Football

Germany At Euro 2024: Ilkay Gundogan Relishing 'Huge Honour' To Lead GER At European Championships

The three-time champions will host their first major international tournament since the 2006 World Cup, where they finished third after losing to eventual champions Italy in the semi-finals

Gundogan (L) cannot wait to lead Germany out on Friday
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Ilkay Gundogan says it will be "a huge honour and privilege" to lead host nation Germany in what will be a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" at Euro 2024. (More Football News)

The three-time champions will host their first major international tournament since the 2006 World Cup, where they finished third after losing to eventual champions Italy in the semi-finals. 

Julian Nagelsmann's side are seeking an upturn in fortunes, having suffered back-to-back World Cup group-stage exits, while they were beaten by England in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.

Germany, whose final two warm-up games brought a goalless draw with Ukraine and a narrow 2-1 win over Greece, have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 12 games at major tournaments, last keeping a clean sheet against Slovakia in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

DFB will launch the tournament at Munich Football Arena on Friday against Scotland, a team they have beaten in both previous major tournament encounters at the 1986 World Cup and 1992 European Championship.

And former Manchester City captain Gundogan, who skippered the Citizens to an historic treble in 2022-23, hopes he can use his leadership skills to inspire his nation to a strong showing on home soil.

"It's a huge honour, a huge privilege to be captain," the Barcelona midfielder said. "I have experienced an awful lot in my career, lots of great times but also lots of difficult times. I kind of know what it takes to be successful.

"All I can do is lead from the front, both on and off the pitch. I think the people of Germany – not just the fans – deserve some success.

"We know it'll be a tough game against Scotland. They have a lot of quality, lots of stars from the Premier League, so it's going to be a challenge, but we are confident.

"We're very well set up, full of quality and there's lots of potential in the squad; we just have to deliver now. We haven't done ourselves justice in recent tournaments.

"We hope this time that we benefit somewhat from the euphoria in our home country and the support of the fans, and that this carries us along. But we know we first have to earn the trust of our fans on the pitch. If we do, I think we will go a long way.

"Playing a [tournament] in your own country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so obviously it feels really special."

Gundogan also praised the impact of Nagelsmann, who is preparing for his first major international tournament as head coach since replacing Hansi Flick last September.

The 36-year-old is aiming to become the first Germany boss to win a competition at his first attempt since Jupp Derwall at the 1980 European Championship.

"He has brought structure to the team," Gundogan observed. "He has clear ideas about what he wants, but still, there is a calmness about how the coaching team deals with the squad, and there's a sense that they have confidence in the players, which reflects well on us.

"We knew that not everything would go perfectly, we knew we would make mistakes, but we have always felt that the coach was right behind the team. We have the right set-up and are capable of producing our best, to pay back the confidence he has in us."

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