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Bayern Munich’s Joshua Kimmich on leadership and the captaincy

Like everything else in his life, Kimmich’s new role in squad leadership is a commitment he treats with dedication.

Kimmich shakes hands with Sadio Mané during an August 12 training session.
“When you shake hands, you look into each other’s eyes” — Thomas Tuchel.
Photo by A. Beier/Getty Images for FC Bayern

After Robert Lewandowski’s departure in the summer transfer window, Bayern Munich had a vacancy in the captaincy — and veteran midfielder Joshua Kimmich was tapped to fill it. The iron-willed midfield maestro embodies the club’s Mia san Mia motto with every fiber of his being, and through his leadership by example over the years, it might have felt like he’d been captain forever already.

It’s certainly a moment he has been consciously working towards, as Kimmich shared in an interview with Tz from before the season. We’ve been picking it up in bits and pieces and continue today with Kimmich’s thoughts on leadership and his new role as the team’s third captain — behind Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller.

“I actually have books about [leadership]”, Kimmich said. “Not consciously [for his promotion to captain], but because the subject interests me in general. The fact that I’ve been promoted to third captain is a nice thing, but not decisive for me now. But it has made me realize I’ve been here for seven years and have worn the FC Bayern jersey the third longest after Manu and Thomas — together with Kingsley Coman. That’s not something you can take for granted at a club like Bayern Munich.”

Indeed, Kimmich and Coman — who last spring was promoted to the team’s leadership council — came to Bayern in the same class, in what seems like forever ago now. Of course, Neuer and Müller have been at Bayern since time immemorial, ere e’en the dawning of mankind, and were naturally there in 2015/16 to welcome the newcomers who are now titans in the team.

This year it’s a new class of newcomers arriving at the Säbener Straße, and players like Kimmich upon whom it falls to bestow the company culture. It’s a big crop, with established veterans like Sadio Mané alongside younger players like Ryan Gravenberch and Noussair Mazraoui and future defensive leader Matthijs de Ligt.

“I try to integrate newcomers well and, above all, deal with the big picture,” he said. “Not just with my own performance. Of course, that always has to be the basis, but it’s very important that the whole team plays well and is a good unit. That has already shifted over the years and through my own development.

“Of course, you always want to win, but in the beginning, as a young player, you’re already busy with yourself because you’re fighting for your place. Especially as a youngster, you’re always under scrutiny. Once you get a regular spot and take on responsibility, it’s more and more about making sure the team performs well. That’s something that I enjoy and that I like to deal with.”

Kimmich has set the tone with his immaculate personal standards of play, and has offered plenty of encouragement and praise for his new team-mates. He’s poised to take the torch lit by past legends, from Phillip Lahm onto Thomas Müller down. And if the next gen is able to take his cue, Bayern will be in good hands for years and years to come.

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