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"My heart was racing!"

Lazar "Laki" Samardzic in interview ahead of the game against Borussia Mönchengladbach | The 19-year-old made his first start for RB Leipzig in the reverse fixture against Gladbach

"Just before setting off to the stadium I found out that I’d be starting. That message got my heart racing!

- Lazar Samardzic

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Lazar Samardzic played 69 minutes on the left wing on his first start and put in a good showing.
Lazar Samardzic turned 19 years old on Wednesday. The Berlin local moved to Cottaweg in the summer of 2020 after 10 years with Hertha BSC. The midfielder wanted to take the next step at RB Leipzig and develop under Julian Nagelsmann.

The youngster was soon rewarded for his strong performances in training: Laki was named in the starting XI for the first time for the trip to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the first half of the season. It went on to be his first lengthy appearance for the club, before he was replaced by Christopher Nkunku in the 69th minute.

You have to be pleased. He is a young guy who trains well and has deserved to play. You can see that he is a big talent.

- Julian Nagelsmann on Samardzic's debut

Youngster Lazar Samardzic joins RB Leipzig from Hertha BSC, signing a contract until 2025.

As RB Leipzig prepare to take on Marco Rose’s side again, we spoke to Laki ahead of the game.
 

Laki, how did you receive the news that you’d be making your starting debut back in November?

I found out that I’d be starting just before we set off to the stadium. That made my heart start racing. You could definitely see that I was a bit nervous in the first few minutes, but I think I got into the game quickly and put in a solid performance in the end. I probably even did better in defense than attack, which isn’t actually my strongest point.

We suffered a narrow 1-0 defeat in that game. Even though Gladbach have dropped a few points recently, we’re up against a very strong side this weekend. How do we make sure all three points stay in Leipzig?

Very simple: we have to give our all and carry on just as we have been doing in the recent Bundesliga games. Gladbach are a very good rival, but I think we’re stronger at the moment. Of course, we want the home win, and also to make up for the defeat against them in the first half of the season.

You’ve been a Bull since September 2020. How have you found training under Julian Nagelsmann so far and what do you make of your first steps of development here?

There is always a great atmosphere on the pitch. Everyone puts the work in and also off the pitch, we’re laughing and it’s not just players but the coaching team too. Hee-chan Hwang is the funniest guy on the team in my opinion.

The standard here is great. Julian’s training is very complex and sometimes it’s mentally demanding – but that is what characterises him and his work and is the reason we’re so successful. I chose RB Leipzig because it’s where I can best develop.

I have definitely become a lot stronger mentally here. Physically, I have to improve, as the coach has already said. But I’m already working on that so I can achieve my goals. 

So what are your goals at RB Leipzig?
 

I want to become a regular in the team. That is the first priority. But of course I dream of big successes with RBL, and at some point winning a title or two."

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Leipzig training in the words of Laki Samardzic: Hard work and great atmosphere.
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"He will get more game time if he continues to develop in the right direction," says Julian Nagelsmann.

And away from football, how do you like your new home of Leipzig?

"I’ve been here a little over half a year now and I’ve settled in really well. It is nice and quiet here and everything is really close by and accessible. That's what I particularly like about Leipzig: the short distances between places. I'm also very happy with my apartment, I feel comfortable here. Because of the pandemic, it is difficult to get to know Leipzig in its entirety, but there are definitely a few nice places."

Laki in three words:

Grounded. Quiet. Strong-willed.

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"Why do I wear the number 20? My old coach Zecke Neuendorf told me: 'Take the 20, it's twice as good as the 10 and I listened to those words."

Get ready for matchday!

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