Joshua Kimmich: 10 things on Bayern Munich and Germany's flawless full-back
Don’t just take our word for it, though, when we say that the boy’s a bit special – here are ten things bundesliga.com have dug up about the seemingly flawless full-back.
1) Smashing start
Kimmich grew up in the small village of Bösingen, which is located between the Black Forest and Baden-Württemberg’s capital Stuttgart. It is a typical rural village with no more than 1,700 inhabitants and along with the other boys in the village, football was a regular hobby for Kimmich. They would practise in the front garden and back yard, until one too many windows got smashed by wayward footballs. “One day, I came home and found two regulation soccer goals in the front yard,” Kimmich told the playerstribune.com. “The local football club didn’t need them anymore, and my parents had taken them off the team’s hands. My dad pointed to the plot of unused private land across the street: ‘boys, go over there and play football.'”
Watch: Kimmich reaches Bayern century
2) Early idols
When playing in the park, Kimmich would look to emulate some of his early idols. Zinedine Zidane, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Tomas Rosicky were three of the names he had on the back of replica shirts – suggestive also of the role he preferred to assume out on the field. Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez and former VfB Stuttgart legend Krasimir Balakov were also role models
3) Stuttgart snub
Kimmich’s passion for football saw him enrol on the roster of a local youth team, who gave him the stage to showcase his talents when they played against the youth team of Stuttgart. “This was the club at which so many other professional players had gotten their start,” Kimmich recalled. “I scored three goals against them and we won 3-2 – Not a bad way to get noticed.” Kimmich’s parents initially refused an invitation for him to start training with Stuttgart, though, until the youth team coach came to their home in person and talked them around.
4) Academy acceptance
After spending several years travelling to and from Stuttgart several times a week, Kimmich began taking his first real footsteps in the world of football when he was welcomed into Stuttgart’s academy as one of only 18 annual recruits – when he was just 14. He, along with a friend, was the youngest new member and would be given all the menial tasks, not that he had any complaints as he developed another dimension of his determined character.
5) First big break(-up?)
Kimmich felt he was ready to take the step up to Stuttgart’s second team, who plied their trade in the third tier of German football, when he was 18 after four years in their academy. Unfortunately for him, though, the Swabians did not share his view. “‘You’re not good enough, your body is not strong enough,’ the coaches told me, adding that I needed another year with the youth team,” Kimmich recalled. Instead of being his first big break, it was something which could have broken him – but it didn’t. He instead drew strength and resolve from it and decided to seek his fortune elsewhere, and it just so happened the youth coach who had lured him to Stuttgart had since moved to RB Leipzig, and he wanted him there. “I just thought, I have this chance and I have to take it,” recalled Kimmich.
Watch: Kimmich, Mario Gomez, Serge Gnabry: Stuttgart’s many youth products
6) Mr Versatile
In his still nascent career, Kimmich has already occupied a variety of roles – starting from the central defensive position he was thrust into by Pep Guardiola in 2015 due to injuries, and subsequently named by the Catalan as “one of the best centre-backs in the world – he’s got the desire, the will, the passion,” moving through the defensive midfield holding role to places on both sides of the Bayern and Germany defence. He appears to have found his most habitual home at right full-back, however.
7) Pep talk
Kimmich joined Bayern in 2015 with Guardiola seeing to it personally that he would accept the Bavarians’ offer. “I sat down in a conference room at Bayern’s offices waiting to meet Pep Guardiola,” Kimmich said. “All I knew about Pep was from what I had seen on TV. I was so nervous, but as he walked in, I felt it right away — that trust. And immediately I knew: I wanted to play for Bayern. Pep spoke to me about my strengths and my weaknesses, and how he wanted to help me become a better player by learning a different style of play. ‘I want you on this team,’ he told me. That’s a moment I will never forget.”
8) Team of the tournament
Kimmich soon had Germany coach Joachim Löw on his growing list of fans and, following Philipp Lahm‘s international retirement in 2014, it was not long before the apprentice was filling his master’s boots for Germany, as he would later do for his club. In 2016, Kimmich was Germany’s first-choice right full-back at EURO 2016, and he even made it onto the Team of the Tournament at the end of the first of what is likely to be many summer tournaments for Kimmich.
9) Captain Kimmich
So after becoming established as the first-choice full-back for club and country – by the age of 22 – it is hard to go much further, but in October 2017, Kimmich moved onto yet another level by pulling on the captain’s armband for Germany, becoming the youngest to do so since 1912. Wearing the armband for Bayern is one of his declared aims. “Becoming the captain of Bayern is my big goal,” he told Bild. “But you have to work hard for it and consistently deliver good performances, that’s my ultimate target.”
Watch: All 18 goals and assists from Kimmich’s first 100 Bayern appearances
10) Player of the Year
Kimmich made a remarkable 24 consecutive appearances for Germany between June 2016 and October 2017 – bettering a sequence set by none other than Franz Beckenbauer – and he impressed so much during that spell that he was named in a poll on the German Football Association’s (DFB) website as their Player of the Year for 2017, winning by a mile with 43.5 per cent of the 52,761 votes.
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