The distinctive curly head was not recognizable at first. Leon Goretzka wore the black bicycle helmet that almost all national players wore when they biked across the grounds of their outfitter Adidas from their accommodation to the Adi Dassler Stadium. But Goretzka was still unmistakably there, that was the good news at the first training session the national team had in their European Championship quarters. And with that, all 26 professionals were on the pitch together for the first time in bright sunshine in Herzogenaurach – in time for the start of the final preparation for the opening game at the European Championship against France on 15. June.
Opening match against France comes too soon for Goretzka
Goretzka had missed the end of the season due to a muscle fiber tear suffered in early May. During the national team's training camp in Seefeld, he was only able to train individually, but now he is back in the team's circle. Against France, however, the central midfielder will still be missing.
"He is not yet eligible for the first game, that would be too close," said DFB director Oliver Bierhoff. Much to the regret of all involved. "Leon has a great personality and is an incredibly important player for us – also because of his ability to always go deep and score goals," Bierhoff says. But hopes are high that Goretzka will play in the second group match against Portugal on 19. June can be there. "I am firmly convinced that he will still play an important role for us in this tournament," says Bierhoff.
Digital round of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel
And on Thursday evening Goretzka was able to participate without any problems: The national players were at the start of their European Championship mission with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the digital round of talks arranged. A "huge appreciation", is that, thinks Oliver Bierhoff. "Everyone realizes that it is a national matter and the result is important for all of us."