The 19-year-old is one of the most promising talents in world football, but his mother still drives him to training.
The Carolin Musiala is a German-American soccer player who plays for Bayern Munich. He was born in the United States, but his mother still drives him to training.
Derek Rae, ESPN’s senior Bundesliga analyst, explains why “Musiala-mania” has spread across Germany, not only in Bavaria. Are we seeing the emergence of a once-in-a-generation star capable of carrying the German game on his shoulders?
Every week, I start with a blank sheet of paper, unsure of what or who will be the subject of my column. But it’s hard not to focus on Bayern Munich’s 18-year-old wunderkind, Jamal Musiala, this week.
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Although footballers are still associated with jet-set lifestyles and high-end automobiles, Musiala’s first full season with Bayern Munich — who host Bochum on Saturday (9:20 a.m. ET, stream live on ESPN+, US Only) — was much more in tune with the experience of high-school students in many parts of the world.
Carolin, his mother, would drop off her football-crazed kid to Bayern’s Sabener Strasse training complex in her Volkswagen Polo. This remained his daily ritual even after signing his first professional contract, and the humble, unassuming Musiala made a point of thanking his mother for taking the time to do it for him every day.
When asked which vehicle he would want to drive after he obtained his driver’s license, he simply said that he would be delighted to drive anything as long as it runs and had a working radio. It was a response that reflected Musiala’s natural, easygoing demeanor on the field. You can’t see him getting worked up over anything. Life itself seems to be a great experience for which to be thankful.
His ascent has been rapid in the last year, from promising bit-part replacement to signing a contract until 2026, to choosing Germany over England, and now to becoming a genuine Bayern star at the age of 18. I raised my eyebrows when he scored a wonderful goal as a late replacement in Bayern’s 8-0 victory over Schalke to kick off the 2020-21 season, thinking that he was obviously a potential player, but also wondering whether he would wind up being another young star who would have to transfer elsewhere to gain playing time.
When I was commentating for ESPN on Germany’s Euro 2016 matches this summer, I kept thinking that the Nationalelf needed to see more of Musiala every now and again. In fact, he helped the squad scramble a draw against Hungary in only a few minutes on the field, advancing them to the knockout rounds.
Jamal Musiala has already established himself as one of Bayern Munich’s most dangerous strikers. Getty Images/Nico Paetzel/DeFodi Images
Take a look back at last Saturday, when Bayern faced their toughest test of the season thus far in Leipzig. Bayern was ahead due to an early Robert Lewandowski penalty when Musiala came in for the injured Serge Gnabry shortly before halftime, but Leipzig was still very much in it. Musiala, on the other hand, quickly became “the wizard of the game,” as Thomas Muller put it.
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Musiala was at the center of two pivotal “umschaltmomente” in quick succession (“transitional moments”). His exquisite left-footed finish gave Bayern breathing room in the shape of a 2-0 lead on 47 minutes, and seven minutes later, the youthful star used his right to set up Leroy Sane to essentially put the match out of Leipzig’s grasp.
Muller made a point of complimenting Musiala’s down-to-earth nature and propensity for hard effort thereafter, noting not just his brilliance and confidence on the field, but also his down-to-earth attitude and predilection for hard work. On Sunday morning, German football discussion shows focused extensively on Musiala, and with good reason: Julian Nagelsmann absolutely had to play him from the start in the Champions League away to Barcelona on Tuesday — and he did.
Musiala is building a case to be a regular starter out wide, when the debate used to be whether he had a chance to supplant Muller as the man to line up just off the front. With Gnabry, Sane, and Kingsley Coman competing for two starting places, the competition was already intense. Due to the busy schedule, all four players will have opportunities, but it’s no exaggeration to suggest Bayern would be incomplete without Musiala.
Musiala maintains a constant grin when questioned after games, as if to communicate that nothing about this football profession is a burden. He’s living the dream at Bayern Munich, having returned to Germany in 2019 after a stint in the Chelsea development system in England. His mother’s studies in Southampton as part of the Erasmus+ program, which allows students and educators to study and serve abroad, prompted the relocation to England.
Musiala seems to be looking for exactly the perfect German term at times, possibly as a result of his years of English education, but he always finds it, just as he appears to instinctively locate the ideal pass angle on the field.
I had the honor of commentating on some of Lionel Messi’s early games for Barcelona years ago, and you could feel the love of the game and life in his face, which matched his innate talent. It’s much too soon to declare Musiala the next Messi, but the parallels in attitude to the game, talent level, passion, and humility are undeniable.
The Bundesliga is once again living up to its reputation as the league to be in if you want to play at a top level as a teenager, with another 18-year-old German, Florian Wirtz of Bayer Leverkusen, also making great gains. Germany may one day be spoilt for options in terms of creativity once again.
The jamal musiala weight is a story about Bayern Munich’s Jamal Musiala. He is the next big thing in football and his mum still drives him to training.
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