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Jeremie Frimpong: Writing history as an unbeaten champion

Amid the final, blissful weeks of the best season of his career so far, Dutch international Jeremie Frimpong (23) looks back on an exciting episode of his career and simultaneously looks ahead to what’s still to come. And according to him, that’s a lot.

Jeremie Frimpong Bayer Leverkusen

Suddenly, there was Jeremie Frimpong, the lightning-fast right wing-back setting the Bundesliga on fire, who has already had a football journey that took him from the Netherlands to England and now to Germany. He thinks quickly, plays with agility, and speaks rapidly. Even over the phone from Germany on the eve of yet another crucial match where he will make history, he switches effortlessly between English with a fine British accent and the occasional Dutch word.


This summer, he must bring football success to the Netherlands at the European Championship, where he aims to make a significant impact with the Dutch national team. In Germany, no less, the country he has been enriching for four seasons with his unrivalled runs down the right flank, and where he is known off the pitch as the cheerful guy with those happy post-match interviews. He fulfilled Germany’s long-held wish by breaking the dominance of perennial champions Bayern Munich. Thus, he became a champion with his club Bayer Leverkusen, a team known for its history of second places and sadly lost finals. Until Frimpong settled in Leverkusen, alongside the Spanish wonder coach Xabi Alonso. “Yes, this is truly the best season of my life,” he says unequivocally. “Going so long without losing a single match is something every footballer strives for. Winning everything and losing nothing are two rules every footballer dreams of from the moment they start playing. I am experiencing it now as a professional. It’s something unreal.”

Even matches that seemed lost this season were still won or at least turned into a draw. No team came back from a deficit more often than Jeremie Frimpong’s Bayer Leverkusen. “We fight until the very last minute of injury time. That’s what characterizes us. And I think it characterizes me too. I have learned to always fight for my place. But I always knew for sure that I would make it, that I would become a professional footballer. Really, from the first time I kicked a ball and played a game with the boys in the neighbourhood. I never had any doubts.”

Jeremie Frimpong Bayer Leverkusen

Playing Outside

He started playing football in the neighbourhood at the age of seven in England, not in the Bijlmer district of Amsterdam, where he was born but never touched a ball. Here’s why: Young Jeremie was not allowed to play outside in the Dutch capital by his mother. She thought it was too dangerous. So he mostly stayed indoors and watched Champions League matches on TV, preferably those of Barcelona with Lionel Messi. “Being cautious with their children and worrying, that’s just how mothers are,” he says now, laughing in full sentences laced with family love. His family is dear to him. “There were eight of us at home. I have three brothers and three sisters. Most were born in the Netherlands and Ghana. I’m the middle child.” After matches, his youngest sister is often the first to call or text him. “She knows everything. About me and my achievements but also about football in general. She plays basketball. My brother Wesley plays in the youth team of Bolton Wanderers. We are a real sports family. It’s in our genes, I think. My father was a sprinter in Ghana. Now he loves tennis. All my sisters are fast too. I myself have never had to do anything for that speed.”

His brother, Jeffrey Lemmert, five years older, is an agent and took care of Jeremie in his early years in England. He took him to the youth academy of Manchester City. Initially by bus, later by car. Jeffrey sacrificed his own football career for it. Now he is an agent and sits front row at the successes of his little brother, who sometimes needed a bit of support. When he left Manchester City, the move to Scottish Celtic initially seemed huge. “I didn’t want to go there,” Jeremie recalls. “I found it really a big step. I had to go to Glasgow, another city in another country, but I still went. You have to go through it.” He became a champion there, stood out, and eventually ended up in Germany. “I think I adapt quickly. When we moved from the Netherlands to England with the family, we didn’t like it at first.” His parents saw more opportunities for their children on the other side of the North Sea, despite missing stroopwafels, kaassoufflés, and nasi. “Such a big change of environment always takes some time. You could call my life turbulent. Busy, maybe. I have moved a lot. That also gives a certain enrichment to life.”

The full article can be read in ISSUE 81, which is available right now.