US star Pulišić on Dortmund, German classes and #UEL
Dortmund’s teenaged attacking midfielder Christian Pulišić has followed his footballing dream from his native Pennsylvania to Europe, with the culture shock of learning a new language in Dortmund proving no bar to his first-team breakthrough. The 19-year-old speaks about his adventures.
On Dortmund’s Europa League chances
We want to win the Europa League. We want to go out and prove that we can be the best in this tournament. I think we go out with that attitude in every single game. We are up against Atalanta next; we played them in pre-season and had a tough game [Atalanta winning 1-0 in Altach, Austria]. I expect a strong defensive team. They’re going to make every single detail hard for us and we’re definitely going to have to battle if we want to go through.
On his footballing upbringing in Pennsylvania
I was always around the game. Both my parents [Mark and Kelly Pulišić] were players; they started me out in soccer, but they didn’t really put any pressure on me to play. They always wanted me to enjoy it. I was always playing against bigger guys. I was always a small kid – always the smallest one on the field. I had to think much faster and use more of my technique and skill to manoeuvre around and to play the game instead of my physicality, so it made me a much smarter player.
On coming to Dortmund in 2015
This was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. I had known about some of the history and what [Dortmund have done in terms of] developing young players. I was scared to come to Europe, to come to a foreign country, and I knew it wouldn’t be easy. I knew I was going to miss home, which I did and I still do, but it was something I had to do if I wanted to reach my ultimate goal. Coming here and not speaking a word of German is definitely different.
On first training with the senior team in early 2016
I’ll never forget it. I was in school and I think my dad was the one who texted me because he found out first that I was training with the first team that day and I was just so excited and anxious. I was trying to stay cool, but it was a really awesome day. Going in and seeing [Marco] Reus and [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang; getting bumped off the ball by Mats Hummels – it was definitely a shock at first, but it was really cool.
On being a Dortmund man
It’s my second home. It’s where I live all year, pretty much. When I’m home in my apartment here, I definitely feel at home. My ambitions with the club? I want to continue to earn my spot every weekend, to play every weekend, to stay healthy and have a really good season. If I can bring everything that I have personally, hopefully the team will have success as well.