Ilkay Gündogan ran ahead in the light warm-up session. When national coach Hansi Flick gave the signal for a short break with his whistle, the triple champion juggled the ball and then threw it at the goal 20 meters away. The fact that this shot went over the top in sunny Frankfurt/Main was a gift.
For the mood test on Tuesday (8.45 p.m. / RTL) against Colombia in his hometown of Gelsenkirchen, the Manchester City captain brings what the faltering DFB selection is so lacking: he keeps winning. "I believe that I can bring a lot of positive energy and a certain calm to the game because of the past few weeks," said the 32-year-old on Monday during the DFB press conference in Frankfurt/Main. Because of the deserved time-out after the Champions League triumph with the Cityzens, Gündogan missed the sobering performances against Ukraine (3:3) and Poland (0:1).
Flick announced early on that the midfielder would definitely play in the Schalke Arena. Thus, at the end of this season, which was so successful for him, Gündogan has come full circle in his career. For SV Gelsenkirchen-Hessler he was already three years old "chasing every ball", said Gündogan. Almost three decades ago, it was hardly foreseeable that the path would lead from the "Pampers League" in the middle of the Ruhr area to the largest of all football stages.
"I owe a lot to the people there," said Gündogan. That's why he gave his old club a "small public viewing" for the final of the Champions League. As the captain of coach Pep Guardiola's star selection, Gündogan had also won the English championship and the FA Cup before beating Inter Milan 1-0. The national player decided the English Cup final in a 2-1 win against city rivals Manchester United with two goals.
Flick praises Gündogan
"He's someone who can play in any team," praised Flick. "A player who has a high quality, a very intelligent player and one who - important to me personally - is a fine person." Sports director Rudi Völler assured: "We are glad that we have him."
Unlike in the club, Gündogan has not yet risen to become the undisputed top performer in the DFB selection. It's not because of the appreciation within the team. Gündogan is a player who “absolutely helps every team and therefore also us,” said Robin Gosens. The Man City captain could be "huge added value as a leader", as a "very experienced player, as a player who has won a lot in his career and as a player who has had to deal with defeats".
The former Dortmund Bundesliga player will not publicly demand this leader status. "I know my strengths, don't make a big fuss out of it," said Gündogan. "I know what I can." He doesn't have to be the center of attention, he doesn't need the "recognition from outside" so much.
A look at the clubs that want to sign the 32-year-old also shows why this is the case. His contract in Manchester expires at the end of June. He is therefore free of charge and can choose his new employer. Guardiola would probably like to keep Gündogan, but FC Barcelona should also be very interested. There is no new stand, said the courted man. However, he will not return to BVB, despite a deep bond with the club. A move to the Bundesliga is not an issue in his current career phase.