Summary

  • Sane set for major tournament debut with Germany at Euro 2016.
  • A product of Schalke's acclaimed youth academy.
  • Joachim Löw says 20-year-old has "a special gift".

Following a string of eye-catching displays for FC Schalke 04 during the second half of 2015/16, the innate artistry of majestic young midfielder Leroy Sane was simply too good to ignore for Germany coach Joachim Löw.

"For me, his emergence is one of the stories of the season," Löw said, having named the 20-year-old Knappenschmiede academy graduate in his final 23-man squad for UEFA Euro 2016. "He's quick, strong technically, looks for the one-on-ones and is carefree. We see huge potential in him. He's got a special gift and finesse."

The real deal

Disciples of the European game will already be familiar with Sane's spellbinding attributes after he announced himself on the UEFA Champions League stage with a stunning long-range effort against Real Madrid CF in March 2015. It was not his first goal for Schalke, but it was certainly his most memorable.

"I didn't know he had it in him," recalled Leroy's father Souleyman, who himself made 174 Bundesliga appearances between 1988 and 1994. "Look back at the footage: I never scored a goal from so far out like Leroy did against Real Madrid. There's no way I could have done that."

Sane stole headlines with his performance against Real Madrid in the 2014/15 Champions League Round of 16.

Run, Leroy, run

The obvious differences between father and son as players aside - one was an archetypal front man while the other is a twinkle-toed attacking midfielder - Sane Snr.'s words of wisdom are always welcome in Leroy's book. "He can give me tips any time," the latest piece of Schalke gold explained. "He knows exactly how to deal with it when you've had a bad game."

Not that Sane Jnr. has had many of those. He made 42 appearances in all competitions for boyhood club Schalke in 2015/16, registering nine goals and seven assists, and even earned the rather apt moniker 'The Forest Gump of Schalke' on account of his Herculean engine.

Sane is nevertheless adamant that he is far from the finished article: "I have to improve in the tackle, make better use of my body and be stronger. These are all things that are required of you in the Bundesliga, much more so than in the youth leagues. I know that I've not had my breakthrough yet."

Euro platform awaits

Although some might see Sane's inclusion in Germany's Euro 2016 squad as something of a gamble, Die Mannschaft's man at the helm and fans alike are right to have no such concerns. The Schalke whizz is every bit a star in the ascendant, whose halcyon days could be just around the corner.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge