich's development was reflected on the pitch. He ended the campaign with a domestic treble and a place in Germany's UEFA EURO 2016 squad. He started those finals on the bench before coming in for the third match at right-back. He shone, earning a spot in the team of the tournament and comparisons with Philipp Lahm.
He's a role model for me. There are very few players in world football who show the same level of consistency as Philipp. I can't think of three bad performances from him, and that's a quality not many players have. Players are always judged on their bad games, and in Philipp's case there are almost none.
Increasingly the same is true of Kimmich. This term Carlo Ancelotti has handed him a more attacking role and he is playing like he has never known any different. But don't let the ease on the field fool you: it has taken plenty of effort.
My adaptability is a mixture of discipline and instinct. I'm a footballer and I just love being out there on the pitch – it's not as if it's not important to me, but the position I play is of secondary importance.
I don't think I'm ever going to become the perfect striker, but I will try any position and give 100%, and take something away from it too. To a certain extent, every position requires you to do different things, and you can learn a lot. It helps you become a more complete player.
Bayern's rivals, be warned.