SEEFELD, Austria (Reuters) – Germany defender Mats Hummels is ready to play a leadership role at the European Championship starting next month after returning to the national team following a “painful” two-year absence.
The 32-year-old Hummels, along with fellow 2104 World Cup winner Thomas Mueller, has been called up for the first time since 2019 after coach Joachim Loew interrupted a team overhaul ahead of the tournament.
“Thomas and me were always proud to be here and it hurt when that happed (in 2019), no denying that,” Hummels, who won the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund this season, told an online news conference from their training base in Austria.
“But I had set the goal to work my way back into the team again. I wanted to do it as ambition but also as an honour to play for Germany.”
Hummels and attacking midfielder Mueller’s services have been badly missing, with Germany far from convincing in recent months, and having suffered a 6-0 loss to Spain in November for their worst competitive result.
Loew hopes the pair will strengthen the backline and improve the team’s low conversion rate up front while also helping to handle pressure during matches.
“Winning mentality is a nice term but it all about putting in the passion and effort into each training. Thomas and me are players who do, but we are not the only ones. I want to take on the task as leader,” Hummels said.
“It is also about to push against pressure, to resist pressure during matches, not become passive but play a game where you battle on and off the ball to take control. It is a task that, among others, Thomas and me have to do.”
The pair will have only two warm-up matches to find their footing in the team until the tournament start in 10 days, facing Denmark on Wednesday and Latvia on June 7.
“These games are extremely important. We do not want to have a light training session in those matches but to play like we want to play in the Euro,” Hummels added.
“We want from the first minute to take control and have the same intensity and quality also at the start of the tournament.”
The Germans face world champions France in their Group F opener on June 15 before also playing Hungary and Portugal.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)