Kai Havertz interview: the Bayer Leverkusen teenager making music on and off the pitch
Kai Havertz makes sweet, sweet music on the pitch as part of Bayer Leverkusen‘s formidable attack – indeed, he has created more goals than Leon Bailey and Julian Brandt this season – and admits that, in order to switch off from football, he has recently taken up the piano. Quite simply: is there anything Havertz can’t do? (Apart from maths, of course – better not to mention that.)
bundesliga.com caught up with the youngest player ever to hit a half-century of Bundesliga appearances for his take on a whirlwind 18 months in the career fast lane …
bundesliga.com: You’re only 18, but you’ve already made over 50 Bundesliga appearances. Do you ever think about things you might have missed out on?
Kai Havertz: You do from time to time. There’s a lot that young players who want to make it in the Bundesliga have to do without, things that other youngsters get to do. That was the case for me. On the other hand, I can sit here and say I’m a professional footballer. More importantly, it was always my goal to give something back to my family. They’ve invested a lot in my dream. My parents always took me to training and to all the tournaments. It wasn’t easy for my Mum in particular, getting round the idea of her 15-year-old soon suddenly moving out and moving in with a host family in order to be able to play for Bayer 04.
Watch: Havertz reflects on becoming the youngest player ever to hit 50 Bunesliga outings
bundesliga.com: Nowadays you get on particularly well with Brandt …
Havertz: Julian is the one guy in the team who I spend most of my time with away from football. We don’t live far from each other, so we do something together pretty much every day. We’re on the same wavelength, for the most part.
bundesliga.com: Brandt has said that you’re on the path to world stardom, other experts already see you as the “new Michael Ballack”. How do you keep your feet on the ground, as an 18-year-old?
Havertz: It’s not that difficult. I’ve always been brought up to keep my feet on the ground. I learned from my parents that arrogance and snootiness are not desirable qualities. Why should a footballer be any different to anybody else? We’re normal guys, just like most people. Besides, I haven’t achieved anything yet. Football is about winning titles, and I haven’t done that since turning pro.
Watch: Brandt and Havertz show off their Fortnite-inspired celebration!
bundesliga.com: Still, you have a goal-scoring threat in common with Ballack. You scored 19 times in a single Bundesliga juniors season and recently scored four goals in an U19 international game. Is there a striker somewhere in you?
Havertz: Not really. In fact, I’m often critical of myself for not scoring enough and missing too many chances that I really should be putting away.
bundesliga.com: Even so, 22 goals and assists in 52 games is a pretty big return – more than some players manage in their entire careers …
Havertz: But there are significantly more assists. Right now, I’m definitely a lot better at providing assists than scoring goals (laughs). Anyway, I’m not really fussed what position I play in at the moment, whether it’s up front or in midfield. The main thing is that I’m playing.
bundesliga.com: In 2017 you were juggling the start of your professional playing career with your school exams. How did you manage that?
Havertz: It took a big effort. I hardly had any time, and had to focus on either football or school. I didn’t have time for anything else, like meeting friends etc. Looking back on that now, that did me some good. If I didn’t play well, I couldn’t dwell on it for long because I had no other choice but to focus on school. There was no time to get frustrated. I’m happy that I got through it. Now I can concentrate 100 per cent on football.
bundesliga.com: What did you study?
Havertz: Sport and German were my main subjects, geography my third and maths my fourth.
bundesliga.com: Hats off alone for doing maths …
Havertz: As if! (laughs) I was a disaster in maths, but I didn’t have any other options because if you majored in sport, you had to do maths. The saving grace was that I could do oral maths. That covered up the fact that I was completely useless at it! (laughs).
bundesliga.com: Ok, maths maybe, but you’re similarly gifted on the piano as you are with a football …
Havertz: That’s not quite right. It’s true that music has always meant a lot to me, I’m always listening to music whenever I have a free minute. I also think it’s important to have something calming away from football that allows you to switch off a bit. So I decided to learn an instrument. As I’ve always liked piano compositions, it wasn’t a difficult choice. I enjoyed the first few hours so much, I decided to stick with it.
bundesliga.com: Do you play classical pieces?
Havertz: Classical and contemporary pieces. At the moment, though, I’m just on the basics and am gradually working my way up. My objective is to master classical and modern music eventually, though.
Kai Havertz was talking to Andres Kötter