VATUTINKI, Russia (Reuters) - Germany defender Joshua Kimmich has risen up the ranks so quickly with his brutally efficient performances that he is considered as a key player for the world champions aged just 23.
However, rather than being compared to predecessor Philipp Lahm, he wants to live his own childhood dream.
The versatile right back made his national team debut in 2016 and has since earned 29 caps, playing all 10 of their World Cup qualifiers and winning the Confederations Cup last year.
His consistently impressive footwork over the past two years for club and country have instantly drawn comparisons to retired Lahm, one of the best right backs over the past few decades.
The 2014 World Cup-winning Germany captain was also Kimmich’s predecessor as right back at Bayern Munich.
Germany scored more goals from the right side in their qualifiers than the other wing, with Kimmich far more attack-minded than Lahm.
“I don’t know why that is so but I enjoy the right side with Thomas (Mueller),” Kimmich told reporters on Friday.
Kimmich has scored three goals in his 29 internationals so far to Lahm’s five in 113.
“Philipp Lahm left his stamp on that position for 15 years and when he retired he was captain of Germany and Bayern Munich.”
“I am 23 years old so I cannot match him. I lack the experience and I don’t try to copy him. I want to be Joshua Kimmich and not Philipp Lahm 2.0.”
The diminutive, baby-faced defender played his first major event at Euro 2016 and quickly left his mark, being named in the overall team of the tournament.
This is his first World Cup, having watched Germany win the 2014 trophy from the RB Leipzig training camp after having won promotion at the time to the second division.
“Personally I do not need too much to get motivated here,” he said. “For me a childhood dream is coming true so there is absolutely no lack of motivation.”
The Germans kick off their title defense against Mexico on Sunday. They also play South Korea and Sweden in Group F.
“In every game I want to perform well, not for me but for the team,” Kimmich said. “We want to have a good start and win this game against Mexico and then look ahead to the next.”
Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Pritha Sarkar