Rants and musings from the magazine team
FourFourTwo's man in Germany, Titus Chalk, tells us more about the German midfielder heading for White Hart Lane...
He is a devoted Everton fan, loves Coldplay, Walkers crisps and beans on toast, and is the Under-21 captain of his country. Improbably, though, that’s Germany, home of the richly talented Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby.
Holtby, whose dad is a Liverpudlian who served in the RAF in Germany, caught the English media’s eye in 2010 while turning in man of the match showings on loan at Mainz. Suddenly, he looked like an improbable solution to England’s creative shortcomings.
“My childhood dream was to play for England,” Holtby tells FourFourTwo. “I always wore England shirts and David Beckham was my favourite player. But once I had played for Germany’s Under-18s, I decided to stay loyal. I love playing for Germany and am very happy I made that choice.” Holtby has since earned a handful of senior caps under Joachim Low as the call from England came too late, and he was even close to making Germany’s Euro 2012 squad.
Schalke, meanwhile, finished third in the Bundesliga to nab Champions League football again next season, having reached the semi-finals in 2011. Holtby’s form – though interrupted by a nagging ankle injury – was instrumental in driving them up the table. As one half of the Royal Blues’ double pivot with American Jermaine Jones, ‘Lucky Lewis’ orchestrated the team’s play with the precociousness that has become almost standard for Germany’s youngsters, even if his true calling is a little further forward.
A certain evergreen Spaniard had that post covered at Schalke all season (not to mention Klaas Jan Huntelaar scoring 50+ goals), but Holtby isn’t complaining. “It was an honour to play with Raul,” he says. “He’s always got an open ear for every young player, and he runs around on the pitch like a little kid. He might be turning 35, but he’s as fit as a horse.”
The 21-year-old – that’s Holtby, not Raul – says he is happy simply to have established himself in the Schalke starting XI after being sent out on loan twice by previous manager Felix Magath. “I don’t do this for the money,” he says. “I know we get paid well, but I love football and I love playing it.”
That’s music to the ears of German fans. England, though, are left to mourn the one who got away.
This piece originally featured in July 2012 edition of FourFourTwo
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