16.02.2021Bayer 04

Gray: Fosu-Mensah and Sancho advised me to do it

He wanted new experiences, get out of his comfort zone and take off in relation to his career as a football player. That is why Demarai Gray rejected offers back home and opted for the move to Europe. The choice of the 24-year-old winger, and champion of England in 2016, was for Bayer 04. After two weeks in Leverkusen, Gray spoke at a virtual media interview about...

…the reasons for his move from the Premier League to Leverkusen in the Bundesliga: For me personally, it was important at this stage of my career to leave my comfort zone and take on a new challenge. The Bundesliga and Bayer 04 were just right for me. The intensity here is high and I like that. Also the attacking style of play of the clubs, above all at Leverkusen, is very attractive for the fans and spectators. Our team has a lot of potential, and has lots of young and talented players in the squad.

…the role of Timothy Fosu-Mensah and other English players in the Bundesliga like Dortmund's Jadon Sancho in his move to Bayer Leverkusen: Timothy and I faced each other on the pitch once or twice in the past and we knew each other before my move. He talked to me a lot in recent weeks and told me about the strengths of the team and that increased my tendency towards wanting a move to Leverkusen. I also spoke to Jadon (Sancho, ed.) about the league. All of them advised me to make the move. Now it's about me going my way in Germany and at Bayer 04.

…his successful start at Leverkusen with the final goal in the 5-2 victory over VfB Stuttgart on his debut: I've had fantastic first days here in the city and at Bayer 04. I was only able to train with the team two days before the game against Stuttgart but everything went well on the pitch straight away. I was absolutely missing the feeling of putting the ball in the net and helping the team. I’ve waited a long time for that. Now it's about building on the first minutes.

…his personal fitness level: I'm absolutely in good shape. I've always kept fit including playing games for the Leicester City U23s in November and December. Those games gave me the strength that I can really make use of now. We've got a lot of games close together in the coming weeks. It's good for me to be able to carry on working on my fitness. I can hardly wait to be back on the pitch regularly and provide assists or score goals.

…his five years at Leicester City: Of course, that time was like a rollercoaster ride for me with highs and lows. Sometimes there was lots of minutes on the pitch, sometimes less. But it will always be a big part of my life. I've got a lot of good memories from Leicester. I moved there from my original club Birmingham City in January 2016 and then just six months later ended up winning the league title. It was a unique experience for me. All the people at the club will always be close to my heart. But I didn't really feature in the manager's plans any more. It was time to take a different and new path.

…the fans in Leverkusen: Unfortunately, I've not been able to meet anybody yet. But I watched some games from the past before my move when the fans were there too. So I was able to get a first impression. And I can say: Whichever match it was, they always kept producing fantastic energy and that spreads to us players. I can hardly wait to be able to play in front of them again.

…his targets at Leverkusen: I want to help the team and the club with good performances. Qualifying for the Champions League will always be the target in the league for a team like ours. To achieve that, we have to be focused in the next games. And we want to go a long way in the Europa League. Last year we made it to the quarter-finals. We want to build on that. I'm looking forward to the coming months.

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