Manuel Mbom thought carefully and then decided in favor of his mother country Germany. The U21 international is proud of the black eagle on his chest.
An emotional week lies behind Manuel Mbom. “To decide something like this at the age of 21 is something final,” said Mbom after his third game for the U21 national team. The native of Göttingen, whose father comes from Cameroon, made a conscious and irrevocable decision in favor of Germany with this commitment. He was and is “proud to wear the eagle on his chest”.
In an interview with the German Football Association (DFB), Mbom made it clear that this decision is anything but self-evident: “I have two hearts in me, it will always stay that way”.
This is one of the reasons why the defender wanted to “discuss the whole thing again intensively and in peace with my family” before the 3-2 win against Israel last Thursday. This was followed by “the clear decision to play for Germany” and not for his homeland Cameroon.
Mbom, who has played in all junior national teams since the U15, is aware of the special situation of being allowed to wear the “black eagle on his chest”. “That is what every child who falls in love with football wants,” said the 21-year-old in the documentary “Black Eagles”, which thematizes the experiences of black footballers in the DFB jersey.
“It is good to turn this symbol, which is so important to Germany, a little to illuminate it from a different perspective,” said Mbom, referring to the past.
In the documentary, the former national players Erwin Kostedde, Jimmy Hartwig and Gerald Asamoah reported regular racist hostility.
Mbom is proud of its origins
“The N-word was used a lot,” said Jordan Torunarigha from Hertha BSC, who was insulted with monkey sounds at the cup game at Schalke in February 2020. With Manuel Mbom, the discrimination was expressed in a more subtle way: “The way people look at me or treat me, I noticed that I have a different skin color.”
Unlike Kostedde in the 1950s and 1960s, the Werder Bremen professional never had the feeling “that I want to get rid of my skin color. It’s more that I think my skin color is cool and that I am proud of it”.
Ten players from the current U21 squad could still play for another association, but they have chosen the DFB. “I’m not so drawn there that I really want to play for Nigeria now,” said debutant Kevin Schade (19) last week. Former US junior player Malik Tillman (19) also sees the eagle on his chest as “a special honor”.
With three wins in the first three European Championship qualifiers, the U21s traveled to Szeged on Sunday under their new Italian head coach Antonio Di Salvo. There the defending champion will meet Hungary on Tuesday (5:30 p.m. / ProSieben Maxx).
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