Within the space of 53 days, Timo Werner managed to break three club records, despite the fact that he was initially planned to feature for the Swabians’ second-string team.
It was on August 1st when the young striker made his professional debut under coach Bruno Labbadia against Botev Plovdiv in the Europa League qualification rounds at the young age of 17 years four months and 25 days. He, therefore, became the youngest Bundesliga player in the history of VfB Stuttgart, taking the record off Gerhard Poschner. Exactly one month later, on his Bundesliga debut, he helped his team beat Hoffenheim 6:2 at home, thanks to his two assists. He capped off his excellent start as a professional with his first goal on September 22nd, which saved the Swabians’ 120th anniversary party in a match against Eintracht Frankfurt. Three broken records within seven-and-a-half weeks are not a bad start. Stuttgart’s supporters are hoping that, after a prolonged period of waiting, another one of their top young talents can make it at the top.
For Timo Werner, it all began at the age of four when his parents decided to sign him up for the Bambinis, the lowest youth level of TSV Steinhaldenfeld, a team in the east of Stuttgart. It was only four years later when first glimpses of his talent emerged at one of VfB Stuttgart’s youth days. He switched sides from the F-Jugend to Stuttgart’s U-9 youth level and, ever since then, his career developed according to plan, as he played through all of VfB Stuttgart’s youth divisions. By the he reached the U-13 side, he was getting call ups regularly to play for the older age groups.
At just fourteen years of age, Werner made his debut for the U-15 German National Team against Poland. Germany won 5-1 and Werner contributed with a hat-trick. Eighteen months later, he had already played for the German U-17 side and was called up to compete at the European Championships, where his team finished second, beaten only by the Netherlands. That same season he had helped Stuttgart’s U-17 side with 24 goals to reach the Bundesliga final. Despite having the top scorer in their team, Stuttgart surprisingly lost to Hertha BSC Berlin. These were moments for the young striker to learn from, something which he admitted as “very painful” in one of his few interviews he gave Kick-S . The youngster explained: “After that I did not want to have anything to do with football for two weeks straight. I was fed up with the sport. But as the new season started, everything was forgotten.” Luckily, indeed.
His progress continued steadily. With 24 goals and six assists in 23 games in the A-Jugend Bundesliga, as well as 18 goals and three assists in 17 games for the National Team, Werner continued making a name for himself the following season. At the end of it, he was awarded the Fritz Walter Medal as the best German youth player in his age group. It is the highest youth football accolade in Germany and it is almost always won by a player from VfB Stuttgart’s youth sides. The great 2012/2013 season was crowned with a call-up to the pre-season training camp of the senior team. In fact, Werner was intended to play for Stuttgart’s second team even though he was still eligible for another season with the A-Jugend, but he exceeded all expectations and there was no return for the whizz kid. He coped well with the higher physical level at the senior team given his strong physique, which helped him adapt quickly to the perks of being a professional footballer, such as no longer having to clean his boots after practice: “The first time practicing with the professionals was something completely new for me. Until that day, I only knew the players from watching them on television but now I sit next to them in the dressing room”, Werner told VfB Stuttgart’s club newspaper DUNKELROT.
Due to his status and his incredible goal-scoring record, one did not have to wait long before people started comparing him with Mario Gomez. Although Werner, who will pass his A-levels in spring 2014, feels flattered by the comparison because Gomez is one of his favorite players, he is a different type of striker than the goal-scoring machine currently playing for Fiorentina. Werner impresses not only with his lethality in front of goal but also with his powerful shot and is speed. These traits are exactly why the new coach Thomas Schneider continues to play on the left wing. While the normal option for this position is Ibrahima Traore, even though his fast dribbling is often labelled too wasteful, Timo Werner shines with one goal, two assists and enormous effort in his first five games. After his debut against Botev Plovdiv and despite the sacking of Bruno Labbadia, coach Schneider continues to play him. It is one of the characteristics of the new coach to put trust in the club’s youth players, but given Werner’s excellent start it is deservedly so. It is not only Schneider who is impressed by Werner’s talent and his skills. The whole city of Stuttgart hopes that after the departures of Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira, the club can bring another star through their youth levels.
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