Vitaly Janelt began his football love affair while playing on a court around the corner from his house.
Fuelled by peach iced tea from the local supermarket, Vitaly’s tales of playing football with his friends until day turned to night are instantly relatable - even for those of us who can only dream of the heights he has since gone on to reach.
Vitaly has come a long way since those days. In fact, he’s come a long way in the last 12 months alone.
Signed from German second division side VfL Bochum in October last year, the 23-year-old admits he struggled to find consistency during his time at the Ruhrstadion. He has had no such problems since making the switch to West London. The powerful midfielder featured in 54 games in three-and-a-half years at Bochum - he made 47 appearances in all competitions for Brentford last term.
Having tasted Play-Off Final success at Wembley Stadium on 29 May, Vitaly flew straight to Hungary the next day to join Germany’s squad for the UEFA European Under-21 Championship. He would lift his second trophy in as many weekends on 6 June as Germany overcame Portugal 1-0 in the Final.
Vitaly’s stock continues to rise; he has looked at home in the Premier League and found the net during our memorable 3-3 draw with Liverpool in September. Whatever he goes on to achieve in his career, 2021 will be a year that Vitaly looks back upon with much fondness.
Vitaly on his earliest memories of playing football…
I have three brothers - two of them [Vincent and Victor] now play in the Fifth Division in Germany. Growing up, we would play on a court near where we lived. The days were so long, particularly in the summer. After school I’d get my homework done and head straight to the pitch. We’d always go to the supermarket first and buy a peach iced tea for 50 cents, then we’d play from around three in the afternoon to seven or eight in the evening until the lights went out. Every time my parents would call me: “Try to be home at six but don’t be later than seven!”
Ralf Rangnick’s impact at RB Leipzig…
I think he’s a very good coach. For him it’s football, football, football – he gives everything. Discipline is very important to him and he likes to develop young players. I think he’ll try to get them to press like his teams in Leipzig and Salzburg, but he’s working with different players and, as the head coach, he has only six months. He’ll still be around the team after that, though, watching closely and making sure everything is perfect. It’ll be very interesting to see how he does things in Manchester. He’s a very, very good manager.
And becoming a fans’ favourite…
The fans have been amazing with me and I love it every time I hear my song. I hear it every time. It’s special when you hear it and you know it’s for you.
It’s not just in the home games, either. I think back to the West Ham game, in a big stadium, and the away fans were just as loud as the home fans. It’s so important that they support us, whether it’s against Chelsea or Burnley. Every player, every member of staff, every fan - we are family, we are a team. We win, draw and lose together. If you don’t sign up for that, you’re in the wrong place.
Also included in Friday’s issue:
- Thomas Frank’s thoughts
- The lowdown on Watford
- Peter Gilham’s Great Brentford Goals
- View from the North Stand
- From the Archive
- History Boys with Keith Millen
- Coach Karleigh
- The Last Word with Ben Burgess
Priced at £4, our sellers around the stadium are now accepting contactless payments. Programmes are also available from The Bees Merchandise Kiosk on Lionel Road South and from the brand-new Bees Superstore.
Missed a game at Brentford Community Stadium this season? Fill the gaps in your programme collection here.