Jean Zimmer is one of the most promising talents in German football right now and has worked his way up through the 1. FC Kaiserslautern ranks to become one of their key players. VAVEL were given the opportunity to speak to the versatile youngster and Zimmer made some fantastic points throughout.
"A very good start to the season"
Zimmer, despite ending up with a bloody nose, was to the fore of the Red Devils' opening game triumph, "With the 3-1 away win against MSV Duisburg it was, for the team and me personally, a very good start to the season." He did not want the team to get carried away, however: "We must stay tuned in at this level and continue working. I'm generally happy that we are finally underway again and that we can prove ourselves on the pitch."
It's always important to get a good start, especially when Kaiserslautern are aiming for a Bundesliga return. Even though they missed out on the final day, Zimmer admitted he didn't have much time to focus on it. "For me, the last season went relatively quickly," he explained. "Two days after the final game I was already traveling with the DFB. So I didn't have much time to process the whole thing."
The 21-year-old continued, "After that the holiday was announced, there I was resting my legs. The football business is just so fast that one is well-advised to focus on the new season. We must now concentrate on that, the past season is gone." It's fair to say that Kaiserslautern have done exactly that so far.
Last year provided Zimmer with a platform to shine in his breakthrough campaign, one which he felt went well: "The last season was my first real professional season. In that time I have played at many different positions, which is out of my control but it went very well."
"I did a good job last year"
When it comes down to the black and white, the right-sided player believes that the main goal is to help the team. "To me it is relatively unimportant where I play, as long as I can help the team there. I did very good job in the last year, this can be seen, for example, in my assists," he said.
"I believe that it was a quite indescribable experience." That was the reaction of Zimmer to being selected for the Germany under-21 squad. He may not have made it to the finals in the Czech Republic, but was still something he will cherish: "It is a massive honour to ever be allowed to play for the national team, wear the eagle on the chest and to train together with world class players such as Emre Can and Marc-André ter Stegen."
"I will never forget this," he continued. "Even if I was not participating right to the end of the European championship. Now it lies with me to continue the performances of the last few years to be selected and, perhaps, even be allowed to play at the Olympic games in 2016."
Over the summer, Kaiserslautern's young core departed - leaving just Zimmer and Marius Müller as the only two remaining Germany under-21 internationals. Willi Orban, Dominique Heintz, Philipp Hofmann, Kerem Demirbay and Amin Younes all left the club, though Zimmer is coping well, "It is not yet the case that I miss them a lot, at least not in the team."
"Football is really high-paced and it can happen overnight"
The 21-year-old continued, "I played together with Willi and Dominique for a very long time. But as I said football is really high-paced and, therefore, it can happen overnight that a player has left the team and then a new player has arrived."
The theme of young talent his flown through into this campaign, with Kosta Runjaic still at the helm: "This year we have, like last season, a very similar young team that I can identify well with. I will see Willi as an opponent on the pitch again soon and I hope also with the other guys, so that I can see them again."
Zimmer believes that because they are "a young group" that it makes it "easy to integrate into the team", because "in a way you already know each other well". He suggests this is down to the fact that, "The majority of the players are from the Bundesliga or the 2. Bundesliga, that means that we were already once opponents."
As for those new signings, it's clear who has shone in the early stages of the season: "Daniel Halfar is the player who has impressed me most. He is amazing at reading the game, he is technically superb and possesses great vision. In the game last Friday against Duisburg you have seen that he made the decisive play for the opening goal."
"Promotion is a difficult goal to achieve"
Zimmer feels that, "It is as important as it was in the last season to grow closer as a group and to have a good season." He said the team wants to "play with each other for as long as it is possible". In relation to reaching the Bundesliga, he believes: "Promotion is a difficult goal to achieve because, for example, other teams have increased financial capabilities compared to us."
The Fritz-Walter-Stadion is one of the most famous grounds in Germany, and playing there is "a feeling that I [Zimmer] can't describe". He told of how he "used to go to the stadium myself as a fan and have, when I was very young, witnessed a part of Kaiserslautern's glory days." Zimmer added, "This is a big club, therefore it is an absolute honour for me to be playing here. I am now into my thirteenth year here and it's just great fun."
"It is still to soon to give out a prediction," were his thoughts as to who will be joining the German elite next season." However, he did single out a few teams that could challenge, "I think that Leipzig will play a big role but also the traditional teams like Freiburg, Union Berlin or Nürnberg. These traditional clubs have a 12th man with their fans. We definitely know, from the Betze, that they have our backs."
Zimmer had been linked with a move to Eintracht Frankfurt, something he says that "makes me [Zimmer] proud". He elaborated, "Through this you realise that, not only want you do but what you have always dreamed of doing, you do well. I must decide for myself what the right offer is, when it comes, and what works and what doesn't." However, he did add: "The rumours that aren't true are the worst part of it."