"Julian is brimming with reckless abandon, liveliness and he has the ability to take things in and learn quickly. These are greats signs that we are getting from him. He is an open and sincere young man."
This appraisal came from Thomas Tuchel, after only a few days of working together. Not a bad basis for someone who describes himself as a challenger. Weigl is just 19 years of age.
With his transfer from TSV 1860 Munich to Borussia Dortmund, he followed almost exactly the same path as his role model, and as a result has also become his competitior at the same time. Even back then, as Sven Bender himself was still a "Löwe" and Julian Weigl was younger than he is today, he followed Sven and Lars, the Bender twins, and monitored them closely: "I often watched their matches and paid special attention to them both," says Weigl, adding: "That’s when I realised that we have certain similarities".
First of all, his position as a central midfielder in front of the defence, the classic 'sweeper' position. In this position you need the proven ability to find open space and recognise opposing players on the attack before they are picked up by others. Ball-winning ability and strength are called for. And then there is another thing that doesn’t quite fit his job spec as a sweeper – his size.
Sven Bender is also came to BVB with quite a frail figure – but now he can hold his own against anyone and has quite a stature. Julian Weigl is all of 1.86m tall and already weighs 71 kilos, though he can provide an explanation for this: "I can pretty much eat what I want and I don’t put on any weight. Some people are envious, but for me it isn’t ideal." It isn’t a problem for him then, rather a challenge.
This is exactly how the 19 year old, with all those positive attributes, sees his role in the team. "I’m still the challenger," he says, "quite clearly". After all, Weigl won’t only encounter Sven Bedner in the heart of Borussia Dortmund, but also Gonzalo Castro, Ilkay Gundogan, Nuri Sahin and Oliver Kirch. Weigl, however, who joined the youth ranks of TSV 1860 München from SV Ostermünchen over TSV 1860 Rosenheim in 2012, has come with the benefit of 39 second division games for the Champions League finalists of 2013.
After all, although only 19, he was already the captain of the first-team in the meantime. Weigl is quick to accept resposibility and he does so consciously.These days it’s different; no longer possible to be on the pitch, both as an individual and a collective. "With my temperament I’m not someone that shirks responsbility." He isn’t daunted by all of those big names in Borussia Dortmund’s midfield. Weigl accepts things as they are – open-mindedly and assertively.
"I’m not setting myself a date by which I want to be in the starting line-up. But I’m here now and want to get some first-team experience," said the 19 year old, adding: "I am bold enough to say that I want to prove what I’m capable of right away".
It doesn’t bother him that in doing so, he’ll have to displace his idol. "Of course, Sven and I are now competing as we both play in the same position. But also for me it means that that I can learn something from him every day“. Weigl is a pragmatist. His approach strikes you straightaway. Everything is unproblematic, at most challenges for him to overcome.