Interview: Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund

Image Credit ( IMAGO Images)

How would you describe your first weeks back in the Bundesliga with Dortmund?

“My first weeks have been brilliant. I’ve been welcomed like family. But I’m just happy to be back playing football. When I’m playing football, I’m at my happiest. I’m just grateful to be back.”

Did you miss the stadiums here?

“Definitely. They’re iconic stadiums, especially the home stadium of BVB. Very happy.”

What does it mean to wear the number 10 shirt?

“Growing up watching Ronaldinho on YouTube and things like this, I’ve always admired number 10. I feel like number 10 is just an important number on the field. A creative player like myself who scores and assists other people. That’s why I love the number.”

Is it not surprising that something like a shirt number is so important to players?

“Definitely. I feel like everyone growing up playing football, always has a special number. For example, Jude [Bellingham], he loves 22. That’s a special number for him. I can understand that. When you have a special number that means something to you, it means the world when you get to wear it playing professionally. It’s important.”

What are your greatest strengths as a player?

“I would probably say taking players on one-on-one. My IQ for the game, just knowing where players are, and finding the best option and the best pass for my teammates. And definitely one-on-one. I take my chances with one-on-one chances and assist my teammates.”

Would you say your game IQ has improved in recent years?

“I feel like your IQ can never change. Once you’ve perfected your precision of a pass, I think it always stays with you. Of course, you can always become better at certain things. Again, you take it week by week of practising this in training and having the belief of your other players making the runs so I can find my teammates.”

What did Edin Terzic tell you your role should be in the coming months?

“He just said to take it game by game. And that’s what I’m doing. My teammates know me from the past. Some of the players that are here now played on other teams, so I played against them. And also some of my teammates that are here, like Jamie [Bynoe-Gittens] for example, coming up through the ranks. He’s got to see me play at the highest level. My teammates know what I can do, but also it’s a team game, so it’s not just all about me, it’s about my teammates. If all of us put 100 per cent in, we can get great results.”

What do you want to achieve with Dortmund?

“When I first came, Dortmund weren’t in the best position. But I believe if we take it game by game and keep winning step by step, I feel like we should be top two minimal and qualify for the Champions League.”

Which of your goals in Germany did you like the most?

“I would probably say the goal in the Pokal final against Leipzig. I feel like because the nerves were so high, and as a team that was our first final together, so it was really important for me to get that first goal. And I feel like it just calmed the nerves. From there we just elevated through the game.”

Do you remember the celebrations in the changing room after you won the DFB Cup?

“It was iconic. Great memories. Plus, the whole season itself was amazing. I felt like we deserved a trophy at the end of that, so it was all worth it.”

Do you remember your goal against Schalke?

“Yes, I remember. It was away. That was my first derby goal. It was a special goal as well because my nan had recently passed away at that time. So, scoring that goal, and dedicating it to her was amazing. But also it was amazing for the team.”

What was it like to play in front of the Yellow Wall again?

“It was amazing. I always get chills when I play in front of this type of crowd. They always cheer me on. Positive energy – it’s really important for us players when we go out on the pitch, to know that everyone’s behind us 100 per cent. It felt good.”

Is it still as loud as it was the first time?

“It’s probably even gotten louder from last time. But this feeling, you can never take it away from me. Like I said, it’s like goosebumps every time I play.”

How did your friendship with Marco Reus start?

“He welcomed me as soon as I got to BVB. Obviously, over the years you become closer, when you start playing regularly, constantly. I think the understanding between me and him is at a top level, where we know what each other’s going to do. For example, when I came back to BVB, I assisted him straightaway. It’s because he understood what I was going to do, and I understood where he was going to be. So, the connection we have for each other on the field is crazy for us to understand each other like we do.”

Do you know who your last Bundesliga assist was for before you left?
“It was Marco, right? It’s crazy. That’s why I said it was meant to be.”

Edin Terzic recently said that Jadon Sancho has never had to think about his touch. Is he right?

“That’s not a big concern for me when I receive a ball. But you still need to practice your control. It’s really important, especially in tight spaces. It just calms everyone down, especially if the other team is constantly pressuring you and you are calm with the ball, especially in tight spaces. It just calms everything down. I don’t concentrate on how I control the ball. It’s second nature to me.”

But you used to train that part a lot?

“Definitely. I feel like you have to train to perfect everything, even with skills and understanding of the game. You have to always train this. This will never stop.”

So, control with your heel like against Köln just comes naturally for you?

“I think it just comes naturally. I never decide on how I’m going to touch the ball. It’s just wherever my body’s positioned, however, I feel comfortable in doing it. I just touch the ball down. It was a nice touch to be fair. When I looked back at it, it looked very smooth. It was good.”

You have ‘Kennington’ on your boots. Why?

“That’s where I grew up. That’s where it all started, me playing in the cage with my friends in my estate. That’s where all the skills came from, just playing one-v-ones, five-v-five. And obviously, cage football was all about nutmegs and embarrassing the opponent, so that’s where it all started. And I can never forget where I grew up. I always remember.”

There’s a big discussion in Germany right now that there aren’t any street footballers anymore. What’s your thought there?

“When you play cage football, it’s a different type of skill, in tighter, small areas. So, if someone came to press me, in my head I have three to four moves I could do, just because of cage football with how tight and small the area is. Nutmegs was always my thing, so that’s why… I don’t purposely look for a nutmeg. It just comes naturally. When people press me, sometimes I just nutmeg to get me out of the situation. It’s just second nature.”

Is that the biggest difference between street football and a youth academy?

“To be fair, cage football and academy football is very different. Cage football is freedom. You could express yourself. Whereas at an academy it’s like a system. You have to do it by the rules. Or maybe the coach. If the coach doesn’t like something, he might tell you off. Lucky for me, cage football, I was doing it till around 12 years old. I wasn’t in an academy before that.”

We spoke with David Godley, your former youth coach at Watford. Do you remember him?

“A very special coach for me. He’s a good guy. He understood where I came from. He gave me probably time to adjust and adapt to my different surroundings at the time because that was my first time leaving home. And it was difficult for me, leaving my friends to be in a system where there were other players and different coaches. It was weird for me at the time. But David Godley just knew that I had something special. He always understood if I got in trouble or didn’t get in trouble. He would always talk to me, pull me to the side and speak to me.”

Your former coach said you’ve always been mentally very strong. Where does that come from?

“Again, I love football. Anywhere on the pitch, I always want the ball and try and impact the game in any shape or form. I always want the ball, I always want to try and express myself, if not help the team, if not help other players to get into the rhythm of the game. I always want the ball at my feet.”

Your coach also said you trained more than everyone else. What were things like back then?

“Like I said, cage football helped me a lot through my time growing up. It becomes second nature after a while when you’ve done it for so long, especially when I was growing up, it was just football after football with my friends after school.”

Are there any coaches or other people who’ve had a particular impact on your career?

“It’s not just one coach or one friend that has. I feel like everyone has played their part. Even good or bad. Because if it’s bad, you learn from it, and it makes you better. And if it’s good, then it’s good. All the coaches I’ve had, good or bad, I don’t take it out on them because the experience is part of life. If it’s bad, then you learn from it and then you move on. If it’s good, then it’s good. I feel like a lot of coaches, friends and family have played a part in my life to get where I am, so I’m very grateful.”

Jadon Sancho during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and VfL Bochum 1848 at Signal Iduna Park on 28 January 2024. Image Credit (Bundesliga Content Hub Images)