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"Dortmund. This is my club"

In a good mood and with his smartphone in hand, Marius Wolf, 27, comes to the team hotel Melia in Frankfurt on Thursday afternoon for an appointment with WELT AM SONNTAG.

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"Dortmund. This is my club"

In a good mood and with his smartphone in hand, Marius Wolf, 27, comes to the team hotel Melia in Frankfurt on Thursday afternoon for an appointment with WELT AM SONNTAG. Here and on the campus of the German Football Association (DFB), he and his colleagues have been preparing for the first international matches of the year since Monday. Wolf has been nominated for selection for the first time.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Mr. Wolf, what was the first thing you did after national coach Hansi Flick called you a week ago and nominated you?

Marius Wolf: I was at home with my cousin. After the call we were happy and very happy. The first thing I did was call my parents. And my girlfriend. Otherwise I didn't tell anyone at first. I just wanted some time to myself. I needed that to let it sink in.

WELT AM SONNTAG: As a child, you played for 1. FC Nürnberg, among other things, and your grandfather often drove you from your home town of Coburg to training. What did grandpa say about the nomination?

Wolf: He wrote me a message the next day and was very happy together with his grandmother. Back then it was always around a hundred kilometers that he drove me four times a week. My grandparents always filled in when my parents were working. I am very grateful to them. And I'm glad I'm making them proud now.

WELT AM SONNTAG: When you played with Kevin Boateng for Eintracht Frankfurt five years ago, he said about you: "If he doesn't become a national player, I'll stop playing football." Is this responsibility now a burden on you?

Wolf: Kevin wrote me a WhatsApp immediately after the nomination was announced. I got through it a bit at first, I got as many messages as after our cup victory with Frankfurt in 2018. Finally I called Kevin. He's glad he doesn't have to stop just yet (laughs).

WELT AM SONNTAG: In relation to your career, you once said: Frankfurt was my last chance.

Wolf: Yes. A year before I signed with Eintracht, I switched from TSV 1860 Munich to Hannover 96. You come there as a second division player and are happy that your dream of the Bundesliga is now being fulfilled. Then Thomas Schaaf was dismissed as coach and his successor no longer relied on me.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Daniel Stendel pushed you into the second team. They suddenly found themselves in the fourth division. You can hardly get further away from the national team.

Wolf: Those were tough weeks. Especially since I was not guilty of anything. As a young player, that was very difficult to understand. There came a point when I said to myself: keep going! Because if you give your all, you will always be rewarded at some point in football.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Your career is characterized by ups and downs, you didn't play for the youth national teams, only once for the U20. Now, at the age of 27, you play for the senior national team. Be honest: In the past few years, did you still think you would become a national team player?

Wolf: In Hanover I certainly didn't think I'd make it that far. But after that, even in the season of the cup victory with Frankfurt. I knew what I could do. And that I don't have to hide.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Does a childhood dream come true?

Wolf: Absolutely. For a footballer, the greatest thing is to play for your country. As a child, I always watched the World and European Championships with my friends. That was something very special.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Which player was your idol when you were young?

Wolf: Ronaldo. I was a Dortmund fan as a child and had a Dede shirt. That's why I've now decided to wear jersey number 17 at BVB. I looked up to Bastian Schweinsteiger from the German internationals. I like players who stand out. I always thought he was cool, also because of his haircut. I copied it back then.

WELT AM SONNTAG: In the meantime, you seem to be orienting yourself more towards your former colleague Erling Haaland in Dortmund.

Wolf: (laughs) He has my haircut, a lot of people don't know that. My hair was long at first. When I came back to Dortmund from Hertha, we both let our hair grow. At some point we said: Let's do a braid. But mine was there first! I got on very well with Erling and we're still in good contact.

WELT AM SONNTAG: BVB coach Edin Terzic uses you as a right-back. You've played in numerous positions before. Can you remember how many by heart?

Wolf: (counts on fingers) Left back, right back, left front, right front, sixes, eights. I've also played striker. So everything except central defender and goalkeeper.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Have you now found your perfect position?

Wolf: At the moment it's just fun. I was able to learn the position at BVB even better. It suits me at the moment, things are going very well with our team.

WELT AM SONNTAG: At Dortmund you are one of the top performers and made a decisive contribution to the lead in the Bundesliga. What is the key factor for your development?

Wolf: I worked on my deficits and improved in many things. Another factor is that in Frankfurt I started doing more strength training and building muscle mass. I've kept it to this day, it's good for me. This is also a maturing process as a person: recognizing what is good for you and how you can develop.

WELT AM SONNTAG: You were considered a migratory bird and had been loaned to Hertha BSC and 1. FC Köln in recent years. Have you finally arrived in Dortmund?

Wolf: I always had to adapt. The many changes of club came about because I always want to play. I'm not one to sit out a contract. It's not about the money for me, it's about playing football. The move to 1. FC Köln, for example, was very important to me. Even though we were fighting relegation and had to be relegated, it was a great and instructive time.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Are there friendships in the million-dollar business of professional football that remain beyond club boundaries?

Wolf: I met my best buddies when I was at TSV 1860 Munich. I'm still friends with them today, have a house in Munich and felt at home there. My sister also lives in Munich. My family and friends are the most important things to me. My anchor, especially in difficult times.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Last year you had to pause because of heart problems. What exactly did you have?

Wolf: One day I felt that something was wrong. My heart rhythm was different than usual. Not knowing what it was was very disturbing. You don't know what's going on in your body. You just feel that there is something. A gross feeling.

WORLD ON SUNDAY: What did you do?

Wolf: I had myself examined. It turned out to be atrial fibrillation. The doctors told me straight away that they needed to operate. It happened very quickly, three days later the operation took place. I wasn't even thinking about football at the time. I just hoped everything would be fine after that. And the doctors get it under control. Before the operation, you said that everything would work out. However, I felt a great deal of tension and uncertainty.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Was that the hardest moment of your life?

Wolf: Yes, I think so. Just those moments when I was sitting at home and I felt something but didn't know what it was.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Is everything good again now?

Wolf: During this phase, I really listened to my body. I still do. I would be lying if I said that mental check is completely gone now. I perceive my body much more intensively.

WELT AM SONNTAG: What was the cause of the heart problems?

Wolf: There are many triggers. For example, it can be hereditary or triggered by stress. I don't know the exact cause. In any case, I enjoy the moment and the supposedly small things in life even more since this thing.

WELT AM SONNTAG: DFB sports director Rudi Völler emphasized in a speech to you and your colleagues this week what a historic opportunity the home EM 2024 is for German football. What are your chances of a place in the European Championship squad?

Wolf: I want to get used to the national team and get to know everything. And just step on the gas. In training - and whenever I get the chance to play. I think it's good for me to focus on my strengths and not think too much.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Flick praised the returnee Emre Can and you as a mentality player. Have you always been a “mentality monster”? Can you learn mentality?

Wolf: Maybe that's already in you at an early age. But: Everyone shows their mentality differently. It's more visible on some players, less so on others. Some are more focused on their game, others need to show their emotions on the outside. I belong to the second group.

WELT AM SONNTAG: What are your goals for the coming years?

Wolf: I don't put any pressure on myself. We've already talked about how unforeseen my career has been so far. In view of this, I have given up the habit of making too many and too specific plans. I've been through enough to know it's not worth it. I'm just trying to enjoy every day and every game and keep performing. I have discovered that this is the best way to live.

WELT AM SONNTAG: With BVB you lead the Bundesliga table, with a win in the top game next Saturday in Munich you can extend the lead over FC Bayern to four points. The championship has to be a goal, right?

Wolf: We as BVB would do well to only look at ourselves. And win our games. Just like we did last year when things weren't going so well. So we stuck to our plan. That's how we approach every game.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Mr. Wolf, what else do you dream of, apart from taking part in the European Championships?

Wolf: I would like to start a family one day. And just live a healthy life. You experience a lot in football, some things are dazzling. Personally, I'm a wilder type, but I also love to have peace and quiet. I'm also looking forward to the day when I'm no longer a professional footballer.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Do you keep a bucket list?

Wolf: No. There are so many beautiful things in life. My belief is that if you become too rigid on a path, you no longer see all the beautiful things along the way.

WELT AM SONNTAG: Would you like to play abroad?

Wolf: Things can happen quickly in football, I've experienced that again and again. Anything can happen. But I feel absolutely fine in Dortmund. This is my club.

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