Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Jamal Musiala: From England youngster to Germany star

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Jamal Musiala’s exceptional performances for Germany have lit up Euro 2024, but it is bittersweet for England.

Social media is rife with pictures of Musiala in the famous Three Lions jersey celebrating goals and trophies with midfielder Jude Bellingham during his youth career.

England football may have felt FOMO, also known as the fear of missing out, as the 21-year-old scored twice in his first three matches and was named as player of the match in the 5-1 demolition of Scotland on the opening day.

Germany manager Julian Nagelsmann says the “brilliant” Musiala must keep playing “like he is on a small pitch in Germany or England with his friends”.

Yet, this joint piece of English and German engineering was once unknown to the German Football Association.

Cambridge United assistant manager Kevin Betsy managed Musiala in three age groups in England’s youth set-up.

Betsy told BBC Sport: “I scouted Jamal at an Under-12s tournament in Brighton, and he was up front for Chelsea.

“He was tiny, one of the smallest players on the pitch, but he had amazing intelligence, game understanding, quickness over the first five metres, and dribbling ability.

“I realised I saw something special when driving home. We weren’t selecting any underage players for England’s first Under-15s age group, but with him and Jude, we put forward our case to make an exception.

“I don’t think Germany knew much about him or his level until he faced them and was exceptional in the match.”

Betsy says Musiala went away with Germany at Under-16 level but did not enjoy his first camp there and returned to England for Under-17s football.

“Again, he faced Germany as England’s captain and was exceptional against them,” he added.

“After the game, their youth coach said, ‘I didn’t realise he was that good’. That game, and Jamal joining Bayern, probably gave Germany the upper hand.”

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