FourFourTwo's man in Germany, Titus Chalk, tells us more about the German midfielder heading for White Hart Lane...
He is a devoted Everton fan, loves Coldplay, Walkers crisps and beans on toast, and is the Under-21 captain of his country. Improbably, though, thatÃ¢ÂÂs Germany, home of the richly talented Schalke midfielder Lewis Holtby.
Holtby, whose dad is a Liverpudlian who served in the RAF in Germany, caught the English mediaÃ¢ÂÂs eye in 2010 while turning in man of the match showings on loan at Mainz. Suddenly, he looked like an improbable solution to EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs creative shortcomings.
Ã¢ÂÂMy childhood dream was to play for England,Ã¢ÂÂ Holtby tells FourFourTwo. Ã¢ÂÂI always wore England shirts and David Beckham was my favourite player. But once I had played for GermanyÃ¢ÂÂs Under-18s, I decided to stay loyal. I love playing for Germany and am very happy I made that choice.Ã¢ÂÂ Holtby has since earned a handful of senior caps under Joachim Low as the call from England came too late, and he was even close to making GermanyÃ¢ÂÂs Euro 2012 squad.
Schalke, meanwhile, finished third in the Bundesliga to nab Champions League football again next season, having reached the semi-finals in 2011. HoltbyÃ¢ÂÂs form Ã¢ÂÂ though interrupted by a nagging ankle injury Ã¢ÂÂ was instrumental in driving them up the table. As one half of the Royal BluesÃ¢ÂÂ double pivot with American Jermaine Jones, Ã¢ÂÂLucky LewisÃ¢ÂÂ orchestrated the teamÃ¢ÂÂs play with the precociousness that has become almost standard for GermanyÃ¢ÂÂs youngsters, even if his true calling is a little further forward.
A certain evergreen Spaniard had that post covered at Schalke all season (not to mention Klaas Jan Huntelaar scoring 50+ goals), but Holtby isnÃ¢ÂÂt complaining. Ã¢ÂÂIt was an honour to play with Raul,Ã¢ÂÂ he says. Ã¢ÂÂHeÃ¢ÂÂs always got an open ear for every young player, and he runs around on the pitch like a little kid. He might be turning 35, but heÃ¢ÂÂs as fit as a horse.Ã¢ÂÂ
The 21-year-old Ã¢ÂÂ thatÃ¢ÂÂs Holtby, not Raul Ã¢ÂÂ says he is happy simply to have established himself in the Schalke starting XI after being sent out on loan twice by previous manager Felix Magath. Ã¢ÂÂI donÃ¢ÂÂt do this for the money,Ã¢ÂÂ he says. Ã¢ÂÂI know we get paid well, but I love football and I love playing it.Ã¢ÂÂ
ThatÃ¢ÂÂs music to the ears of German fans. England, though, are left to mourn the one who got away.
This piece originally featured in July 2012 edition of FourFourTwo
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