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“My biggest goal is to return to the national team”



Robin Koch has played eight international matches so far.  He was in the squad for the 2021 European Championship, but was not used.

Robin Koch has developed into a leading player at English relegation candidates Leeds United – and is now hoping to return to the German national team. In an interview with SPOX and GOAL, the 26-year-old defender talks about acclaimed tackles and Marc Roca’s German skills.

Koch moved from SC Freiburg to Leeds in 2020 for 13 million euros. He is currently fighting with his team to stay up in the Premier League.

Herr Koch, things are turbulent at Leeds United: Jesse Marsch was fired at the beginning of February, and Javi Gracia took over after three games under interim coach Michael Skubala. How do you experience these times?

A cook: When a coach has to go, it’s never good. Under Michael Skubala there were very important games coming up. Two derbies against Manchester United, the duel against Everton. We also wanted to get more out of those games. I wish Jesse Marsch all the best for the future.

Under Garcia, the first win was achieved in the first game, followed by two defeats and a draw. What is your first impression of the new coach?

A cook: We want to adapt to him as quickly as possible, internalize his idea of ​​the game and score points together to get out of the bottom of the table.

Despite all the turbulence, you are an undisputed regular player, and you even wore the captain’s armband in a game against Brentford FC in the autumn. How do you rate your development?

Robin Cook: I feel very comfortable in the city and in the team. I’ve also made it my goal to grow even more into a leadership role, to lead the team even more on the pitch, to be even louder in training. Then it’s nice feedback to be voted one of the deputy captains by the team. Of course, it is also important to perform well on the pitch.

Do you have an aspiration to become Leeds United captain?

A cook: Why not? Yes. But even without a bandage, I want to be a leader in the team and also set a good example off the pitch.

Your contract runs until 2024. Have you already talked about an extension?

A cook: During the season I want to distract myself as little as possible with future planning. Initial talks are currently underway between the club and my advisor. Towards the end of the season and during the summer break I will deal with it. Now my focus is 100 percent on our games and goals.

Leeds are currently 19th in the table. and is back on a relegation zone. Could you imagine going to the second division?

A cook: The question does not arise. I am convinced that we will not be relegated.

What are the reasons for the crisis?

A cook: The place in the table does not reflect our performance. We play a lot of good games, but we forget to score. We need to get ripped off.

She are 26 years old: what are your goals for the rest of your career?

A cook: My biggest goal is to return to the national team. I want to play another big tournament. I was there at the EM 2021, but unfortunately I didn’t play. I also definitely want to win titles at club level.

Since you were no longer nominated for the EM 2021, nor were you in the squad for the German national team at the World Cup in Qatar. How is the exchange with national coach Hansi Flick going?

A cook: During and after my injury (hip problems in autumn 2021, editor’s note) we were in regular contact. The national coach asked how I was doing and assured me that he was watching me. The fact that I dropped out of all places during his early days wasn’t ideal for me. After that it was difficult to join. I had to cancel my last nomination because of a corona disease. Unfortunately that was unfortunate. We haven’t had any contact lately.

How did you spend the World Cup?

A cook: I watched the games on TV and used the time to recharge my batteries for the new season.

Germany failed in the group stage. How do you rate that?

A cook: From a distance, it’s difficult for me to judge why things went the way they did or what might have affected the team. I definitely suffered with the boys.

There was much discussion about the human rights situation in Qatar and the ultimately banned one love armband. As a consequence, the internationals covered their mouths for the team photo before the opening game against Japan. What did you think of the gesture?

A cook: The boys will have made up their minds. You have made a mark.

Back to Leeds: Marc Roca came from FC Bayern Munich in the summer. What is your impression of him?

A cook: He’s a great soccer player. He has already flashed that at Bayern. He’s also a very ambitious guy. Marc is good for the team. He speaks German very well. When he came I told him straight away that we would keep this. But we don’t just understand each other because he speaks German.

How much contact do you have with your teammates off the field – also compared to your former club Freiburg?

A cook: In Freiburg I did a lot with the guys privately. Close friendships were formed that have lasted to this day and probably even longer. That’s very rare in football. Here in Leeds we get along great off the field and do a lot of things privately. But not as much as in Freiburg. This is also due to the fact that more boys already have families here. That was not the case in Freiburg.

What did you then do together in Freiburg?

A cook: My apartment was very centrally located. Most of the time we all met there, watched the Champions League together, ate or had a coffee.

How does public life differ in the two cities?

A cook: It was different in Freiburg than in Leeds. When I am strolling through the city with a couple of guys, many fans recognize me and want a selfie. But that’s nice and shows the great fascination for the club here.

How do you find the atmosphere on Elland Road?

A cook: Extraordinary, with every game there is goosebumps atmosphere. The mood is completely different than in Germany. Here the songs come from all sides and not just from a curve like in Germany. You notice that on the pitch extremely. Also, everything here is game related. If there is a good tackle or attack, the fans follow along more than in Germany. As a defender, it’s nice when fans go nuts over a tackle.

Aside from Elland Road, which Premier League stadium is the most atmospheric?

A cook: The first thing that comes to mind is Newcastle. Old Trafford was good too, but it’s a derby against us too. Otherwise I would also mention the stadiums of Liverpool and Aston Villa.

Which striker is the hardest to defend?

A cook: I find it interesting that in the Premier League every club has a good striker. It’s difficult to pick one out. But Erling Haaland is extraordinary. In the game against us he was very inconspicuous, but he still scored two goals. He’s one of the best, if not the best, striker in the world right now. Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins are also very dangerous. Ultimately, I can measure myself against an absolute top striker match day after match day. Exactly what I want.

Most recently, the Premier League was in the headlines mainly because of the crazy transfer fees, Chelsea FC, for example, spent around 330 million euros in the winter break alone.

A cook: The totals are insane, of course, but to be honest I don’t care when I’m playing against this team.