Shkodran Mustafi has revealed some insight into how he was feeling about his unexpected role within Germany’s World Cup-winning team of 2014.
Having only made his international debut weeks before the tournament against Poland, you could excuse the centre-back if there were some signs of nerves. A second-half substitute for Mats Hummels during their curtain-raiser against Portugal, Mustafi wasn’t feeling particularly nervous though.
“I got a call just a few months before the World Cup to go and play a friendly game against Chile for Germany,” Mustafi explained, as quoted by the club’s official website.
“It was the first time I was in the squad, so I was really, really excited. Still, friends and family were saying, ‘I’m smelling an opportunity for you to go to the World Cup’. I was like, ‘What are you saying? It’s in three months and it’s the first time I’ve been with the national team’. I didn’t even play, I was on the bench. I did the training session but I never played.”
“I said to myself, ‘It’s not time to be disappointed, I have to think positively and think that I achieved more than I wanted’.
That experience could’ve deterred many in their quest for international success, but Mustafi’s regular first-team action at Serie A side Sampdoria as well as some fortune from an untimely injury helped him stake his claim for his country.
“Suddenly I was in the 30-man squad just before we went to the World Cup. After that, I never got called by the under-23s. My goal at the beginning of the season was to get my place as a centre half and play most of the games for Sampdoria, but then I got called up to the national team and went to the last 30 to make the squad for Brazil.”
Borussia Dortmund winger Marco Reus sustained ruptured ligaments during Germany’s final warm-up game prior to the tournament and Mustafi spoke about the phone call he received afterwards.
“I got a call when I was in the car. I missed the first one and then the assistant coach called me, so I made sure I didn’t miss that one. He said, ‘You have to be quick because we’re waiting for you in Frankfurt at the airport. Marco Reus is injured and the coach wants you to meet the squad to come with us to Brazil’.
“I didn’t ask many more questions, I just went home, packed my bags and then went straight to the airport. It was so unbelievable for me because the first game of the World Cup was my first proper game for Germany. It was against Portugal at the World Cup so I was thinking, ‘Woah, what’s going on?’. It was really, really strange and I was really, really excited. In the end, we won the World Cup so it was a brilliant story.”
Mustafi went on to feature at right-back against Ghana and Algeria before sustaining a torn muscle, which ruled him out of their final three fixtures in Brazil.
He has earned 16 international caps to date.