Jamal Musiala has said that the motto of “play with freedom” he learned when representing England’s youth teams remains his inspiration before Germany’s World Cup campaign.
The Stuttgart-born 19-year-old moved aged seven to London. He went to school there and played for England’s youth teams before deciding to represent Germany at senior level. The Bayern Munich midfielder is conscious of how vital his formative years were.
“In the England youth teams you learn different things than you do playing in Germany,” Musiala said. “I took home many messages. It was a different environment in the England youth setup.
“They set great store by individual technique and one‑on‑one play. To play with freedom was the motto at the time. That is what inspired me and will stay with me for all of my footballing life.”
Germany have an impressive major‑tournament record which includes four World Cup triumphs, the most recent in 2014. But Musiala believes his nation can still learn from England.
“England have enormous qualities as far as individual players are concerned,” he said.
“All the England players go for one‑on-one duels so that is something we can learn about the courage not to avoid any dribbles.”
As a youngster Musiala wanted England to win. “I didn’t go for the face paint when I was small but playing for the England youth teams I did of course support the Three Lions,” he said. “I hope they do well of course because for a while it was part of my life. I always wanted to play for England when I was younger. When I played in England I supported them with all my heart.”
Of Mario Götze’s winner for Germany in the 2014 final he said: “Eight years ago I was 11 and on a sofa with my parents. I watched it in England at the time. Götze’s goal versus Argentina was a huge experience for me.”
Lothar Matthäus, who captained West Germany to victory at the 1990 World Cup, has compared Musiala to Lionel Messi. Musiala said: “This comparison is an absolute honour because Messi has been playing at the top of his game for his whole life. So comparing me to Messi is not on. Really I really think I should focus on myself, there is a lot of room for improvement.”