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Young and talented

Ekici and Müller accomplish ‘first steps’

18-year-old Bayern youth Thomas Müller was busily celebrating the end of his school examinations, when his mobile phone rang. “I didn’t answer. When I listened to my voicemail, it was Jürgen Klinsmann,” Müller recalled, as he learnt he was to train with the senior squad in the initial pre-season phase. “I was totally thrilled.“

Mehmet Ekici, Müller’s similarly aged team-mate in the FCB reserves under seasoned coach Hermann Gerland, has also thoroughly enjoyed his first taste of the big time. “It feels fantastic and it’s great fun,” remarked Ekici, still eligible to appear for the U-19 youths but also a member of the third division reserves squad.

Amazing experience

“They’re both incredibly talented, that I have to say,” the new head coach declared admiringly. The higher pace and correspondingly greater physical demands meant “they needed a little while to acclimatise,” Klinsmann observed, “but I’m really impressed at how a couple of 18-year-old lads have fitted in so well.”

“The passing is a lot faster. You have a lot more time in the youths, but you have to do everything lightning fast here,” Müller commented, comparing life in the reserves with the seniors. “But the whole thing is a lot more professional. The coaching staff is large enough to look after us as individuals,” he continued, describing his spell with the superstars as “an amazing experience, even if only to see their working conditions.”

Catching the eye

The pair are beneficiaries of the fact that only 12 first-teamers were available for the first week of training. “There are always opportunities when some of my players are absent,” commented Klinsmann, “I sought out Hermann Gerland right at the start and asked him who he could make available.”

Ekici caught the eye in a third division south meeting with KSC II back in May, Klinsmann reported, while Müller was recommended by Gerland and youth coach Björn Andersson. “One of our basic principles is to give our own youth players a chance,” Klinsmann explained.

First steps

“We have some influence on the reserve team, and we can temporarily promote a player any time we want. We can show the U-19s what comes next,” Klinsmann continued. Müller and Ekici have made “the first small step,” but they are unlikely to be the last. “We can show them how it could look in the future.“

Once all the official senior squad members are back from vacation, Müller and Ekici will play and train under Gerland most of the time. The youngsters were always aware of that fact, but both are determined to make an impression in the time available. “I need to become physically stronger and improve my fitness,” Ekici commented, “but I reckon I can hold my own in terms of footballing ability.“