Featured Interviews

Lamine Yamal’s journey to the first team spotlight

Lamine Yamal / Getty Images
Lamine Yamal / Getty Images

Lamine Yamal gives his perspective on his rise at Barcelona.

At the tender age of 15, Lamine Yamal stepped onto the pitch for his debut with the first team, a moment that marked the realization of a childhood dream shared by many aspiring footballers. In an exclusive interview with UEFA, Lamine Yamal opens up about his journey, the influence of legendary coach Xavi, the thrill of his debut, and the nuances of life as a professional footballer.

“It’s a dream for me, and I think it’s a dream for all the kids in the youth team to play for the first team,” Lamine reflects, encapsulating the aspirations that fueled his relentless pursuit of excellence. His gratitude towards Xavi, who facilitated his debut at such a young age, is palpable. “I will always be grateful to Xavi because not everybody would have let me debut at 15,” he acknowledges, recognizing the pivotal role his mentor played in his development.

Transitioning from the youth setup to the intensity of senior football can be daunting, but Lamine found solace in Xavi’s guidance. “Xavi told me to enjoy it, to do what I always do in training, and he said it would surely go well,” he recalls, highlighting the importance of trust and encouragement from seasoned professionals.

The memory of his debut remains etched in Lamine’s mind, a blend of nerves, excitement, and sheer exhilaration. “I remember going out to warm up…my ears were blocked, I couldn’t hear anything,” he reminisces, illustrating the sensory overload that accompanies stepping onto the grand stage of professional football.

Yet, amidst the jubilation, Lamine remains grounded, acknowledging the transient nature of success in the relentless world of football. “It was a day of great happiness for the whole family, many congratulations, but the next day, it was time to train again,” he reflects, underscoring the unyielding dedication required to thrive in the sport.

As Lamine solidifies his place in the first team, he navigates the dynamics of the dressing room with a newfound confidence. “Now I have more confidence with my teammates…the same relationship of respect,” he asserts, signaling his evolution from a wide-eyed newcomer to a respected member of the squad.

Indeed, camaraderie and humor play an integral role in fostering team spirit, as Lamine attests. “You have to know when you can joke around, and when you can’t…I like a joke, I like them to be made to me, I like to return them,” he shares, highlighting the importance of a positive atmosphere in driving collective success.

Distinguishing between domestic league fixtures and the prestigious Champions League, Lamine acknowledges the heightened intensity of European nights. “In the Champions League, from minute zero, it’s intensity, and any team can beat you,” he observes, emphasizing the unforgiving nature of elite competition.

Whether it’s providing an assist or finding the back of the net, Lamine relishes the unique joys each brings. “When you provide an assist, it’s more joy in being able to help the team…when you score a goal, it’s more satisfaction,” he muses, encapsulating the indescribable thrill of contributing to his team’s success.

In Lamine Yamal’s journey from youth team dreams to first-team stardom, one finds the embodiment of perseverance, talent, and unwavering dedication. As he continues to carve his legacy on the hallowed turf, his story serves as an inspiration to aspiring footballers around the world, a testament to the power of dreams and the pursuit of excellence.