Inside German Football: Germany’s young guns clear the way for nation’s future
The scale of the change in German football was underlined by the age profile of their World Cup-winning squad
The scale of the change in German football was underlined by the age profile of their World Cup-winning squad. Two of the players were barely out of their teens and a third, Mario Götze, having just turned 22, became the youngest scorer of a goal in a World Cup final since Wolfgang Weber (guess where he came from) in 1966.
Götze may only have been the third youngest member of Joachim Löw’s travelling party – but then, he might point out, this wasn’t his first major championship.
Götze, originally from Memmingen in the south, was first attached to a club when he was just three years old. That was SC Ronsburg in Bavaria, after which the family moved and he had a couple of years on the books of Eintracht Hombrich near his new home in Dortmund. By the age of eight he was under the wing of the Borussia academy, where his brother Fabian also spent a number of years before being let go.
Mario was a standout prospect all the way through, winning the Fritz Walter Medal, awarded to the most promising player in Germany in each of three age groups every season, at under-17 and under-18 levels. He made his senior club debut in 2009, nabbed his first full international cap in 2010, and by April 2013 had done enough to persuade Bayern Munich, where another brother (Felix) now plays in the underage ranks, that he was worth €37 million.
Dortmund used some of that money a year later to buy centre-back Matthias Ginter from his hometown club Freiburg for a reported €10 million plus quite a few potential add-ons. The youngster actually started out at SV March, but was always destined to end up at the senior club.
Having turned heads as he came through the ranks (he was a Fritz Walter Medal winner in both 2012 and 2013), Ginter made an immediate impact at senior level, scoring the only goal of a crucial relegation game with Augsburg after having been brought on in the second half by Christiam Streich (the longtime under-19 coach who was himself in charge of the first team for the very first time). It was two days after the centre-back’s 18th birthday.
Julian Draxler, meanwhile, was born in Gladbeck, not far from Gelsenkirchen, whiled away his early career (years five to eight) at BV Rentfort and SSV Buer, before joining the Schalke 04 youth academy in 2001. He was already a fan of the club, attending many home games with his father, and he soon stood out as a serious prospect in their underage teams.
Draxler won his Fritz Walter Medal in 2011, the same year he made his Bundesliga debut. These days, at the ripe old age of 21, he has more than 100 first team games under his belt and is into double figures on the international front. Major clubs from across Europe, including Arsenal and Manchester United, are reported to quite fancy recruiting the attacking midfielder.
Well, quite frankly, who wouldn’t?