Creative Soccer Culture

Florian Wirtz On Setbacks, Success & A Summer To Savour

Being regarded as one of the best young players in the world obviously comes with a lot of pressure. But 20-year-old Florian Wirtz isn’t letting that weight of expectation drag him down – quite the opposite in fact, as he eyes unprecedented domestic glory ahead of a summer full of promise.

Bayer Leverkusen have really upset the apple cart this season, with Alonso’s unlikely band of brothers set to end over a decade of dominance from Bayern Munich in quite outrageous fashion, barring any major meltdowns. There’s no pause for Munich’s monopoly as the status quo here – Leverkusen's is a determined march towards glory, sweeping aside all who stand in their way in incredibly impressive fashion. And spearheading their charge is young Florian Wirtz, who, having made his debut for the club in 2020 at the age of 17 years and 15 days (a feat that made him Leverkusen's youngest player in the league, which was followed by him becoming the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history a couple of weeks later), is one of those players that you feel has been around for ages already, and yet he’s still only 20.

Spending time with the midfielder recently, it was clear from the outset that he’s more at home in his natural environment, playing in front of thousands of fans rather than being solo in the spotlight. “It’s definitely easier for me on the pitch. I feel comfortable there and can use my strengths,” he explained in between photos. Not that you’d know it from his demeanour though; the camera loves this guy as much as the Leverkusen fans do.

“I wouldn't consider myself as an entertainer, but of course I like the fact that I can inspire other people with my game,” he went on as we probed further about his performances and all round play. “Above all, I want to give my best in every game and be successful with my team. Of course, I'm even happier if my performance also inspires the crowd. But the priority is always success with the team.”

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Success with the team seems all but secured at club level, and while focus will undoubtedly be on getting that job done, we have to talk a little bit about the upcoming Euros, which will take place in Wirtz’s homeland. “I feel really good and I’m really looking forward to the upcoming weeks and months," – music to German ears – "I believe that we’ll have a successful time both with Leverkusen and with the national team and I'm really excited about what’s to come.

“I always want maximum success. We’re still playing in three competitions with Leverkusen, while with the national team, we have a European Championship in our own country, so the goals are obvious and I just have to remain focussed.”

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Speaking of goals, and few people in world football can currently compete with Wirtz’s stats – at the time of writing he has 11 goals and 17 assists this season. There’s a steely determination underlying his side of the conversation, and you get the feeling that it’s that type of tunnel vision and focus that help him achieve such high standards. “My priority lies on the pitch. Everything else is secondary,” he points out when we try to shift the conversation to football’s influence away from the game itself. “I do enjoy engaging with fashion though,” he concedes “and I like to make statements from time to time.” Statements on and off the pitch seem to be a calling card of this superstar-in-the-making then.

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Of course, it’s not all been plain sailing for the German international. An ACL injury in March 2022 ended his season and kept him out of action for the next 10 months, but now he’s back to his best and ready to live up to his frankly scary potential. Suffering such a serious injury is not something you’d wish on any player, but Wirtz has a pragmatic view of his time out, with coming through setbacks and having positive noise around him helping him to grow. “The time during my injury in particular was formative for me as a person. I was fortunate to have many good people around me and thanks to the support of my family, friends and my club, I have definitely come back stronger from this situation.”

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That injury denied him a place in Germany’s 2022 World Cup squad, and you can’t help but wonder how that campaign might have differed had they had the services of the Leverkusen man. This time though, he’s fully fit and ready to help his country. “It makes me incredibly proud to wear the DFB jersey. It's just a great feeling to be on the pitch for your country and perhaps be a role model for some of the kids.”

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He mentions the jersey, and so we just had to get his take on the new away kit from adidas – one of the standout designs amongst so many other impressive shirts. “I like the new jersey and its unusual pink colour – it’s wild! As I've already mentioned, I like to make a statement now and then and this jersey is definitely doing that.

"What I like about football as a whole is that it brings many things and people together far beyond the sport itself. I feel like designs like this really appeal to a wider range of fans and help create a wider community.”

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His story so far has been like something out of Hollywood, and he undoubtedly has the potential to be a star for Germany this summer. “I hope that this movie still has one or two happy endings in store this year,” he concludes with a cheeky grin. Watch out Europe, Wirtz has a taste of success and is coming for more.

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Florian Wirtz wear the adidas X Crazyfast, which you can pick up at

Daniel Jones

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