'Skippy' the Leverkusen Socceroo
- Robbie Kruse made a name for himself in the Bundesliga with Fortuna Düsseldorf, so much so that Bayer 04 Leverkusen came calling in summer 2013
- The 24-year-old struck his first goals for die Werkself in a 4-1 win at Mainz on Matchday 6 of the 2012/13 season
- He has also made the step up at international level for Australia, helping them to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil
- Kruse, a.k.a. 'Skippy', took his game to a new level at Hyundai A-League side Melbourne Victory, before moving to Germany to join Düsseldorf in 2011
Munich - The pin-up boy of Australian football, Bayer 04 Leverkusen midfielder Robbie Kruse is every bit a star in the ascendant.
The 24-year-old enjoyed a breakthrough season in his blossoming career in 2012/13, playing a leading role in Fortuna Düsseldorf's unltimately unssuccessful push for Bundesliga survival, as well as Australia's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiying quest. So, here at bundesliga.com, we figured it prime time to dig out all you need to know on Oceania's hottest property.
Born on 5 October 1988 in Brisbane, Australia, Robbie Thomas Kruse was picked up as a youth player by the prestigious Queensland Academy of Sport. A year later in 2005, he would move to the Australian Institute of Sport Football Program in Canberra, before penning his first professional deal at Hyundai A-League club Brisbane Roar. He struck the winning goal on his debut against Wellington Phoenix on his 19th birthday, and saw his name in lights again two weeks later against Newcastle Jets.
Sign of things to come
Kruse was part of the Australia team that took part in the 2005 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Peru. The Socceroos failed to make it out of a tough group that included Turkey and Mexico, but finished their brief campaign on a high thanks to a 2-1 victory over Uruguay, with that man Kruse netting the winning goal just seven minutes from the end at the Estadio Elias Aguirre.
Kruse played his last game for the Roar in September 2009 after agreeing a move to A-League rivals Melbourne Victory. He had to wait nearly two months to score his first goal for his new club, eventually netting against Gold Coast United on 28 November 2009. The fleet-footed midfielder would notch further milestones, becoming the first player to score a brace in a Melbourne derby, notching a first-half hat-trick against Perth Glory a month later and winning the Young Player of the Year award for the 2009/10 campaign.
After bursting onto the scene with Brisbane Roar and taking his game to the next level with Melbourne Victory in the Hyundai A-League, Kruse moved to Germany in 2011 to sign for the then Bundesliga 2 outfit Fortuna Düsseldorf on a three-year deal. "Robbie Kruse is a player with great development potential, but he is not yet the finished article," said Fortuna coach Norbert Meier at the time.
The big stage
Kruse was given the chance to impress on the international stage in a friendly against the United Arab Emirates on 5 January 2011, before being included in the squad for the 2011 Asian Cup. On 25 January 2011, Kruse scored his first international goal, in a 6-0 win over Uzbekistan in the semi-final of the same competition. Australia were defeated in the final, but Kruse was back amongst the international goals later in the year, scoring in a friendly win against Wales on 10 August 2011.
On the money
Kruse marked his Bundesliga debut in style by laying on a goal for team-mate Dani Schahin
in Düsseldorf's Matchday 1 win at FC Augsburg. The Australian delivered a typically pin-point cross for Schahin's second of the afternoon in the 79th minute, as the club celebrated their first Bundesliga home win since 5 April 1997 following a 15-year absence from Germany's top-flight.
At the double
On Matchday 20 of the 2012/13 season, Kruse ensured Fortuna at last ended a run of four games withouth a win with a coolly-taken brace against VfB Stuttgart
- his first Bundesliga double. With four goals and six assists in the 2012/13 campaign, it's little wonder Leverkusen came calling for his signature...
There's no doubt the Bundesliga is the most fan-friendly league in the world: they've even got the chant to show it - the Humba
. Following his goal-scoring heroics against Stuttgart, Kruse got his first hands-on taste of said tradition and treated the Fortuna faithful to their maiden Australian-led rendition of the banter-filled sing-along, in which players sit down in front of the fans, before taking to their feet to sing and dance in unison with the supporters.
Skippy by name, skippy by nature
Now you might not be familiar with 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo' - a 1960s Australian children's TV series recounting the adventures of a young boy and his pet kangaroo, set in the fictional Waratah National Park in Duffys Forest, near Sydney - but Kruse sure is. Indeed, 'Skippy' is the nimble midfielder's nickname, which he's carried with him throughout his playing career.
Kruse still has a long way to go at just 24, but he's already earning the plaudits back home in his native Australia.
"He's playing in a wonderful competition - arguably one of the best - in a great city with a fabulous stadium and facilities," beamed Fox Sports football expert Andy Harper. "It’s a great story. How effective he can be in translating that form to the Socceroos is the question. There’s no indication so far he can’t do it." And who could disagree...?
Compiled by Christopher Mayer-Lodge