A wealth of experience for Merveille Papela
The homegrown Mainzer looks back on his busy weekend and reflects on all the experience he has gained this season.
Merveille Papela experienced many firsts in the sensational victory over Bayern at the weekend. It was the first time he had experienced a sold-out MEWA ARENA, and the first time he had played in a Mainz victory in the Bundesliga. “The weekend went really well for me,” said Papela. Not only did he come on as a substitute against the Bundesliga champions on the Saturday, but he also scored a brace for the U23s on the Sunday. Game time in the Regionalliga Südwest alongside daily training sessions with the first team is sure to help the Papela with his development, something that the 21-year-old is fully aware of: “It’s a great mix of everything,” he said.
About eleven years ago, Papela moved to the Bruchweg from TSV SCHOTT Mainz and worked his way up the ranks in the FSV youth academy from the U11s onwards. In 2019 he secured his first professional contract with the club, when he was a member of the U19s. Papela made an impression on the Mainz academy manager, Volker Kersting, who described the youngster as the “embodiment of our training philosophy.”
I have not experienced the MEWA ARENA as full as that. It was an amazing experience.
“I have not experienced the MEWA ARENA as full as that. It was an amazing experience. Celebrating in front of the fans after the game and then in the dressing room was so much fun,” said Papela, who was delighted to be able to share his joy after the Bayern game with the supporters. The 21-year-old has been named in Bo svensson’s matchday squad 20 times so far this season and even managed to get a full half of action against VfL Wolfsburg. “I feel I have taken a big step forward with my development but there is still a long way to go. I still have lots to achieve and I am not yet satisfied.” Although he hasn’t had too much playing time in the first team, Papela knows that every second counts. “Better to have some experience than none at all,” he said.
Developing his game at the top of the pitch
The experience he has gained in the Regionalliga Südwest with the U23s is also something that has helped him greatly. Papela, who is usually utilised as a hard-working central-midfielder, has also taken great strides in developing his game at the top of the pitch. In 15 appearances for the U23s this season, the youngster has scored five times and has two assists to his name. He scored a brace in the 4-1 win over FK Pirmasens on Sunday, proving he also has the offensive credentials. “I have developed myself as a player and as a person,” said the young talent. “After every season, I try to evaluate what I am doing well and what I can do better. My attacking game is something that I can improve on.”
We work well as a team in the U23s and we always try to push each other.
The U23s coach Bartosch Gaul was also full of praise for the 21-year-old after Sunday’s game. Papela, who plays in this side with the likes of Paul Nebel, Lasse Rieß and Niklas Tauer, believes that there is lots of work still to do for the U23s and he will continue to give it his full commitment. This, however, is expected of the young players at Mainz. “That isn’t difficult for me. We work well as a team in the U23s and we always try to push each other.” Balancing the responsibilities of the first team and the reserve team is a challenge that Papela relishes: “Mainz 05 is Mainz 05. We have certain values that we need to fulfill. There are no problems if you go from the top to the bottom or the other way round,” he emphasised.