Joshua Kimmich: 'We can all take another step here'

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Joshua Kimmich has extended his contract at Bayern until 2025. In an interview with club magazine '51', the Germany international explains his reasons for signing a new deal and his goals with the record champions.

Interview with Joshua Kimmich

Joshua, you recently said you enjoy coming to Säbener Straße every day. Is that really always the case?
"Yes, it is. But it also always depends on the game before. If we've won, I'm in a good mood till the next game. If we've lost, the atmosphere is worse. Then I'm constantly thinking about what we have to do better. Since we've had two children, family happiness has been the main thing, but when I get to Säbener Straße, I switch to football. By the way, there were times when we were doing well and I didn't go to training every day full of joy. Wins and titles alone don't make you happy. I've noticed that for myself personally. It's also a lot to do with the team, my teammates, the coach. The best thing for me at Bayern is that I really have fun with what we do here every day -- together with the others, together with friends. I honestly didn't think you could experience that at this high professional level. Our Champions League title was a special set-up. We guys will still be saying to each other in 30 years: 'Do you remember back then?'. The way we treated each other was certainly a key to our success. We don't have any stinkers in the team, nobody only looks out for themselves and only plays for their own personal goals."

The Allianz Arena was lit up with 'JK6' to mark your contract extension. What does that mean to you?
"When I was a child and we'd drive past the Allianz Arena with my parents on our way on holiday, I'd marvel at it then even when it wasn't lit up -- that was usually during the day. To see my initials shining on it years later is a gigantic feeling. I'm 26 and think that, in terms of football, my best years are still ahead of me. I made a conscious decision to spend these years at Bayern. The package just fits."

After winning the Champions League, you said that you all want to define an era at Bayern.
"Like me, most of us still have our best years ahead of us -- and everybody would like to have players like Manuel Neuer, Thomas Müller or Robert Lewandowski in their team. When I see Jamal Musiala -- who's already really good but can really become world class -- or also a Tanguy Nianzou with great potential, we can all take another step here and also have a good foundation for the next years to be able to achieve the highest goals."

What do you think as a player when you see the sort of team Paris Saint-Germain have put together?
"I'd love to play against Paris. That's one of the most beautiful and interesting challenges there is. I've enjoyed playing against them the last few years, and that hasn't changed. I think Bayern can be proud of the fact that this club is doing things a slightly different way than many others in Europe. The fans can identify with that, and that's important. Sometimes I get the impression that everything is spiralling upwards because everyone is looking far too much to the left or the right. I think it makes more sense when you look after yourself and find your own way. That goes for clubs as well as players."

You also said after the Champions League win that 'we don't feel complete in any way'. When is a career complete?
"I always used to think that if you didn't win the Champions League, you'd failed. With the generation of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, people also said they weren't complete if they didn't win that title. But I've learned that one day, looking back, I won't make my career dependent on success alone. My motivation for playing football was never to win titles or become famous, but to have fun. That's why I could hardly wait for the return of spectators because that was what I actually dreamed of as a child, giving everything in a full stadium. I want to sit there at 40 and say my career was fun -- every day."

That sounds a lot like football romanticism.
"Of course, a central point is also that we play for the Champions League every year here. It's my biggest goal to win that title again, and I'd be unhappy if we didn't win the Champions League in the next few years. So please don't misunderstand my statement just now. I didn't mean I want to sit there and say the main thing is that I had fun. I'm ambitious, and it's always more fun when you win. They say you learn the most from defeats, but then I prefer to lose the unimportant games."

What do you think of Julian Nagelsmann?
"First of all, I found it impressive, even from a distance, how he develops a team and how many players he's turned into internationals. He's signed a five-year contract, which was a strong sign because continuity is always an advantage for growing together and building something. I'm convinced that long-term development can happen here with Julian. He takes an enormous amount of time for each individual to convey his idea of football."

What do you actually learn about yourself and the big picture when you negotiate a contract at Bayern by yourself?
"You get a different way of dealing, a different level with the management. It was important for me that I alone make the decision for myself. When I extended here the first time, there were some uncertainties involved. This time it was different. I knew from the first day of negotiations what was at stake."

Like Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller, you took five weeks off after the Euros this summer. Honestly, did you manage to really enjoy it?
"I'm not the type of guy who doesn't do any sport for five weeks, but I could switch off mentally and get away from the Euros, which I had to get over. It's easier to focus on everyday matters during a holiday with the children. It wouldn't be fair when everything continued to revolve around football. But I was happy to get going again at the end of the five weeks."

Photos: Roman Lang

You can read the full interview (in German) in the September issue of '51'.