GOAL - Stephen Crawford
Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie has admitted that it is his dream to one day play in the Premier League at a side that consistently challenges for a place in Europe, while also recalling his comical introduction to football and detailing how he has been handling life in lockdown.
Snapped up from the youth ranks of FC Dallas in 2016, it took the 21-year-old just one season to break into the Bundesliga side's first team, making his debut from the bench in a 1-1 draw with Ingolstadt in May of 2017.
A combative presence in Schalke's engine room, McKennie has gone from strength to strength since making his breakthrough three years ago and he revealed his hope that his career trajectory will one day see him ply his trade in England's top tier.
“For me, the next goal is England. It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League,” the 19-time capped US international said in an exclusive interview with Goal and DAZN.
Yet while McKennie has firmly established himself as one to watch, things could have turned out much differently for the United States international, who admits he knew little about the sport when making his first foray into football.
“I didn't know what soccer was, I only knew baseball, basketball and [American] football,” he said. “That was it. I did my very first trial in American football cleats and a polo shirt!”
McKennie's move to Germany actually represented the second time he has lived in the country, with the player's military father having been stationed in Kaiserslautern for three years when he was a child.
As such, getting to grips with the German language and socializing was far easier than it might have been for others. He said: “My mother always said that I was a social butterfly. I could have been friends with a rock. It was relatively easy for me to relearn German again, I hadn't forgotten too much.”
With the Bundesliga set to return to action next weekend with a derby date against Borussia Dortmund, the Schalke ace will likely have to alert his sleeping pattern, which has been flipped on its head during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown.
“On days off, I get up at 1pm, I'm on the couch at 2pm, I watch Netflix at 3pm and I only train in the evening,” he said of his current teenager-like lifestyle. “I train at around midnight, or sometimes 1am. It's not until 5am that I go to bed.”