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Deniz Undav eyes Germany debut and shot at Euro 2024 squad

BERLIN (AP) — Deniz Undav’s goals for Stuttgart this season have earned the forward his first call-up for Germany for the upcoming friendlies against France and the Netherlands.

On Saturday, he could make his debut playing against French star Kylian Mbappé in Lyon, or it could come Tuesday against the Dutch in Frankfurt.

“To be honest I don’t care who I’m playing against. I just hope that when I come in, I give everything and that’s the only thing that matters to me,” Undav said Thursday. “Hopefully the two test games are positive and then we can see.”

If Undav impresses Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann, he could even make the European Championship squad. Germany hosts the tournament this summer and could benefit from Undav’s goals and drive.

Undav is one of six new call-ups made by Nagelsmann as the coach attempts a shakeup to get the German team out of its decline.

“Deniz is very talented between the lines, someone who moves a lot in central positions and his passing is clean in the final pass,” Germany teammate Niclas Füllkrug said of the 27-year-old forward.

Füllkrug, who has 10 goals in 13 appearances for Germany, knows Undav after twice losing to his Stuttgart team with Borussia Dortmund this season. Stuttgart knocked Dortmund out of the German Cup and Undav scored when Stuttgart won their league meeting. They meet again in the Bundesliga on April 6.

For now though, they’re teammates.

“We’ve already done one or two training sessions together, and we were on the same team together,” Füllkrug said. “We worked quite well in harmony at times, and I also liked it because he’s someone who always has the urge to move forward and looks for the last ball and doesn’t have the urge the pass back. That’s where I think his great strengths are. Of course, he also has a nose for where the ball will fall.”

Undav has 15 goals in 25 games this season for Stuttgart, where he’s enjoying another loan spell from Premier League club Brighton.

It’s been a fast ascent for a player who largely escaped attention since making his senior debut for TSV Havelse at fourth-tier level in April 2015.

Four years ago, Undav was still playing in Germany’s third division for SV Meppen, where his performances earned a switch to Belgian team Union Saint-Gilloise.

Brighton signed Undav in January 2022 and loaned him back to Union for the rest of the season. He scored five goals for the English team before being loaned out again — to Stuttgart’s benefit.

Stuttgart is third in the Bundesliga and closing in on Champions League qualification.

Undav could also have played for Turkey, but said Thursday that his preference was always to play for Germany.

“I grew up here. I like it very much here. I’ve very little connection with Turkey, to be honest. The option was there, but for me it was very clear that I wanted to play for Germany.”

Undav stressed he’s a team player, happy to be involved whether it’s on the field or from the bench.

“I try to help the team. I think that’s the most important thing, whether you play from the beginning or not,” Undav said. “The team is above everything and I always try to be positive, to bring good vibes, and if I’m to play, to give it everything.”


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