In today’s installment of your weekly Personality of the Week profile, we relive an all-inclusive interview Brave Warriors and Werder Bremen legend Razundara Tjikuzu had with German football site Talentkritiker.
Hi Tjikuzu, at the age of 16 you came to Werder Bremen as a hopeful talent from Namibia. What were the conditions like when you started playing football in Namibia and how were you discovered?
As a child, I mostly played soccer in school and I didn’t miss anything in games with my friends. Werder Bremen made scouting trips through Africa every year and then the then vice-president Klaus Dieter Fischer of Werder Bremen discovered me during a sighting. For me as a junior international, it was certainly a little easier to be discovered than for other talented boys.
As a young player, you left your family at an early age and moved to another continent. How difficult was it for you to get on a plane at the age of 16 and how were the early days in Bremen?
It was of course extremely difficult to leave my family in Namibia, but I wanted to take this unique opportunity and realize my big dream of a career as a footballer. In the beginning it was tough, I can especially remember the different weather. Overall, it was clear to me from the start that I had to learn German quickly and I also had to make new friends. The youth boarding school helped me a lot with integration back then and I was very lucky to go to such a special club, which also stood for one of the best youth work in Germany.
They quickly established themselves and made a total of 140 games in the Bundesliga. What were the best memories from your time in Germany?
I have a lot of good memories from my time in Germany. During my time at Werder Bremen, the basics were laid, I learned a lot and as a team we played great football together. I also felt very comfortable at Hansa Rostock and had a lot of fun with my old teammates. I also remember some great goals I scored and hope that Hansa Rostock will invite the old team again so that we can come together as a great group.
How is talent promotion in Namibia currently looking? Are the conditions better than when you were a talent back in the years?
The promotion of talent cannot be compared with Germany or Europe, but there are still many exciting talents in Namibia. The task now has to be to help these young players through connections and create opportunities, as I got back then. An opportunity that could change the entire life of the young talents and their families.
What specifically still needs to be improved in promoting talent in Namibia and Africa?
There are countries in Africa that are already a few steps further in promoting talent in professional development. All in all, a lot of things need to be improved, such as the organisation and creating the best possible framework conditions in order to train and promote the young footballers, as well as humanly. Education is an important cornerstone that by no means should be neglected. Furthermore, there are still too often major problems with corruption, fraud and the distribution of important positions. Maybe Fifa should take a closer look more often. In general, we must not lose more time and I hope that this interview will also lead many people from Germany to shift their attention to Africa.
Every year there are many players who take the plunge into European professional football. You yourself went the way back then and know about the chances and difficulties of asserting yourself as an African talent. What does a talent need to assert oneself in professional football?
An exciting question! If you move to Germany as a talent, it is more difficult than in other countries, because you have to assert yourself against excellently trained players from the German youth academy. You have to do more than the competition - complete extra training units and above all stay focused. Think as little about home as possible, which you really have to be brave to do - believe me! Can you imagine leaving home and leaving the continent at the age of 15? I went this way for a better life, even if it has the disadvantage of not having grown as a personality. Overall, it was a great experience and I am currently considering writing a book in which I would like to help and inspire many African youth players.
You are back living in Namibia again for some time now. What is your life like now and how do you stay connected to football?
I am still very enthusiastic about football. I currently live in the Namibian capital Windhoek, where I also want to give something back as a youth coach. The task of youth work and structural organisation are projects that I want to tackle and can be groundbreaking.
Can you imagine returning to Germany?
Of course I can imagine returning to Germany. My daughter and my son live in Germany and this special country has long since become my second home. My son is very talented himself, but, funny enough, he is a Borussia Dortmund fan. I hope that he will calm down and would rather play for Werder Bremen later (Tjikuzu laughs). While I am thinking about Germany and my experiences, let me take this opportunity to thank Thomas Schaaf, who always believed in me and helped me decisively.