A European champion at Under-19 level two years ago, Joshua Kimmich has impressed for Germany's seniors at UEFA EURO 2016 and wants his successors to follow that example.
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Joshua Kimmich has enjoyed a spectacular rise since helping Germany win the 2014 UEFA European Under-19 Championship. After a superb first season with Bayern München in 2015/16, the 21-year-old was rewarded with a place in Joachim Löw's UEFA EURO 2016 squad, less than a fortnight after making his senior international debut. The defensive midfielder has taken the step up in his stride, and credits the U19 competition as a significant part in his development.
How did it feel to win the Under-19 title in Hungary?
It was a great experience. It has helped me in my personal development to have played in such a fantastic EURO. It's nice to win a trophy with your club but it is special to win something for your country.
Germany beat Portugal 1-0 in the final. What do you remember about that match?
When the final whistle blew and the players ran onto the pitch some of us just fell on the ground. That was the best feeling, knowing we were European champions.
Can you describe how playing in that tournament helped you grow as a player?
It's a European Championship, and people recognise that. There are many players in the current national team who were successful in the youth sides. It's a title that stays with you forever. We all feel more confident because of it.
What advice would you give this Germany U19 team?
Every young player should take advantage of having the chance to play in a tournament like this – and, of course, should try to win the title for Germany. You never know how many European or world championships you will be able to play in your career, so if you get the chance you should give your all.
What do you think is the biggest challenge players face at U19 level?
It's the transition period from youth to senior football – the most difficult step. Tournaments like these are good, because you compete at an international level and find out where you stand.
Are you surprised how quickly things have moved for you since that tournament?
I managed to help Leipzig get promoted to the second division. Then the transfer to Bayern – well, that doesn't happen very often. I am not surprised, but looking back you could say that it's gone pretty fast.
Is there a particular player at Bayern you look up to?
You learn something every day. David Alaba is a very complete player. He is 24, he can play almost any position and he has a lot of skill. Thiago Alcântara can do things with the ball that are just incredible. You can't learn that. Then there are players like Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Thomas Müller, all with a lot of experience. To see how they deal with certain situations is really special.
Pep Guardiola was full of praise for you. What was it like working with him?
He's a coach who gives special attention to tactics. You are challenged mentally in every training session. He expects a lot from his players. That is how you develop.
You were born in Rottweil in southern Germany, near where this tournament is being held. What can the fans expect this summer?
It will be exciting for the fans to see how the German youth system is developing, and to see players who might be known by everybody in a few years' time. They will be great matches.