Speaking to Kicker journalist Tobias Rudolf, Kai Havertz imparted some advice for another German youth prodigy not far behind him.
At present, everyone in German footballing circles wants to talk with 21-year-old Kai Havertz. The Chelsea FC attacker is brimming with confidence after scoring the game-winning goal for his team in last weekend's UEFA Champions' League final. The goal effectively erased what had been considered a lackluster debut campaign at Stamford Bridge for the former Leverkusen phenom.
Neither Havertz fellow German arrival Timo Werner, despite memorable performances in Europe and the domestic cup, put up stellar production numbers in the EPL. Both players seemed prone to mental miscues. The current member of the German national team labelled the past seven days "the best week of my life" at a Friday presser.
In a private interview later on, he spoke on overcoming adversity and addressed the country's next up-and-coming Wunderkind directly.
"Florian Wirtz deserved to be here [with the national team] because he had a great season," Havertz remarked, "but I also think that the European U21 Championship will serve as a good chance for him to develop further. I know what it's like to be thrown in too early. That's not good either. It's better for him personally to be introduced gently."
Havertz once held the record for the youngest Bundesliga player to ever appear on a Bundesliga pitch. In October of 2016, the former Werkself player made a substitute appearance at the age of just 17 and 126 days.
Some three-and-a-half years later, Wirtz broke the record in May 2020. Havertz was still with Leverkusen when Wirtz started a match at the age of 17 years and 15 days. Dortmund's Youssoufa Moukoko broke the record again one day after his 16th birthday this past November.
Wirtz remained a central topic of discussion amongst football fans in the Bundesrepublik after his fine brace sent the German U21 squad to the final of this year's continental youth championship earlier in the week. Many remain disappointed that Bundestrainer Löw left the likes of Wirtz and Ridle Baku behind when selecting the senior side for this summer's Euros.
While explicitly stating that he thought Wirtz should have absolutely been picked to join the Nationalmannschaft this year, Havertz's reflective comments on age overtly suggested that his own experience taught him the importance of gradual introduction.
"With me, everything happened so quickly," he noted in the interview, "I just didn't understand where all the hype came from. It's hard to maintain your form as a young player. It's always up and down. You can't trust everyone who praises you after a good game any more than you can believe those who label you crap after a bad one. It's important to learn how to tune others out."
Given his most recent season in the Premiership, Havertz presumably gleaned valuable lessons in this regard. Even if Wirtz has handled his own success in a relatively mature manner, experience in handling adversity must come too.