“It was a special moment”

VfL Academy director Michael Gentner reflects on the highlights and surprises of an emotional 2023.

Michael Gentner, Direktor der VfL Wolfsburg-Akademie im Portrait.

Three VfL Wolfsburg academy graduates made their first-team debuts during the first half of the 2023/24 campaign. In this interview, VfL Academy director Michael Gentner shares his thoughts on the young Wolves and looks back on an emotional 2023.

Michael Gentner, how would you sum up the first half of the season?

Michael: “The lads have really made great progress – I’m very happy. Here at the academy, the focus is on individual development. We don’t want to be defined by titles or cup victories, but rather by developing young players for the first team. Every day the coaches have worked hard with the players on their strengths and weaknesses, which is reflected in our results and in the table too.”

The Wolves’ U19 and U17 teams are both second in the table at the winter break. What are your thoughts on that?

Michael: “We’ve had a few more new additions to our U19 squad this season because we wanted to – and had to – strengthen in a few specific areas. The training camp in Opalenica played a great role in helping the lads settle into the team quickly. The week in Poland also showed that we’re heading in the right direction. I’d never have dreamed that the first half of the campaign would go so well.”

Academy graduate Kofi Amoako made his Bundesliga debut in the win at Darmstadt. Would you say that was just reward for the efforts of the VfL Academy? 

Michael: “Yes, it was a special moment that showed us all once again what we’re working towards every day. We’re delighted that he was the third youngster to make his first-team debut in such a short space of time, after Dzenan Pejcinovic and Lukas Ambros. It’s indicative of the collaboration between the first team and the academy. Kofi is a very special player who’s very humble and has a great personality. We were all very happy and proud to see our U19 captain on the pitch in the Bundesliga for the first time.”

Finally, let’s cast an eye towards the future. What are your wishes for the new year?

Michael: “I’m very happy with 2023. Our main objective for the new year remains the same – we want to generate as much game time as possible for our youngsters in the first team. Generally speaking, I want all our players, coaches and employees to stay healthy in the new year, as that’s the foundation for every success.”