Bayern Munich’s Leon Goretzka has always been a leading man. But in arriving at a club like FC Bayern nearly five years ago, all of his qualities were put to the test — and it’s been an opportunity for growth. In a recent interview for FCBayern.com, Goretzka, now older and wiser, reflected on his experiences.
“A lot has happened in these four-and-a-half years. I have matured, both on and off the pitch,” Goretzka started. “For example, when I was at Schalke, I still lived at home. I soaked up that ‘Mia san mia’ in my first year and want to pass that on.
“At that time, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben were still here, two of the most decorated players in the club’s history. You saw how, despite all their success, they continued to give their all every day in the gym and on the pitch, and were already drenched with sweat before training. When you see that, you have no other option but to join in. It motivates you and really rubs off.”
Goretzka, now 27, is one of the more senior players in the squad. In central midfield, young hotshots like Jamal Musiala (at least in his experiment at the six last season) and newly-arrived Ajax transfer Ryan Gravenberch have flashed their youthful exuberance. And now it’s Goretzka they have to look up to — a mentor’s role he naturally fell into.
“It happens all by itself. If you behave properly, you’re inevitably a role model for others, even if you don’t realize it,” Goretzka said. “I don’t think, for example, that Franck and Arjen thought at the time: ‘I’m going to the gym to show the boys how to do it.’ But in the best case, you give others a bit of direction through what you do. Of course, over the course of your career, you also have an eye on giving a steer here and there.”
With players like Goretzka at the helm, the FC Bayern standard can expect to remain strong — both on and off the field.