For the first time since his World Cup exit on 1 December, Joshua Kimmich spoke publicly on Wednesday. He did not fall into the proverbial hole he thought he would fall into immediately after the 4:2 against Costa Rica. Instead, the 27-year-old appeared well-recovered and motivated.

“My statements directly after the match and elimination were of course very emotional because something like that gets to me. We had big goals, but once again we were eliminated early: The 2018 World Cup, 2021 at the European Championship, now again. It’s very bitter because you don’t have too many chances with the national team,” Kimmich explained the words he spoke 41 days ago. He said his three children had helped him to come to terms with it, “there are other things to do”. Although Kimmich said he could not simply forget and check things off, looking forward outweighed this: “The motivation to be back here is huge. The holiday was very long, maybe too long. I’m happy that it’s starting again.”

“I just have to play until I’m 45”.

Kimmich has not lost his sense of humour despite the three frustrating tournaments. “I just have to play until I’m 45,” he countered the question of whether he still believed in better, more successful times with the national team. He also said it was difficult to compare the three tournaments from 2018 to 2022 in terms of the reasons for the early exit. “In 2018, very little was right, even internally with us as a team. Against England in 2021, it felt like a 50-50 game.” And in Qatar? “I don’t want to say that everything was great, but in the end, 30 minutes against Japan cost us the tournament. If we draw there, we’ll progress.”

Lack of self-confidence and self-image

The reason for this, he said, was a lack of self-confidence that, like Italy before the 2021 European Championship or now Argentina, had to be earned long before a tournament with a winning streak. Kimmich: “We have to strive for something like that, we can’t just start when the next tournament begins, but already in March. We have to try to win games, build confidence and self-image.”

The midfielder thinks rather little of a “now-first-right” mentality. “I have the ambition for myself and my team to develop and play good football.” In Doha, he is working on that, for example, he put in an extra shift with Jamal Musiala and Serge Gnabry on Tuesday afternoon and practised finishing goals. There is no sign of a mental breakdown.