Real Madrid forward Borja Mayoral is now four months into his loan stint with Wolfsburg and opened his account earlier this month against Hertha Berlin. Diario AS caught up with him this week to hear how the Bundesliga has been treating him.
How would you rate the season so far?
It's been very positive. I've been improving as time has gone on. At the start, I wasn't getting many chances and I wasn't even getting into the squad but I've been working hard and I've got over those initial difficulties and now I'm playing. I think I've done whenever the coach has given me an opportunity.
What has it been like to adapt to life in Germany at such a young age?
It's a big change and it's quite tough. It's difficult at the start because you miss your family, friends, those in your close circle… It's a shock to the system to move abroad when you are only 19 but I'm coping well and I'm happy.
How are you getting on with the learning the language and many Spaniards struggle with the change in eating habits and cuisine, has that been an issue for you?
The food's not as good as it is back home in Spain (laughs) but I am getting to used to it. The language is difficult and sometimes I don't understand everything that people are saying, but I am going to German classes twice a week and I'm getting better.
What's been the highlight of your time in Germany so far?
Everything that has happened to me has been good. I am learning new things and that is a new experience for me. I'm still 19 but I am maturing and growing as a player and as a person. It's turning out well for me.
What differences have you noticed between the Spanish game and the German one?
There is more contact in the German game, it's more physical… In Spain, it's more about technique - control and passing - every team wants to move the ball about well. That's the main difference.
Are there any differences in ideas on training?
Yes. I struggled to get used to training sessions at the beginning. I was having quite a bad time for the first two months but little by little I am adapting and now I am working just like any other member of the squad.
Adapting to new circumstances
You were one of the first names to go on the team sheet when you were at Castilla, what is it like to be not playing so often and having to fight to win a place in the side?
I'm learning things which I've never been through before - I think it's good for me to be experiencing these things while I am 19 - it'll benefit me in the future. Right at the start, I wasn't even getting in the team list and that was difficult to take. It really made me do a lot of thinking. I was faced with two options: let it affect me or fight to change the situation. I chose the second option and now I am getting games, the coach is counting on me and that is very positive for me.
When you are playing and score a goal, afterwards your mobile phone is full of messages but when you are not even in the list, no one talks to you… But that's part of all of this - football, I accept it's that way.
What's the Bundesliga like?
Very competitive. Bayern are top now but they have struggled… It's a good league. The stadiums are full and what really surprised me was that, even when the team is losing, the fans never stop applauding and cheering you on.
Are Madrid closely following how you are getting on?
Yes. There is always someone from the club asking how I am getting along, even when I was going through a bad time and not playing. It's nice to know that Madrid care about how things are going, it helps me a lot.
Is your objective still to return to Real Madrid?
Definitely. I've been a madridista since I was a boy and my dream is to play for Madrid. It's where I grew up.
Grateful to Zidane
Zidane always championed you at Castilla and when you moved up to the first team.
I will always be eternally grateful to Zidane. He was the first coach who took a chance on me, in the beginning with Castilla then later with the senior side. He gave me the confidence to play, regardless of my age - he just told me to be myself. Starting three matches with the first team being so young for me is unforgettable.
Jesús Vallejo has been the big sensation in Germany in recent months, how does he seem to you?
Everyone's talking about him - in Germany and in Spain. I get asked about him quite a lot. He deserves all of the good things that are happening to him. He's an incredible defender - his concentration is faultless, he's quick… and he makes the team more complete, he is a top bloke
Learning from the masters
Looking back to when you were younger, who was your idol?
I always idolized Raúl. He'd always score goals, he was always there… Watching him helps me to improve and learn.
Which player in the current team do you look up to?
Benzema. I've been studying what he does since I was in the Under-16s. And I've been lucky enough to spend a year training with him and I always watch him closely, and try to take in the little details and his movements.
Have you set yourself a number of goals to reach in 2017?
No, I haven't set myself any figures. I've scored one so far and I'll just keep continuing to work hard on my game so that the next ones comes along on their own…