Berlin - Two years ago, Lukas Nmecha fired England to glory at the Under-19
European Championships in Georgia. On Tuesday, however, the Manchester
City youngster made his debut for Germany.
Nmecha was a second-half substitute in Germany's 2-1 win over England
in an Under-21 friendly in Bournemouth on Tuesday, having decided to
switch allegiances earlier this year.
The 20-year-old striker was only declared eligible to play for
Germany's Under-21 side shortly before kick-off, and came off the bench
to make his Germany debut against former England teammates.
"I see Germany as my home. I lived in Hamburg until I was nine years
old and I still have a close bond to the city and the people there,"
Nmecha told AFP subsidiary SID.
"I only found out that I could play ten minutes before kick-off. It was pure joy."
Nmecha, the son of a German mother and a Nigerian father, was scouted
by Manchester City at the age of nine, and has been at the club ever
since. He made his Premier League debut against West Ham United in April
last year, and has spent this season on loan at second-tier side
Preston North End.
The young forward's attitude and performances have earned him praise from City coach Pep Guardiola.
"Lukas has potential. He is hungry, and he always listens and keeps his eyes open," said Guardiola last year.
Nmecha represented England at every junior level from Under-16 before
he was persuaded to switch by Germany Under-21 coach Stefan Kuntz
earlier this year.
"The coach visited me at my home in Manchester and told me about Germany's team spirit," said Nmecha.
"He really convinced me, and he also spoke to my mum, who is from Moenchengladbach."
Nmecha, whose brother Felix also plays for City and has represented
both England and Germany at youth level, revealed that he speaks German
with his mother so as not to forget his native language.
He will have more chances to keep up his German from now on. Despite
continuing interest from England and Nigeria, the City talent says his
decision to play for Germany is final.
"I have chosen Germany, where I was born. I thought for a long time
about what I wanted. It was the right decision," he said on Tuesday.
Germany Under-21 coach Kuntz, meanwhile, is looking forward to
working with his new player, and said that he may have a few more
surprise selections up his sleeve.
"We try to be creative with our selection, and we have one or two ideas which nobody will be expecting," said Kuntz.