Start of the U21 European Championship: Tournament of late starters - Sport
- In the squad of the U21 national team are missing some big names like Brandt, Sané, Havertz or Werner.
- All these talents would be eligible to play, but are already set A-national player.
- Therefore, at the tournament in Italy now other, later started junior talents can prove.
The story of the young career of Florian Neuhaus is the story of a detour. It was in the summer of 2017, he had just descended from the second division with 1860 Munich and had his first season as a professional football player behind him, because he received an offer from Borussia Mönchengladbach. That can be very tempting for a twenty-year-old who was Neuhaus back then, but when Gladbach's manager Max Eberl remembers, he talks about an athlete who did not overestimate his strength: Neuhaus wanted to play first of all. Gladbach awarded him for a year in the second division at Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Now, two years later, Neuhaus, 22, belongs to the German U21, for which this Monday the European Championship in Italy and San Marino begins with the match against Denmark in Udine. And Eberl says Neuhaus' way is "a prime example of how a talent can develop". It does not always have to be fast.
To counteract the market a bit
If one looks at the German squad, then it is noticeable that the best young players of the country are missing. Leroy Sané, Julian Brandt, Timo Werner, Thilo Kehrer and Kai Havertz would all be eligible to play, because they were born after the deadline of January 1, 1996. But they have long been A-national players. Now one could come up with the heretical idea that the European Championships are a tournament of the best second best. However, Meikel Schönweitz resolutely rejects this thesis.
Schönweitz, 39, is responsible since this year as head coach U-national team for the German offspring. Yes, he says, "the age range has shifted a lot." Players should always be in their development ever earlier. But he comes to a different conclusion, as the market pretends him: "We want to counteract a bit," he says, "because there is one or the other player who needs two or three years in men's football to evolve. " His favorite example is Neuhaus: "A player who did not start at the age of 18 - and who has a market value of more than 20 million at 22 at one go because he used the time."
In the second division season with Dusseldorf Neuhaus contributed six goals and three assists to the rise, debuted in the U21 national team, it was only his sixth junior country game ever, to the U20 had never nominated him a selection coach. In Gladbach he was in the past season from the beginning of a regular in eighth in midfield, played a superb preliminary round, then had to fight in the second half as the whole team. He prepared nine goals and scored three. Eberl says that basically Neuhaus was always involved when it became dangerous for the opponent.
The manager thinks it may be the player's more reserved temperament that made him stand out later than others. Neuhaus is not alone in the squad. Eduard Löwen, 22, who moves from relegated Nuremberg for about seven million euros to Hertha BSC, descended in his senior year as a youth player with the 1st FC Saarbrücken from the junior Bundesliga. "The opinions about the player have gone very far," says Michael Köllner, his former coach: Many would have thought Löwen's skills would not be enough. Köllner was then U21 coach in the Regionalliga.