Despite a painful recovery which cast doubt over his long-term career, Ilkay Gündogan is in line for a Germany return. The midfielder is honored to be back, let alone be mentioned as a potential Schweinsteiger successor.
After almost a year of absence due to persistent and frustrating injuries, Ilkay Gündogan is back with the German national team and has his eyes set on the empty spot left by former captain Bastian Schweinsteiger. He is in line to play his first international match since November 2015, against Czech Republic on Saturday.
German legend Schweinsteiger played his last international against Finland in an emotional send-off at the end of August. Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has taken over Schweinsteiger's captaincy, however his squad place remains available to be fought for.
Gündogan, who is in the beginning of his career with Manchester City in the English Premier League having signed in the summer, is likely to face competition from two players now also playing outside of Germany in Juventus' Sami Khedira and Real Madrid's Toni Kroos.
"I would be absolutely delighted if my career ended up anything like Bastian Schweinsteiger's, both at club and international level," Gündogan said speaking at a press conference.
"We all know what he has done for German football and it is an honor to be likened to him. However, I will try and bring my own style of play to the team."
A long road to recovery
Gündogan's injury troubles have been well-known since his time with Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. He missed over 100 matches through injury during his time with Dortmund and the start to his career in England was also delayed by a knee injury. However, the midfielder never lost courage and belief that he would make a return to football.
"When you are out for as long as I was, you start to question whether you will ever be able to play at the same level and if you will ever return to full fitness," Gündogan, who was also out for over one year between 2013 and 2014 with spinal issues, explained.
"But I never lost my courage or belief and knew that I could come back from it."
The 25-year old has expressed a desire to enjoy the moment, should he be called upon by Joachim Löw in Hamburg at the weekend. Gündogan has enjoyed every moment of his start with Manchester City having already scored his first goal for the club.
"For me, the Premier League is the strongest league in the world," Gündogan said. "It is extremely demanding and so is Pep Guardiola. When you listen to what he has to say, you realize he is a world class coach."