In the next in our series of exclusive player interviews from the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Kai Havertz recalls some formative moments when the tournament was played on home soil, watching one of his nation’s biggest and most famous victories, and he makes his choice. of all the goals and balls of the World Cup.
The 23-year-old is competing in his first World Cup with four-time winners Germany, and his memory stretches back to the most recent of those triumphs, and a couple of previous tournaments as well…
The first World Cup you remember seeing?
The first was in 2006, in Germany, when I was seven years old. Because it was in Germany I remember it very, very well.
Were there games near where you lived?
There was but I didn’t go to a game. I think I just went to a friendly match in Germany before the World Cup.
Of course, this World Cup was a big event in Germany and the fans were out of the houses. Everyone was rooting for the team.
I was old enough to remember the games. Germany lost in the semifinals so they had a very good tournament.
Were you one of those kids who watched the games and then went out to play soccer and pretended to be the players?
Of course! As a child he always played soccer. Every day, with my brother in the garden or with a team. Of course, when you went to the garden you wanted to imitate your idols, so I did that too.
The last World Cup that Germany won, in Brazil in 2014, you have to be very old to enjoy it…
Yes of course. For our country it was very, very good and I was 15 years old so I was a big fan. And I wanted to become a professional soccer player, so I watched every game.
What was it like being in Germany when you beat Brazil 7-1 in the semi-final?
For us it was good of course, but in Germany we don’t want to humiliate. Of course, everyone is happy, but no one makes jokes about this or something. Football is sometimes like that, so we take the result, but we don’t really celebrate it in a big way. You know that sometimes things like that happen in a tournament, and when you score goals early that gives you confidence. It was in Brazil that the Brazilian team was under pressure and for us it was very good.
Presumably the final that year when Germany beat Argentina is your favorite World Cup final?
100 percent for me is the best.
What is the favorite goal you have seen in a World Cup?
Zidane’s penalty in the 2006 final. This was the first World Cup I can remember and he was scored in the middle, so it was a great goal and I really liked it. Of course I tried to copy it. Maybe in a World Cup final I can do it too!
Who are the best players you have seen in a World Cup?
Ronaldinho, Ronaldo, I like Zidane, obviously Messi, great players.
For Germany in 2010 and 2014 it was Thomas Muller. He was very good and I think he also won the Golden Boot. Then you have players like Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer, obviously also very good players.
What has been your favorite World Cup ball?
For me the one from 2014. I had it at home and I liked it.
Did you fill books with World Cup stickers?
My brother always did them with me together. I don’t think we’ve finished one, but we tried to.
You played in the youth Eurocup with Germany, but have you ever played in a youth World Cup?
No. I think the Under 19s was always a World Cup, but at that time I was already playing for the professionals, so I didn’t play.
In which stadium would you like to play a World Cup final?
I would say that the Bernabéu maybe, or the Camp Nou, the big ones.
In Germany, due to its history in the World Cup, there must always be a lot of excitement ahead of a new World Cup…
Of course. In every country, everyone expects to see the World Cup.
Playing in my first World Cup is very important to me. It is different to play in the middle of the season but we are all going to enjoy it.