Mats Hummels is only 29 years old, yet sounds like an aged veteran. In soccer years, of course, when the twilight of a career comes in one's thirties, Hummels rapidly approaching the status of an elder. With the German national team, Hummels has been a starter since the 2012 Euro campaign. It is thus with some authority that he criticized the attitude of the latest generation of German international players after the waves made by the surprise cut of Manchester City's 22-year-old Leroy Sané from the national team.
Asked whether young stars today are praised too highly too soon to their detriment, Hummel did not mince words:
I say: Yes! I was always the youngest in my cohort and carried the goals. That's simply how it should be. It's quite striking that often now an 18-year-old doesn't understand why he now has to do that.
When Hummels first arrived on the scene, joining Bayern's first team in 2007/8, he kept his mouth shut and only talked to his friends from Bayern II:
For the first few weeks, I didn't say a word in the Bayern locker room and only talked to Stephan Fürstner and Michael Rensing, because I knew them from the amateurs. For all the others, I maybe was bold enough to say hello. Now it goes more quickly, so that after just a week someone acts as if he's been on the team three years.
Hummels views the old-school locker-room hierarchy as a rite of passage for young players who must earn their status on a team, and he gives a glimpse at how that might play out behind the scenes:
Maybe it's fair to question it, but somehow it's also how it should be. You know that you first have to fight for your place. I mean, earlier the youngsters weren't even allowed on the massage table if someone else had an appointment!
In the wake of Leroy Sané’s surprising cut from the national team, one wonders to what extent the Manchester City star’s conduct in the locker room may have contributed to Jogi Löw's difficult decision to send him home. Assistant Coach Miroslav Klose, who will coach Bayern's U17 team after the 2018 World Cup, explained that Sané “couldn't light it up with us like he does in the Premier League.” In Klose's view, Löw's decision was not against Sané, “but rather for Julian [Brandt].”
The theme of camaraderie and team spirit was also not far from his mind:
We have to manage to create a positive team spirit like we did in Campo Bahia in 2014. We had a fantastic atmosphere there.
Klose also praised Sané's reaction, which he found “incredibly nice.”
Danke euch allen für die aufmunternden Nachrichten gestern und heute. Klar bin ich enttäuscht darüber, dass ich nicht bei der WM dabei bin. Ich muss diese Entscheidung aber akzeptieren und werde alles dafür tun, noch stärker zurückzukommen ⚽ Dem @DFB_Team wünsche ich natürlich trotzdem viel Erfolg in Russland. Holt euch den Titel! // Thank you so much everyone for your encouraging messages yesterday and today. I'm obviously disappointed I won't participate in the World Cup but I have to accept this decision and I'll give it my all to bounce back stronger ⚽ Nothing but the best of success to the @dfb_team in Russia. Go get that title! #LS19 #inSané
Fun fact: Mats Hummels made his senior team debut for Germany in a friendly against Malta on May 13, 2010. He came on in the 46th minute as a substitute for none other than Serdar Tasci! His erstwhile friend in the Bayern locker room, Stephan Fürstner, incidentally, just spurned 1860 München and may return to play for Bayern II (TZ).