The big aim of the 1,96 m tall central defender, who was born in Cameroon in 1996 and came to Germany at the age of 10, is to make the leap to the first team of the Blues.
On 17th October (the day before the home match against QPR) the BiG members Tom Kleine and Russell Poyner had the opportunity to interview Emmanuel Mbende at St. Andrew's.
How did the change to Birmingham City come about?
EM: After seven years at the Borussia Dortmund youth academy the change to senior football was about to come. So I had to decide to play for the second team of Borussia Dortmund in a lower league or to go abroad. As some people in my environment think my play is apt for English football, Birmingham City's offer came in handy.
What were the first weeks in Birmingham like?
EM: Absolutely outstanding. I received a warm welcome and integrated very quickly. I hadn't really expected this. Birmingham is a really interesting city. I like the inner city around the Bullring. At the beginning I had some difficulties with the Brummie accent, but I do understand most (laughs).
Where do you live?
EM: I could choose to live on my own or in a host family. I deliberately opted for the host family, because only like this I can get to know everyday life in England better. I live in Northfield, near the training ground. Luckily enough I am a part of this exciting club and city.
What were the first days at the Development Squad like?
EM: It's quite different from Dortmund. In Birmingham we already meet on the training ground for a mutual breakfast. Then training, then lunch. Here we do more things together. In Dortmund we mostly met for training in the afternoon.
What are the differences in the training units?
EM: Actually, there aren't any big differences. Football is actually the same everywhere. In the youth academy it is all about learning the basics. Trapping the ball, passing, and the like. That might be the same everywhere. Here in England fitness plays a big role. Even during training in the Development Squad things get a bit rough. What's more, Richard Beale, the U 21 coach, places a high value on the improvement of personal abilities. I have to do my personal training units after every team unit.Sometimes it's only header training, sometimes one against one, and thus I can get better every day.
Are you in contact with the First Team and Manager Gary Rowett?
EM: Yeah, sure. We have close contacts here at Birmingham City. I frequently join them at training.
What are your aims at Birmingham City?
EM: It is my aim to make the leap into the first team. The faster, the better.I train very hard every day to reach this aim. Of course the competition among the central defenders is quite high, but still I want to assert myself at Birmingham City. This is in my hands.
Are you interested in the history of Birmingham City?
EM: Of course I have informed myself about the long club history. This is the only way to get a feeling for this traditional club. I know that many young players started their successful career here at the Blues.
What are the greatest differences in everyday life in Germany and England?
EM: It's hard to tell after only four weeks. My first impression is that there aren't really big differences. It always depends on how you are received and how you behave yourself. Up to now I am very happy in Birmingham.
How do you keep in touch with your family in Germany?
EM: I call my parents and my three younger brothers and sisters in Bochum every day. And it's no longer a problem in times of Internet, emails, Facebook and so on.
Your curriculum vitae sounds quite interesting. Please tell us something about your past.
EM: I was born in Cameroon in 1996. When I was ten years old, my parents and I came to Germany in 2006. It was during the World Championship in Germany, which I found very fascinating. We moved to Bochum where my family still lives today. Of course the African culture has influenced me. In Cameroon I learned French. In Germany I learned German and English, so I can speak some languages which certainly helps me a lot in Birmingham. I attended a "European School" with a bilingual branch where I also passed my A levels.
What do you think about the current situation of the refugees in Germany against your own background?
EM: I was lucky to come to Germany back then without any needs and thus wasn't in an emergency situation as opposed to the refugees nowadays. I think that Germany is right now an example that living together can work out well. Looking at the numbers of refugees coming to Germany at the moment I think this is quite remarkable as opposed to other countries. I'm sure Germany will find a peaceful solution for living together with the refugees. Of course it will be difficult at the beginning, but I am really convinced that the issues of refugees will move forward.
Did you experience any acts of racism in Germany when your were young?
EM: I was received very well in Germany and actually gained only positive experiences. I didn't gain any racist experiences neither at school nor in sport. I think we live in a world in which these things shouldn't play a role any longer. Of course you hear some words from time to time but you know that sometimes it's only fun. It is important that skin colour or your origin don't play a role when the chips come down.
Do your already know the lyrics of "Keep right on" by heart?
EM: Not yet, but I'll know them soon (laughs).
Final question: You have been wearing the yellow and black jersey of Borussia Dortmund for seven years and now you are playing in the colours of Dortmund's greatest opponent Schalke, in blue and white. How big was that change?
EM: That felt quite strange at the beginning. But I'll get used to it soon (laughs).
We would like to thank our very pleasant interviewee Emmanuel Mbende for the wonderful talk at St. Andrew's. Our thanks go also out to the club Birmingham City FC and David Boston for making the interview possible.
We wish Emmanuel all the best for his future and hope to see this exceptional player and personality on the pitch of St. Andrew's in the jersey of the first team one day.
KEEP RIGHT ON, Emmanuel!