On September 18th, Dortmund’s 17-year-old wunderkind will be no more. He’s not going anywhere, he’s just turning 18 and officially becoming an adult.
Now, on the eve of his 18th birthday, is as good a time as ever to reflect on just how crazy this past year has been for Christian Pulisic.
While on international duty with the United States, Pulisic sat down with ESPNFC for an interview covering a wide range of topics. Much of the interview was about life with the USMNT, but there were also quite a few interesting tidbits about his thoughts on his place at BVB this season.
Q: Do you think those goals (for the USMNT) could help when you go back to Dortmund?
Pulisic: They hear about it but I don't think it really affects if I'm going to play there or not. But I'm really excited to be with Dortmund. It's a huge club with a lot of good players, so I'm just fighting for my position in the team when I'm there. And when I come here, I'm fighting for my position here. That's kind of how I look at it.
Q: How do you see yourself fitting in at Dortmund this season?
Pulisic: Just like I did last season. I mean, I'm still young, whatever, I don't have as much experience as a lot of players on the team. But just getting my minutes and working hard every day in training and becoming a normal member of the team is the goal.
Q: What was your reaction when the club signed so many attacking players this summer?
Pulisic: I don't look at those guys any differently than I do any other player because of what they have accomplished already and I don't think the coach (Thomas Tuchel) does either. I think he's just looking at every day in training and how we're performing at the moment.
There’s a lot to digest here. First off, let’s to rest any rumors that Pulisic is somehow unhappy at Dortmund. The interviewer is clearly trying to get Christian to express discontent with BVB’s summer transfer activity, but Pulisic’s attitude is great.
He recognizes that many of the players Thomas Tuchel has brought in this summer have more experience than him, but his mindset is just to keep working as hard as he can in training. Sometimes healthy competition can depress some players, or sometimes it can inspire them to work harder. Thankfully it looks like Christian is among the latter.
Pulisic also spoke about the transfer rumors about him that were swirling around towards the end of the transfer window.
Q: Your father said you had no intention of leaving Dortmund. But there were still lots of rumors suggesting you might be sold or go on loan. Did you ever think you might end up somewhere else?
Pulisic: I hear about it. I have social media. Obviously I'm not completely closed to the world. But I don't let it affect me or how I'm playing at the time. The whole time throughout I was just focused on training every day.
Again, this is refreshing to hear. Some players hear about transfer rumors and become distracted, or start to angle for a move. It has to be tempting, especially as a 17-year-old, to hear that a club like Liverpool are interested in your services. But Christian just kept his head down and focused on training and improving with Dortmund and the US.
The Hershey, PA native also talked about the older players who had helped him or inspired him along the way.
Q: Who has mentored you along the way?
Pulisic: In Germany, Nuri Sahin. He went through something similar at a very young age playing in Bundesliga.
Q: Who's influenced you as player? You've spoken about Luis Figo before. Anyone else?
Pulisic: I was a big Manchester United fan when I was younger, so I loved to watch Wayne Rooney. I wouldn't say I'm a similar player, though. I think his passion for the game is something you don't see much in players. That's what I loved about him.
The key words here about Pulisic being a United fan are “when I was younger.” While many of us certainly aren’t too fond of Wayne Rooney, he’s not a bad player to try and emulate on the field.
And is anyone surprised that Sahin took time out to help Pulisic adapt to the senior team and to the Bundesliga? Nuri is such a good guy.
And finally in what will certainly be the most controversial part of the interview, Christian talked about his enduring love for Justin Bieber.
Q: You turn 18 in a couple of weeks. Any birthday plans?
Pulisic: I'm still working on those Justin Bieber concert tickets. Other than that, it's my normal training schedule.
Q: You tweeted at him about it, right?
Pulisic: It was a joke a little bit, but yeah. I wasn't expecting him to follow me or anything.
Q: Do your teammates give you a hard time about being a Belieber?
Pulisic: (Laughs) I guess. But everyone likes Bieber, I think.
I’m not sure that everyone likes Bieber, but I’ll admit he’s grown on me in the past few years. “Sorry” is a much better song than the old repetitive stuff he used to put out as a teenager.
And how has no one gotten Pulisic tickets for this concert yet?!? If Liverpool come in and offer him tickets and more playing time, we’re in trouble.
Seriously though this is probably the most in-depth interview Pulisic has ever given. Here’s hoping he can continue to develop and contribute for Dortmund this season.