It was the perfect final act of a fantastic evening. In the 85' minute, Hoffenheim player Nico Schulz scored the winning goal for the German national team in a 2-1 defeat of Peru, and did so in his first senior international match and in his home stadium. "It was crazy how quickly it went and it felt really good. At the end, I just had a shot but didn't strike the ball cleanly", said Schulz humbly, who was lauded by the fans after the match. "The ball only ever goes in when you're in your own stadium."
The 25-year-old is the ninth Hoffenheim player to be called up to the DFB's team. National team manager Joachim Löw had put him in on the left wing from the start on. Peru were first to take the lead thanks to Luis Advincula (22'), but Julian Brandt equalised almost immediately after (25'). In an intensive game of many chances in a sold-out home Wirsol Rhein Neckar Arena (25,494 spectators), Schulz was heavily involved for the entire duration of the match and was praised by his teammates and the press after scoring the winning goal. "Debutant Schulz saves Germany against Peru" (Spiegel Online), "Schulz scores to give Germany win" (sueddeutsche.de) and "Dream debut for Nico Schulz" (Sport1.de) read the headlines.
Praise from Löw
The native Berliner, who had an excellent first season for Hoffenheim and who has now been called up by Löw as a result, did not want to rate his performance too highly and still sees room for improvement. "There are still many things which I can do better. I was at fault when we conceded, I could have dealt with that better. That was certainly quite annoying."
Nonetheless, the manager praised Schulz explicitly and suggested he would make further appearances. "The goal was certainly a bit fortunate, since the goalkeeper really should have stopped it. But I am of course very happy for Nico Schulz. He made a good impression in training", said Löw. Schulz is hoping for the next invitation from the national manager, which could be for the forthcoming international matches against the Netherlands in Amsterdam (13 October) and against France in Paris (16 October). "Of course I'm hoping to be there again the next time as these past few days have been great. If I get to know the other boys better then some things will improve while playing too", explained Schulz, who was mobbed by journalists in the interview area like no other player.
Via TSG onto further national team appearances
He was very reserved as he explained how he had experienced the days before. The former U21 national team player had watched the 0-0 draw against France from the bench. "The manager told me three days before the match against Peru that I was going to play", according to Schulz. TSG manager Julian Nagelsmann had already suggested some weeks ago that he thought Nico Schulz could be the next Hoffenheim player to appear for the German national team. When the moment came for Schulz to play with the eagle on his chest in his sporting 'lounge' in Sinsheim, he was more nervous than normal. "But that went as soon as we kicked off. I'm not 18 any more after all", he said. As someone who has only been called up relatively late at the age of 25, he beamed as he heard that Löw had envisaged further appearances for him while talking to the media.
The left back then turned his attention to his upcoming assignments for his club. "My next target is to put in good performances for TSG", explained Schulz. "We face big challenges in the Bundesliga, in the DFB Cup and in the Champions League. I'm hoping to be able to make a case for myself again." His transfer to TSG in summer 2017 was "without doubt the right move for me". At Hoffenheim, his dream of playing for the national side as he had for the youth teams has been realised. On being asked what he would take away from this fantastic evening, Nico Schulz responded: "That hard work pays off."