Close to the Anderlecht fans because "they love their club the same way I do", 19-year-old Youri Tielemans is nonetheless determined to prove he is "good enough to play at a higher level".
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At 19, attacking midfielder Youri Tielemans has already played 29 UEFA competition games for his boyhood club, but while the Brussels side will always be close to his heart, he is determined to stretch himself with a move abroad.
Could you tell us about the environment you grew up in?
Youri Tielemans: I started playing for Anderlecht when I was five. I came through the club's youth ranks. I have always lived here and my father is also a fan. Playing for Anderlecht was a dream and it has come true. I am close to the fans here because almost all of the fans come from Brussels and they love their club the same way I do.
It's always a great feeling to score a goal, pure and simple. But scoring here, at this stadium, is such a pleasure because when I watched other players score when I was younger, I always hoped I would do the same one day – and now I have. When you've grown up here and lived here, there's a real sense of it being a family. You feel as though they have faith in the young players who have the talent to make the breakthrough.
You have achieved a lot at 19; how have you coped with the pressure?
Tielemans: I think you have to stay modest and be yourself. I don't really feel the pressure. I know people expect a lot from me but I ask a lot of myself as I know I am good enough to play at a higher level. I have to improve my fitness in the hope I can move to a bigger league in the future. I enjoy making quality passes – I like attractive football – but I know I have to work harder sometimes.
You are playing in the most attacking position of your career – does that suit you?
Tielemans: It's perfect! I always played as a No10 in the youth teams. I really learnt how to defend in the first team, because we were much better than our opponents at youth level, so didn't need to make that much effort to win the ball back in midfield.
You have a new coach this season in René Weiler. How has he been to work with?
Tielemans: Great – I feel really good. He has faith in me and the same goes for a lot of other players. He doesn't talk a lot, but we all know exactly what we have to do and what he expects from us, and I think that puts us in the right conditions to play well. He's the manager, so he can't deal with everyone individually. That's more a job for the assistant coaches and they do that really well. So he keeps it very general, but he's always around.
The UEFA Europa League campaign is going well so far – how far can Anderlecht go?
Tielemans: The aim for the moment is to make it past the group stage. After that we'll see, it will depend on who we end up being drawn against. My ambitions for the future? First and foremost I want to have a good season with Anderlecht. We want to finish as high as we can in the table. And I hope to be able to move, not straight away, but depending on how well our season goes, and if everything goes right for us.