20.01.2022Bayer 04

Fosu-Mensah: Support from Michael Jordan and Leroy Sané

Our number 24 is back: Werkself player Timothy Fosu-Mensah replaced Jeremie Frimpong 52 minutes into the 2-1 away win at Borussia Mönchengladbach. It was a return to the pitch after 321 days on the sidelines. The 23-year-old right back suffered a torn cruciate to his right knee at the start of March 2021 – a heavy blow for Fosu-Mensah following his first cruciate injury in 2019.

The Dutchman talks in interview about his months of rehab and the people who supported him during that time.

Last Saturday you played in a game again for the first time in nearly eleven months. How did that feel?

Fosu-Mensah: It felt great to finally be back. I've had to work really long and hard for that so I enjoyed every second of the game. I didn't think about the injury at all and I was able to play freely. And the fact we also won obviously rounded it off nicely.

After the win at Mönchengladbach your teammates talked about an important victory – particularly after the many leads we were unable to hold on to. You weren't directly involved in those games but how did you see what happened on the pitch?

Fosu-Mensah: Of course, that was in the back of my head. In training during the week, the coach talked about more clever control of the game. For example, if you go behind then it's mainly down to your own approach to get the equaliser. We succeeded in that against Union (2-2 against Union Berlin, ed.). Equally, we also have to be able to secure a win from a 2-0 lead. We find a good solution together at Gladbach and therefore we've definitely made progress.

What was your reception from the team like in the dressing room on Saturday?

Fosu-Mensah: They were very happy for me – not just the players but also Gerardo Seoane, the coaches and all the staff. That was a big sign of appreciation for me and it made me very happy.

Let's look back at your time in rehab: What was the injury lay-off like for you?

Fosu-Mensah: The first two months were very tough but then it got a bit easier. Determination drove me on to be able to get back as soon as possible.

Of course, you can't spend the whole day working on your comeback. How did you distract yourself in that phase?

Fosu-Mensah: I watched a lot of documentaries. Including 'The Last Dance’ about the basketball legend Michael Jordan. That was pure motivation.

Who was there for you in particular during that phase?

Fosu-Mensah: My friends and family were always there for me and they helped me, above all, in remaining mentally strong. What I was particularly happy about was that not only my current but also many of my former teammates got in touch. For example, Leroy Sané. We know each other from Manchester – where he played for City and I was at United. When he injured his cruciate back then I was able to give him some tips. I was in the middle of rehab after my first torn cruciate. When it hit me again this time, fortunately with the other knee, he got straight in touch and we talked to each other.

How much did Bayer 04 support you during this time?

Fosu-Mensah: The club really did a lot for me. Whether it was the physios, the coaches, the members of staff or the club management of Fernando Carro, Rudi Völler and Simon Rolfes. We were in regular contact and they often got in touch to see how I was. That gave me a good feeling and encouraged me to stick at it. And it clearly worked very well. (He laughs)

Were there differences in rehab compared with your first torn cruciate in 2019?

Fosu-Mensah: That experience definitely help me. I knew more about what to expect. Therefore, I was able to deal with the situation better and be more relaxed about it. Back then, my left knee held up so I was sure that I could also do it with my right. I came back stronger. I only had to remain patient – and I did that. Now I'm back and I'm very happy about it.

In Jeremie Frimpong you not only have a fellow countryman in the team but also a partner in your position. How do you rate his performances this season up to now and what makes the two of you stand out?

Fosu-Mensah: He's in great shape and really makes use of his pace. I have a more physical playing style. Therefore, we complement each other well. We also get on brilliantly off the pitch and we laugh a lot. He's a funny bloke – even though he can hardly understand me in Dutch after his many years in Great Britain. (He laughs)

What are your personal targets and those with Bayer 04?

Fosu-Mensah: We are still in the Europa League. I obviously hope we can go as far as possible. Anything’s possible in that competition. Also we have a very good squad this season and qualification for the Champions League is definitely our target. For me personally it is simple: play, play, play…

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