"It feels great to be home"

Keke Topp on his return to the Weser

[Translate to Englisch:] Keke Topp sitzt auf einem Stuhl vor einer grünen Wand. Rechts hinten steht ein Scheinwerfer.
Keke Topp is excited to begin his new chapter at Werder Bremen (Photo: WERDER.DE).
Wednesday, 19.06.2024 / 10:30

Young talent Keke Topp is back in Bremen after spending three years at second-division side Schalke 04, where the 20-year-old forward got his first taste of senior football and gained valuable experience in the process. SVW’s new signing spoke to WERDER.DE about his development over the past few years and what made him decide to return to his former club.

WERDER.DE: Moin, Keke. Welcome back to Bremen! What was it like returning to the city where you spent the majority of your playing career?

Keke Topp: I’m delighted to be back after having spent eight years here playing for the youth teams. Now that the short spell at Schalke is over, it feels great to be home.

I always said that I wouldn’t leave Schalke unless Werder came knocking. I love this club and played here for half of my life.
Keke Topp

WERDER.DE: You managed to break into the first team while at Schalke 04 last season. Why have you chosen to take the next step in your career with the Green-Whites?

Keke Topp: That’s a tricky one, because Schalke has a very special place in my heart. I always said that I wouldn’t leave Schalke unless Werder came knocking. I love this club and played here for half of my life. We then got in contact and had some good conversations. Obviously, it’s a great opportunity for me to play some Bundesliga football, but coming back home is also what made me decide to sign for the club.

WERDER.DE: You’ve been away from the club for three years now. Were you always in touch with Werder over that time?

Keke Topp: We never lost contact. I kept supporting the club as a fan, and was in the crowd at the 3-2 away win over Dortmund for instance. I also remained in touch with my former teammates and coach.

WERDER.DE: You mentioned being in contact with your former teammates. You played in both the Werder and Germany youth teams with Mio Backhaus. Are you looking forward to being reunited, and have you reached out to any of your other future teammates?

Keke Topp: I haven’t been in contact with any of my new teammates yet, only Mio, who will be conceding a lot of goals in training soon (laughs). I do, of course, also know a few players from my time in the U23s such as Eren Dinkçi and Nick Woltemade. They’re unfortunately not at Werder anymore, but have only had positive things to say about the club and first-team setup, which made the decision even easier for me.

WERDER.DE: You made the conscious decision to leave Bremen and head to Gelsenkirchen back in 2021. To what extent do you feel it was beneficial to your personal development to step out of your comfort zone?

Keke Topp: It was super important. I matured a lot during my time at Schalke and had one of the best youth team coaches in the country while with the U19s, Norbert Elgert. He taught me a lot and I’m very grateful to him. We still have a really close relationship and I wouldn’t be at the point I’m at now if I hadn’t made the decision to take a step away from Bremen.

WERDER.DE: You’re also close with Simon Terodde, who you described as a friend rather than a competitor for a place in the team. How much were you able to learn from his experience?

Keke Topp: I was able to learn a lot, because Simon’s a very clever striker and a real goal poacher. I’ve learnt so much from him in both a personal and a professional sense.

WERDER.DE: We’ve seen that you’re a very strong striker who has an eye for goal. How would you personally describe your playing style?

Keke Topp: Just like you said. I play in a very similar way to Niclas Füllkrug. I use my body a lot and always try to hold the ball up, so essentially like a classic number 9.

WERDER.DE: You were in and around the first team as a 17-year-old, and made your Bundesliga debut while still in the youth team. How often did you have to remind yourself of the importance of patience throughout your development as a player?

Keke Topp: It all went so quickly back then and nothing followed a set plan. It took me five months to make my first debut for Schalke due to injury, after which I was forced to wait a bit again. However, Norbert Elgert repeatedly said how important it was to remain patient and that hard work is always rewarded.

WERDER.DE: You’re set to begin your first campaign in the German top flight. What attributes are you looking to carry into the new season?

Keke Topp: My relaxed nature and sense of humour. I will continue to give my all in training and matches, so that I can make as much progress as possible and take the next steps in my development to contribute towards Werder’s success.

WERDER.DE: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us, Keke!

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