Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy: ‘Kane has pushed Bundesliga strikers to raise their level’ | Stuttgart
“I didn’t know about this stat – it’s been the same a few times this season,” Serhou Guirassy says with a chuckle. The Stuttgart striker has just been informed he scored with his first eight shots on target in the Bundesliga during what can only be described as a miraculous start to the campaign that made records tumble.
After five goals in his first three matches, a perfect hat-trick – right foot, left foot and header – against Mainz on 16 September made it eight goals from four before Guirassy scored two against Darmstadt the following week. The 27-year-old then made up for not finding the net in a 2-0 win over his former club Köln by registering a 15-minute hat-trick against Wolfsburg – the fastest in the Bundesliga for more than 50 years – at the start of October. That surpassed Robert Lewandowski’s 2019-20 mark of 11 goals in his first seven matches before another goal a week later in the 3-0 win at Union Berlin made him – at that point – the top scorer in Europe’s five leading leagues.
“Before the game against Union, I didn’t know that if I scored 14 goals in eight matches I would break the record,” says Guirassy, a Guinea international who grew up in the Loiret department two hours south of Paris. “I just play my game and if I can score or provide an assist then I will do that. When you have a good period you want to do more. I’m happy about what I have achieved but for me it’s not finished. I want to continue.”
Guirassy’s goals have catapulted a club that has struggled against relegation in recent seasons into contention for a Champions League position, and during his recent absence with a hamstring strain Stuttgart lost successive Bundesliga games against Hoffenheim then Heidenheim. That allowed England’s Harry Kane to move ahead in the race for the Kicker-Torjägerkanone after his hat-trick against Borussia Dortmund. But with Dortmund in town on Saturday, Guirassy is ready to make up for lost time.
“It’s never a good time to be injured but football is like this and life is like this,” he says. “I’m calm in my head and I’m lucky it’s not a more serious injury. It’s something big to be competing with Harry Kane, who is a world-class striker. I think he has pushed a lot of strikers in the Bundesliga to raise their level to try and compete with him.”
This kind of success has been a long time coming for Guirassy, who was tipped for stardom by his youth coaches at J3 Amilly. The J3 Amilly president, Olivier Rolland, has described him as a “fox in the box”, saying “Serhou has a presence and always knows exactly where to be”. Scoring goals is a skill that has always come naturally.
“I’m always trying to be in the right place at the right time,” he says. “Last season I managed to score some easy goals because I was able to work out where the ball would go. It’s something instinctive. When I was younger, I liked to run everywhere on the pitch but I’ve learned about myself. I watch a lot of football on TV and I like to watch players like Lewandowski, Kane or [Erling] Haaland and analyse what they are doing. You learn from the best and scoring goals is an art. I like to play with the ball but the most important thing is to be ready in the box.”
Guirassy adds: “It’s also about confidence. You can miss one chance in the game but you have to be focused on the next one. I try not to get nervous because if you have another chance then you will miss for sure. In football you can’t convert every chance that you have.”
That self-belief proved vital when Guirassy was struggling with injuries at Köln, having moved there as a 20-year-old in 2016 after stints at Laval, Lille and a successful loan with Auxerre in Ligue 2 when he scored eight times in 16 appearances. He scored the winner for Köln from the penalty spot against Arsenal in a Europa League tie in 2017 after being fouled by Mathieu Debuchy but the club were relegated that season and he eventually returned to France with Amiens.
“Maybe I was a little bit too young and I didn’t know myself as well as I do today,” Guirassy says. “I had a lot of injuries but it was a good experience – in sport you have to learn from these things to have success in the future. I’m someone who thinks a lot about the future. Not only in football but in life. Sometimes you have bad times but it’s not the end of your life. It’s important to be able to keep going and never give up.”
Guirassy had to go through another relegation in the Covid-affected 2019-20 season, although his nine goals caught for Amiens the eye of Rennes and he finished as Rennes’ top scorer as they competed in the Champions League for the first time. He joined Stuttgart initially on loan before making the move permanent in the summer and hasn’t looked back, last week getting his first nomination for the African men’s player of the year award.
“I just woke up and my phone was ringing but I didn’t know why,” he says. “I’m very happy about that. I know my chances are tough because [Victor] Osimhen had a very good season but it’s something very nice because they recognise you. This is something that will push me.”
Any chances of finishing ahead of Kane in the top scorers’ charts may not be helped by his involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations in January, with Guinea drawn in the “group of death” alongside the holders Senegal, Cameroon and the Gambia. “I think Senegal and Cameroon are not happy to be with us either,” says Guirassy.
His €17.5m release clause could tempt clubs from the Premier League into making a move in January if the goals keep flowing. “I cannot hide these things – everyone knows the Premier League is one of the most competitive leagues in the world,” he says. “But at this time I don’t close any doors. There are some very big teams in Europe and it’s not focused only on the Premier League. At Stuttgart we have such a good team and everything is possible in football. If we can continue to be humble like we have been so far then we have a good chance.”