Last season, Ansgar Knauff was still part of Borussia Dortmund’s U19 youth group. The 18-year-old is now an integral part of the BVB professional team – after a year that has gone very quickly for Knauff.
In an interview with SPOX and goal Knauff talks about his way from Lower Saxony to Dortmund, the famous picture with Jürgen Klopp and life in the BVB boarding school.
In addition, Knauff can look back on his first steps in the professional field and his surprising starting eleven debut in the Champions League at Manchester City.
Mr Knauff, before you moved from the youth of Hannover 96 to Borussia Dortmund in the junior performance center in summer 2016, you grew up in Göttingen with your single mother Andrea. How did you get into football?
Ansgar Knauff: It all started at the 2006 World Cup. Back then, I was sitting in front of the TV with my mother and watching football for the first time. We really cheered at all the Germany games. I liked that so much that afterwards I said to her: Mom, I want to play soccer too now. She then found out which clubs are in the area and how it all works.
Knob: Exactly. At first I only went to training a few times, but I enjoyed it, so I really wanted to continue. So she signed me up. That was the starting shot of my career, so to speak, I was there for nine long years until 2015.
Did you have a favorite club?
Knob: After the World Cup, I basically started to watch a lot of football. A favorite club has not really emerged. I liked Dortmund and Bayern because they played the best but also different types of football in the Bundesliga. The games in the Champions League were also part of my standard repertoire. To see Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi kick was a revelation.
What about role models?
Knob: I would call it Kylian Mbappe. His way of playing soccer really inspired me and I think it’s extremely strong.
At the age of twelve you took part in the “Opel Family Cup” with Göttingen in 2014, you finished second and player of the tournament. The trophies were presented by the then BVB coach Jürgen Klopp. Did you know that there is this picture of you looking up to Klopp as a little toddler?
Knob: Yes, I’ve known that for a long time. It was a long way to get this picture. We qualified for the final tournament in Dortmund over four rounds played across Germany. That was a huge success for our troop. The trips there or the overnight stays in the hotels were great experiences. We were then at a BVB game in the stadium.
Knob: No, he was there most of the time and also something like the face of the tournament. In any case, when he handed me the trophy, he told me that I played well and congratulated me.
It is said that Klopp then invited you to the U13 trial training at BVB. Is that correct?
Knob: Not like that, but it was part of my award that I got a pair of soccer shoes and my mother and I were invited to Dortmund for two days. Then I trained with the U13 and we went to a game in the stadium again. At that time, however, there was no prospect of moving to BVB one day. That was still far too far away.