Young team have time to grow

Young team have time to grow
THE PLAYERS: Shkodran Mustafi believes that the best is yet to come for Valencia whose young talents have already stirred the imagination of fans. The club are now fourth in La Liga and vying for a spot in the Champions League.

In Shkodran Mustafi's world, the future of football will be dominated by two teams clad in white - his native Germany and his club Valencia.

Just 23 years old, the centre-back, who can also play as right-back, is already a world champion after playing three matches in Die Mannschaft's triumphant World Cup campaign in Brazil last year.

A first-team regular at the Mestalla, Mustafi believes the youth and talent dripping from both Germany and Valencia will ensure that more success will follow.

"I am really happy that I made the choice to come here. I have absolutely no regrets," the World Cup winner told The Sunday Times.

"Valencia really, really wanted me. There is a plan here and I was told why they want me.

"Before I join a club, it is very important for me to speak to the coach. After talking to coach Nuno (Espirito Santo), I was impressed that Valencia are organised and professional, and have a plan to be successful."

Similarly, he credits Germany's thorough preparations, which included building their own training camp in the remote fishing village of Santo Andre, far from the prying eyes of the media and fans.

He recalled: "The players felt very free inside the camp, we didn't feel any pressure from the media waiting outside.

"There are five to six players in each house and outside of training, we spent a lot of time laughing and relaxing together.

"It's important for a long tournament like the World Cup. The camp took a lot of pressure away."

After finishing eighth last season and in danger of drowning in debt, Valencia were rejuvenated by Peter Lim's buyout in October.

Nuno's team are now fourth in the league and in contention for a Champions League place.

Mustafi said: "People tend to forget that we are a very young team and we are already doing very well.

"Being young, we can play for a lot of years in the future and we can grow together."

And for the former Sampdoria player, who arrived at the Mestalla last August for a reported 8 million euros (S$11.6 million), apart from youth and talent, there is a third factor that will drive his club and country to glory: Desire.

"Both teams have a lot of talent. In Valencia, we are hungry for success after so many bad years.

"In Germany, we won the World Cup but we are hungry for more even though many of our players had already won more than 50-60 caps," he said.

"I think Germany can match what Spain had achieved (two European Championships and one World Cup) and the future is bright for Valencia."

This article was first published on Apr 19, 2015.
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