Featured Interviews

Ilkay Gündogan: Balancing Family, Football, and Barcelona’s Aspirations

Ilkay Gundogan / La Vanguardia
Ilkay Gundogan / La Vanguardia

Ilkay Gundogan spoke to La Vanguardia on his time with Barcelona so far.

In the bustling streets of Barcelona, Ilkay Gündogan has found more than just a football club; he’s discovered a home for his growing family. Reflecting on his journey from Manchester to Barcelona, Gündogan shares insights into his life, his role on the pitch, and Barcelona’s ambitions.

“My family and I are very happy in Barcelona,” Gündogan remarks, emphasizing the joy of exploring the city with his wife and young son, even during the chill of December. After several relocations, Barcelona has become more than just a stop in his career; it’s where they’ve found a sense of belonging. “We like to walk around, discover restaurants, explore the city,” he adds, highlighting the importance of settling into a community after years of constant movement.

As a seasoned professional with 15 years of experience, Gündogan understands the pressures of playing for a club with such immense expectations. “My happiness depends on my work,” he reflects, acknowledging the inseparability of personal fulfillment and professional success. Despite the inevitable frustrations of the game, Gündogan finds solace in his family’s unwavering support, even amidst criticism from his harshest critic, his mother.

Transitioning from Manchester City to Barcelona, Gündogan admits to the similarities in pressure between the two clubs. “I put the pressure on myself,” he states, underscoring his self-awareness and commitment to continuous improvement. However, he also recognizes the unique challenges facing Barcelona, particularly in a season marked by injuries and young players under immense pressure.

Amidst discussions about Barcelona’s midfield prowess, Gündogan offers a tempered perspective. “I wouldn’t say we’re the best,” he admits, highlighting the need for time and chemistry to fully unlock the team’s potential. As he navigates his role within the midfield, Gündogan sees parallels between his own journey and the emergence of young talent like Lamine Yamal.

Looking ahead to Barcelona’s Champions League aspirations, Gündogan remains pragmatic yet optimistic. Despite the loss of key leaders like Xavi, he believes in the team’s ability to compete at the highest level. Reflecting on his relationship with Xavi, Gündogan expresses gratitude for the legendary midfielder’s influence on his decision to join Barcelona.

Addressing speculation about his decision to leave Manchester City for Barcelona, Gündogan dismisses notions of seeking an easier path. “You compete,” he asserts, likening football to life’s challenges, where resilience and perseverance are paramount. Regarding potential replacements for Xavi, Gündogan refrains from speculation but expresses respect for figures like Hansi Flick.

In essence, Ilkay Gündogan’s journey embodies the delicate balance between personal fulfillment, professional ambition, and the enduring support of family. As he continues to navigate the highs and lows of football, Gündogan remains steadfast in his commitment to Barcelona’s success, both on and off the pitch.