By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Füllkrug after World Cup exit: "Shocking how much disfavor the national team received from the public."

In an interview appearing in the Wednesday print edition of Germany's "Sport Bild" tabloid, SV Werder Bremen and German national team striker Niclas Füllkrug spoke out on his opinion of how the German public and media handled the national team's recent tournament.
One of the few German national team players who caught both the imagination of the country's press and the public, has spoken about his experience representing the Bundesrepublik in the recent World Cup. Veteran striker Niclas Füllkrug, donning the German national team jersey for the very first time as a 29-year-old, was one of the few bright spots in the nation's second consecutive World Cup group stage elimination.

Füllkrug netted a total of three goals off the bench in three matches for Hansi Flick's DFB-XI. As the scorer of the lone goal that actually got some Germans excited about a tournament they had hitherto been rather tepid about, Füllkrug was naturally well aware that quite a lot rested on his shoulders in the final days of the tournament. Speaking on the hype surrounding his presence, the Hannover native sought to maintain some humility about it.

"I personally didn't see myself as a beacon of hope," Füllkrug told his interviewer, "I also don't like the fact that the focus falls on one person. Of course it was a great response from the fans. But it probably wasn't just because of the goal, but also because of my style. I'm authentic, have a clear opinion, and am distinctively unpolished."

In the spirit of candid opinions from an "unpolished" type, Füllkrug didn't hesitate to be straightforward about his feelings on public support for the national team. Most of the more press-friendly DFB actors had to dance around the issue of how little the German public seemed to care about this particular World Cup. Füllkrug, like teammate Nico Schlotterbeck, didn't shy away from the matter.

"I am not afraid to make the statement and stand by it: It's shocking how much disfavor the national team received from the public," Füllkrug noted, "I think that's a great shame. I already had the feeling [during the 2018 World Cup in Russia] that the national team is sometimes wished failure rather than success. I don't know why that is. I can only say that every player on the pitch is incredibly proud to wear the German jersey."

As for some of the post-tournament criticism appearing in the German press about the team's insular pre-competition training camp, Füllkrug took the opportunity to praise the country's FA for looking after the players. After reflecting on his own disappointment on the early elimination, the late-career DFB rookie noted that he found the treatment to be rather luxurious.

"The training camp was great," Füllkrug noted, "The accommodations were excellent, even though it meant that Germany was the only team to seal itself off. None of us players had the slightest complaint. All our needs were catered to. That's why I don't think criticism in that direction is in order."

Though he acknowledged that the group-stage-exit "certainly wasn't in line with the public's expectations", Füllkrug also took care to emphasize that he didn't consider the failure to be a complete embarrassment. For the SV attacker, there were still many positives to draw from the experience.

Interestingly enough, when it came time to discuss the impending topic of transfer rumors, Füllkrug noted that his experience with the national team wasn't personally anywhere near as special for him as achieving promotion back to the top flight with his youth academy club last year. While not explicitly ruling out a transfer, Füllkrug seemed to suggest that it would take a lot to pull him away from the Hanseaten.

"Werder is no ordinary club for me," the 2006 SV academy entrant stressed, "If Werder needs the money, that's one thing. The most important thing for me is to be happy in life. That's what I am at the moment. There are more important things than money."

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