At his club, probably the best in the world, İlkay Gündoğan collects titles and recognition. With the national team he is more of a follower, his reputation in Germany suffers as a result. A search for an explanation.
Now, a good ten years after the first attempt, the third attempt should be ready. In any case, İlkay Gündoğan with Manchester City is the big favorite in the final of the Champions League against Inter Milan on Saturday (June 10th, 2023, from 8.50 p.m. in the live ticker at sportschau.de).
Around 25 people, Rainer Konietzka estimates, will then be in the SV Gelsenkirchen-Hessler 06 clubhouse to watch what “our İlly” is doing.
“Our İlly” never forgets his homeland
Konietzka is the chairman of the club where Gündoğan has his home. Bratwurst and sucuk, beer and cola are among other things on the menu on Saturday. The bill goes to İlkay Gündoğan, who has already paid a much higher fee for the club. The artificial turf pitch in the Jahn Stadium cost 640,000 euros, the city of Gelsenkirchen contributed 340,000, the rest went to the club and Gündoğan.
“Our İlly” never forgets his homeland. You will therefore feverishly with him that he is now after the third final in the Champions League finally able to lift the trophy, and then also as captain.
Gündoğan would then return to his homeland as the winner of the treble, because he scored two goals against city rivals United to victory in the FA Cup, and he won the English championship for the fifth time this season. The German national team will play their third game from the three-man series in June on Tuesday (June 20, 2023) in Gelsenkirchen against Colombia.
Hardly any success with the National team
A signed Gündoğan national jersey hangs on the wall in the Hessler 06 clubhouse. “Unser İlly” has made 66 appearances for Germany, but never in a knockout game at a major tournament. At the European Championship 2020, the then national coach Joachim Löw did without Gündoğan in the round of 16 against England after he had previously played the three group games.
Gündoğan was in the squad for the 2012 European Championship but didn’t play a minute. Gündoğan missed the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships, which led to the title and semi-finals, due to protracted injuries. The World Cups in 2018 and 2022 led to a fiasco, Gündoğan made four appearances.
Due to his club career and football skills, İlkay Gündoğan should be a formative figure of the German national team, maybe even the formative one. But he isn’t. Why not?
He already gave one of the answers in 2019. When asked by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” whether he felt “undervalued”, Gündoğan said:
“Yes, I feel a little underestimated, but I also understand that. I’ve just missed too much. With the national team, people mainly watch the tournaments, and I was only there twice, at the 2012 European Championship and the World Cup 2018.” Quantitatively, the balance has improved, but the impression that “our İlly” is perceived in a distorted way has remained.
That may be due to the fact that he never played for Bayern Munich, from which he was supposed to be brought, but there was no agreement.
This may also be due to the fact that he was never and never will be “our İlly” for everyone. Just as little as Mesut Özil, also born in Gelsenkirchen, was never “our Mesut”.
Whistle after the photo with Erdoğan
The famous photo that was taken shortly before the 2018 World Cup with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also showed Gündoğan. In a test match in Leverkusen, part of the audience whistled at him every time he touched the ball. The German Football Association tried to nip the discussion, which should have been about xenophobia and racism, in the bud. This caused more damage, but unlike Özil, Gündoğan continued to play for Germany and he intends to continue to do so.
İlkay Gundoğan is 32 years old. He will be 33 at the end of October and that shows a bit how good he is. Only very rarely do footballers born in the last quarter make it to the top. When you are young, you have to assert yourself against competition, some of which are much older and therefore physically better. İlkay Gündoğan probably only played one season in the youth team at FC Schalke 04 before returning to Hessler 06.
2016 with Guardiola to Manchester City
At senior level, Gündoğan made an attempt at 1. FC Nürnberg, only to become German champion and national team player at Borussia Dortmund under coach Jürgen Klopp. He also took Thomas Tuchel’s first year at BVB with him before he joined Pep Guardiola in 2016 Manchester City began.
“You can’t imagine how good the boy is. İlkay was one of City’s best signings ever,” said Guardiola, who means things seriously if he doesn’t include at least three “top” in the sentence.
Klopp, Tuchel, Guardiola – Gündoğan knows and has trained in all facets of modern football. Hardly anyone is tactically better trained, able to adapt better to tactical and system changes in the relatively few practice sessions in the national team.
Perhaps there is too little time for the team-mates to adjust to İlkay Gündoğan, to his ideas, to his quick transfers, to his positional play, which a player with so much experience under Guardiola masters perfectly.
Ilkay Gundogan and Manchester City – that fits and fits so well that the FC Barcelona should now be ready to offer the boy from the Ruhr area a three-year contract. Trainer Xavi Gündoğan seems to be giving him the recognition that is otherwise only certain in Germany in the clubhouse of SV Gelsenkirchen-Hessler 06.