Believe it or not, but it’s actually not easy to live in the city of Dortmund right now. The unemployment rate is high, 12, 4 percent of the city’s population does not have a job to go to every morning, according to the AP, and the city is in millions of euros in debt. More importantly though, until the last few weeks the football hasn’t been as successful as the yellow and black faithful has become used to. During the Christmas and New Year’s break, BVB held one of the two relegation spots and it looked as if they would remain there for a long time, even when the pause came to an end.
This because BVB began the Rückrunde by drawing away to Leverkusen and then losing at home to FC Augsburg, a result the fans did not like. They reacted angrily, and goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller had to climb the fence before the huge yellow wall to calm the supporters down.
But there seem to be good times looming. Dortmund ran riot at SC Freiburg’s Dreisamstadion last weekend, and followed the impressive result up with another fine show against FSV Mainz at home, before earning a MatchDay 22 win in Stuttgart. In all three games, 25-year-old Dortmund-native Marco Reus managed to score a goal, but his future has been said to be up in the air. The 25-year-old’s contract has for a long time included a clause that has made him available on the transfer market for 25 million euros. Clubs like Bayern München, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester City, Chelsea and many more have therefore been said to be keen on signing the midfielder. However, that now seems to be something of a mission impossible.
For Reus last week inked an extension with his boyhood club until 2019, and thus removed his old buy-out-clause. It doesn’t have to mean he will spend his whole career at Dortmund, but it sure makes him a whole lot more expensive to sign. It’s an extremely rare act in modern-day football where money has become more important than the badge on the chest, and the colors of the shirts.
Reus isn’t that special, though. He is representing a club from the city he was born in, just like a whole lot of other Bundesliga players are currently doing. In fact, only Borussia Möchengladbach, TSG Hoffenheim, VfL Wolfsburg, FSV Mainz, SC Freiburg and Bayer Leverkusen lacks a local-born player.
One of the many clubs with a variety of local players within their senior setup is SC Paderborn. The club can theoretically field a starting lineup including five players born within their city’s border, whom being Martin Amedick, Lukas Kruse, Alexander Nübel, Mahir Saglik and Christian Strohdiek. It’s fair to say that SCP wouldn’t be much without their homegrown heroes: Strohdiek has represented the club 16 times this season from his centre back position and has provided one assist. Goalkeeper Kruse has also been vital, even though he has conceded 34 goals in 20 league matches. Nübel is a hot prospect who’s probably not far away from making his Bundesliga debut and Saglik was a very important piece of the last campaign’s team that secured promotion to the highest tier of German football. The 27-year-old scored 15 goals last season, a tally he hasn’t been able to reach this year. The attacker was injured when the season opened, and has since not been able to reach the top of his level.
Hertha Berlin is another club that is packed with local-born footballers. Änis Ben-Hatira, Nico Schulz, Sascha Burchert and John Anthony Brooks are all born in Berlin and a part of Herthas senior team. Until the winter transfer window, the Olympiastadion-outfit also had Hany Mukhtar (today Benfica) within their ranks. Ben-Hatira re-joined the capital club in 2011 from Hamburger SV, while Schulz and Burchert never have represented any other club than Hertha. Together, the Berlin-natives have scored four goals and assisted five, and represented the club 41 times his league campaign.
Patrick Helmes, Timo Horn, Thomas Kessler, Marcel Risse and André Wallenborn have one thing in common: they are all born in Cologne, and represent FC Köln. However, only two of them have played for the club this season, but 19-year-old Wallenborn is likely to make his debut any time soon. The duo that has been included in the starting lineup this Bundesliga campaign is shot stopper Horn, who has kept a clean sheet at nine occasions since the beginning of the season, and Risse, who has scored three goals and assisted one from his position out wide in midfield. The two has 36 matches between themselves, a number that will be a lot bigger towards the end of the season, especially if head coach Peter Stöger decides to use Wallenborn before the summer.
Augsburg’s location close to Munich hasn’t stopped the towns Bundesliga side from producing talents of its own. None of the three Augsburg-natives in the senior team have a single cap this season, but Arif Ekin, Raphael Framberger and Ioannis Gelios are still young and will most likely show their worth in the Bundesliga at some point in the future. Gelios have been Augsburg’s reserve team’s first choice between the posts this season in the Regionalliga Bayern, and he has also been included on the bench for the senior team lately, as a 22-year-old. Framberger has been slightly more prominent than his 19-year-old counterpart Ekin in the Regionalliga, and thus also been awarded with an inclusion in the senior team this campaign. However, Ekin has already been vital in Turkeys U18 national team, and it’s not a question if, but when the left winger makes his debut on the big stage.
Hamburg is a real football city with two teams attracting big audiences. And there is some talent, too. Ashton-Philip Götz, Philipp Müller and Matti Steinmann have both made their Bundesliga debuts for Hamburger SV this campaign, and especially Götz has made a name for himself. The 21-year-old has represented HSV eight times in the league, and assisted two goals. Steinmann’s real breakthrough is yet to come, as is Philipp Müller’s, but they both looks set to have a bright future on the football field ahead.
Eintracht Frankfurt have this season included two players who are born in their city in their senior team: Timothy Chandler and Joel Gerezgiher. Chandler has been included in the Eintracht starting eleven 16 times this season, while 19-year-old Gerezigher’s debut is still to come.
Schalke 04 can also field two local talents in their lineup: Kaan Ayhan and Marcel Sobottka. Ayhan has been included in the Gelsenkirchen-outfit’s starting eleven on 12 occasions this season, while Sobottka, who has represented Germany’s U19 national team, is yet to present himself in front of the blue and white faithful’s.
Most of us have at some point heard of Timo Werner. The 18-year-old is a massive talent who has represented Germany all the way from the U15 national team to the U19. Last year, the attacker made his Bundesliga debut when he got to play 13 minutes for VfB Stuttgart in a 1-0 loss against Bayer Leverkusen. This campaign hasn’t been worse and Werner has until this day represented Stuttgart 18 times in the league, and scored three goals. Less famous is 20-year-old Odisseas Vlachodimos, who has shown his worth in Germany’s youth national teams, but are yet to make his Bundesliga debut.
Werder Bremen has managed to turn their sinking ship into a bolstering football machine. The club has taken twelve points out of twelve possible since the beginning of the Rückrunde, and one of many players behind the transformation is Davie Selke. The 20-year-old has scored five times this league campaign, meaning he is second behind Franco di Santo in the clubs internal scoring chart. However, Selke is not a local talent and he has actually never represented the club from his birthplace (TSG Hoffenheim) on a senior level. Werder Bremen still has a homegrown talent within their rank, though. Julian von Haacke might not have made his senior debut as of today, but he has been prominent in the A-Junioren Bundesliga Nord/Nordost and will most likely get his chance to shine on the big stage in the future, perhaps dressed in Werder Bremen’s iconic green and white shirt.
Bayern München is probably the club in Germany with the most talent within their ranks. The Bundesliga champion has youngsters like Gianluca Gaudino, Sinan Kurt, David Alaba, Juan Bernat, Mario Götze and Pierre-Emile Höjbjerg (currently on loan at FC Augsburg) within their senior team. However, only one FC Bayern player is born in the city of Munich: Philipp Lahmn. The 31-year-old is a true superstar who has won all there is – the Bundesliga five times, the DFB-pokal as many times, the world cup once and the Champions League once. This season the right-back has been plagued by a malleolar fracture, but he is a threat against any team when he is healthy and ready to play.
Finally, we have Borussia Dortmund. You already know Marco Reus background story, but the one about Kevin Großkreutz might not be as famous. The 26-year-old is an integral part of Jürgen Klopp’s BVB, and he has during his impressive carrier managed to win the Bundesliga twice and the world cup with Germany once. He has shown his worth in the Bundesligs 176 times, and in the process scored 26 goals and assisted 28, while featuring at numerous positions on the field.. However, he hasn’t been completely true to his boyhood club. In 2002 he left the yellow and blacks to represent Rot Weiss Ahlen, but returned to where he belongs in 2009. And rightly so, Großkreutz has grown to become a key player in Dortmund, and he still has many years left on the big stage.
The road to get to today’s point in youth development in Germany has been long. Back in 2000, the national team finished bottom of their group at the Euros, and that called for some action. The DFB, the Bundesliga and the clubs together decided that they needed youth players who had a well-developed “technical proficient” and thus created academies right across the country’s top two divisions. In 2003, DFB launched a talent development programme with the aim to identifying prominent talents and provide them with technical and tactical knowledge at an early age. The programme today covers 366 areas of Germany and is the part-time job for some 1,000 coaches with a UEFA B license, according to the Guardian.
And it has all paid off. 26 players in the 2013 Champions League final between Bayern München and Borussia Dortmund came through the DFB initiative, and there are guaranteed more to follow. Last year’s German victory in the U19 UEFA championship at least indicates that there might be youngsters still to be discovered.
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