Julian Draxler scored his first goal in World Cup qualifying as Germany defeated Northern Ireland 2-0. While this may have strengthened his position in the national team, the same old worries await him in Wolfsburg.
A good hour after the final whistle, Julian Draxler slipped past the TV cameras, parked himself off to the side of the waiting journalists and tapped on his mobile phone. The 23-year-old had his baseball cap pulled down low and beside him stood his small suitcase.
"I got some messages about my goal, but nothing out of the ordinary," the attacking player said. "But I was actually just waiting for my family."
Draxler's parents had followed Germany's 2-0 win from the stands, a match that featured a good performance by their son. Draxler beamed as he accepted his parents' congratulations.
"I'm relieved, I hadn't scored for the past weeks," the national team member explained. "It was great to score a goal today, it was important for my self-confidence and my ego."
Draxler, who had already left a good impression in his previous two World Cup-qualifying matches, put Germany in the lead with his goal in the 13th minute - a strike hit from the top of the box. It was the third start in a row for Draxler, who was a member of the German squad that won the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. This is an indication of the trust placed in him by national team coach Joachim Löw.
"I believe I performed well at the European Championships and worked by way towards inclusion in the first 11," he said. "We have a lot of good players at my position, so getting the start in the past two games is a good sign."
In fact, the Wolfsburg attacker does seems to have played himself into the first team through his form in France in the summer, where he also rewarded Löw's trust in him. And Draxler is continuing to make a good case for himself.
'We are in a difficult situation'
While things are going well for him with the national team Draxler continues to struggle for form at Wolfsburg and his critics have been getting louder. They accuse him of not trying hard enough, or of not having the right attitude. Following his demand that he be allowed to leave the club last summer, Draxler has come in for increased scrutiny.
"The hard work continues," Draxler said. "I want to have success with my club as well."
It is simply a different environment, club and country are two different things, he said, while at the same time rejecting the suggestion that he works harder for the national team than at club level.
"We are in a difficult situation in Wolfsburg," he said."We can only get out of it by working together."
The confident attacker now hopes to be able to transfer the positive energy from his national team experiences to his club. However, the former Schalke player knows that this is easier said than done, as complaints get louder with every mistake he makes. Draxler and his teammates haven't won any of their last five games. And he hasn't scored a single goal for his club this season. Just like his friend Mario Gomez, who joined Wolfsburg during the summer transfer window.
"We are focused on the next task at hand. We can't change anything else anyway," Draxler said.
One of his main goals for the future is to be part of the German team that will seek to defend their World Cup title at the 2018 tournament in Russia, although it seems unlikely that he will still be in Wolfsburg by that time.
On this evening in Hanover Draxler enjoyed his last few hours with the national team - for now - in the knowledge that just being part of the squad is a special privilege.
"I enjoy every minute of it and I regard myself as a part of this team, because it's simply a lot of fun," he said.