This has been no ordinary summer for Amin Younes. The 23-year-old winger usually makes the trip back to Lebanon, the country of his father’s birth, at the end of every season. This year, however, he had to change his plans.
Just a few days after appearing with his club, Ajax Amsterdam, in the UEFA Europa League final against Manchester United and being named in the tournament’s squad of the season, Younes was called up for FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 by Germany coach Joachim Low. The player then made his international debut against Denmark in the lead-up to the tournament before, a few days later, scoring his first goal for his country, in a 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifier against San Marino.
When the Confederations Cup got under way, the speedy young wide man helped Die Mannschaft lift the trophy for the first time, making two appearances off the bench and scoring his side’s fourth goal in the semi-final victory over Mexico. It was little wonder, then, that Younes should describe his summer as “unbelievable” when he gave an exclusive interview to FIFA.com after finally making the trip to Lebanon, where he received a hero’s welcome.
FIFA.com: You won the FIFA Confederations Cup at the start of the month. Tell us how that felt. Amin Younes:
It was amazing. If you’d asked me a year ago if I was going to win the trophy, I would have said you were mad. It was a big thing for my family too because it was the first major tournament that I’ve won with the national team. It felt very special because of that.
You’ve had an outstanding year.
It was great to get to the Europa League final with Ajax and to win the Confederations Cup with Germany. It was something all the players were dreaming of. The important thing for me is to keep going forward. I developed as a player last year, but winning the Confederations Cup has made this a more successful one.
Few people thought Germany could win the tournament with such a young squad.
I agree. Before the competition, even I thought it was going to be a big ask with a young team because Chile, Mexico and the other sides all came with their first-team players. All the same, we took our best youngsters. I had a good feeling as the games went by. We developed into a solid side and everyone felt we could go on and win the title.
How has Joachim Low’s experience helped you progress?
He played a big role. He showed us that every player is important to the team, whether they’re a first choice or not, and he asked us to give our very best. He stressed the fact that though we were young, a lot of us had played in big games like the final of the Europa League and the Champions League. You have to remember that [Julian] Draxler and [Joshua] Kimmich have a lot of experience. Every day he asked us to respect the other teams, without fearing them.
You made a couple of short appearances off the bench but still had time to write your name in the tournament record books by scoring against Mexico.
I didn’t have time to celebrate it at the Confederations Cup but afterwards I realised that I’d achieved a lot and that people were happy. When the competition was on, we tried to stay focused on the objectives and give our all. I’m getting the chance now to see what impact my performances had, especially in Lebanon.
You’ve made your Germany debut, scored you first goal for them and won your first international title. What more can we expect from you?
My main objective is to be at the 2018 World Cup. There’s still a year to go and all the players who were at the Confederations Cup will want to be at the party too. We need to play well this year if we’re going to get selected. I hope I can have a good season with Ajax and get back into the national team. I’ll be doing all I can to make it happen.
Why was winning the Confederations Cup important to you?
The atmosphere was amazing at the competition, with the best teams from each continent taking part. It was great to play against Chile, Cameroon and Mexico especially. Winning the tournament shows that Germany have a very bright future ahead of them and that they have a huge pool of talent to draw on.