Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry comes with the style and substance
Sporting blonde hair and a silver earring on his left ear, it is easy for Serge Gnabry to be the centre of attention just as he was on Monday afternoon when he swaggered into the Adidas Brand Centre at the heart of Orchard Road along with teammates Benjamin Pavard and Josip Stanisic.
While club duties meant that the fashion-forward German was clad in Bayern Munich’s new black-and-purple away kit, Gnabry is usually not one to shy away from expressing himself through his dress sense off the pitch, just as he does with his dexterity on it.
The twinkle-toed winger, one of the most dynamic footballers in the world, was keen to stress the need for a greater freedom of expression when it comes to honing players for the future.
Speaking to The Straits Times, Gnabry, who is in town with Bayern Munich for the Bundesliga champions’ friendly match on Wednesday against Liverpool, called on coaches to allow youth players to express themselves.
The 28-year-old said: “We need to let youth players have fun, let them be themselves, enjoy the sport. There was a period where everyone was starting to do the same (things). Everyone had to play the same style. It was just a lot about passing and tactics.
“For young players and young kids, they should develop their own game in their own way. Nowadays, sometimes people say ‘oh, there’s not enough people who dribble’, but of course if you’re in the academy and everyone tells you not to dribble, it’s going to be hard to produce players that can dribble.”
While his love for fashion is a part of his personality, Gnabry is almost unapologetic even when he had to pay the price for it. In January, he came under fire for attending Paris Fashion Week hours after a league match and was subsequently dropped from the starting 11.
Drawing parallels with the need for individuality, he said it was important to have an avenue outside of football, adding: “We can’t all be the same. And I think it’s very important to get your head away from football because there is a lot of pressure every day from training, fighting for your spots, the need to perform well in every game, in front of all the spectators.”
As Pavard, Stanisic and him interacted with fans at the event, posing for photographs and signing autographs, there was no question that Gnabry was the crowd favourite.
When he is not decked out from top to toe in designer clothes while checking out the latest fashionwear on the catwalk, Gnabry dedicates his time to honing his craft to propel Bayern towards trophies.
The former Arsenal youth player, who has won the Bundesliga five times, Champions League once and the German Cup twice since joining the Bavarian giants in 2018, hopes to improve on his tally of 17 goals and 12 assists in 47 matches last season.
A successful season will also set him up nicely going into next summer’s European Championship on home soil, where he feels there is “unfinished business” after a tough World Cup for Germany in 2022.
What he does not want, is the Bundesliga title race going down to the final match day like it did in the last campaign when Bayern secured their 11th consecutive league title by pipping Borussia Dortmund on goal difference, thanks to Jamal Musiala’s late winner.
Gnabry said: “For sure, Dortmund will be very upset for missing the opportunity last season and I think they’re going to come back with a lot of fire.
“RB Leipzig will be a tough team and (Bayer) Leverkusen are also going to be very sharp this season so I think those are the teams that will be chasing us. It was a very emotional win for us last season, but we are ready to win it again.”