Defender Armel Bella-Kotchap, who was nominated for the first time, sees himself in the national football team as a trainee who wants to learn. The 20-year-old prefers not to dream of the World Cup in Qatar just yet.
“I’m the youngest here and I still have a lot to learn,” said the 20-year-old central defender, who switched from Bundesliga side VfL Bochum to England to FC Southampton for around €11m in the summer, upon his arrival at the DFB team hotel the gates of Frankfurt.
The call from national coach Hansi Flick totally surprised and amazed the U21 international. “I didn’t know the number. I was very surprised, but also very happy,” reported Bella-Kotchap, who could celebrate his international debut in the Nations League games against Hungary and England. But first he wants to show himself in training and “convince the coach” with his qualities.
“I can learn a lot here first”
The 1.90 meter tall central defender spoke almost in awe of his suddenly new teammates from top clubs such as FC Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund. “I can learn a lot here. I play here with players who play at a very high level,” he said.
Flick attests Bella-Kotchap a “very good development” in Southampton, where he is now being promoted by former Bundesliga coach Ralph Hasenhüttl. “We want to see him with us this week and get an idea. He defends well at Southampton and in the Premier League, that says a lot,” said Flick.
Bella-Kotchap could even jump on the World Cup train at the last minute. The physically strong defender is above all a perspective player for the home European Championship in 2024. “For us it is also important what comes next,” said Flick on the sighting of talents in the senior team.