Fresh from extending their 20-year stay in the Bundesliga, Wolfsburg have moved to bolster their defence with the signing of Hertha Berlin’s USA stalwart John Anthony Brooks.

The Berlin-born man is a fulcrum of the USMNT defence, but what else is there to know about the hulking centre-back? takes a closer look…

1) Berlin boy

Born in the German capital four years after the Berlin Wall came down, Brooks is the son of an American serviceman from Chicago. Signed by hometown club Hertha at the age of 18, Brooks' early promise was nearly derailed in April 2014 when he elected to get a large-scale tattoo on his back mid-season.

2) Tattoos

"I have no sympathy for someone who decides to do such things during the season," said then Hertha coach Jos Luhukay. Indeed, Brooks was dropped for Hertha's subsequent 2-1 loss at Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 30. Brooks was soon forgiven, however, with Luhukay reflecting: "Positive experiences aren't the only things that help young players grow up. Setbacks are also part of the learning process."

Brooks retains an affinity for tattoos - he now has images of Berlin and Illinois on either elbow.

Watch: John Anthony Brooks' US-German roots:

3) USA goal

Brooks has gone from strength to strength since. The 23-year-old now has three goals from central defence in his 24 international caps, and the first of those was what really put him on the map for fans not already familiar with his domestic exploits.

Leading Ghana 1-0 thanks to Clint Dempsey's well-taken first-minute opener, Jürgen Klinsmann sent Brooks on at half-time of the USA's first Group G game at the 2014 FIFA World Cup to help defend that advantage. The Americans held firm for the next 40 minutes, only for Andre Ayew to restore parity with eight minutes to go - cue Brooks' chance to shine at the other end. Graham Zuzi sent a corner into the box four minutes later and Brooks rose highest to power home the winner. It was quite literally a dream come true for the youngster.

Brooks' maiden international goal caused a social media storm.

"I told some team-mates I dreamed that I'd scored in the 80th minute and we had won the game," said Brooks. "It's unbelievable."

On June 5, 2015 Brooks scored in a friendly against the Netherlands in Amsterdam as the United States fought back from a 1–3 deficit to win 4–3, their first victory against the Dutch.

4) I cannot tell a lie - he's the greatest ever

The Ghana game also saw Brooks become the first American substitute to score a goal in 84 years of World Cup history, and his Wikipedia page was soon edited by fans, who described him, rather cheekily, as "the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln."

5) Born in the U.S.A.?

Keep it on the down-low if you ever run into Bruce Springsteen, but Brooks has never actually lived in the United States, and, like his current USMNT teammates Fabian Johnson and Jermaine Jones, actually represented Germany at youth level. That familiarity with German football has helped him blossom into a feared Bundesliga defender, though.

6) Footballing friendships

The Berlin native maintains a strong friendship with his fellow international teammates DeAndre Yedlin and Hamburg’s Bobby Wood. That friendship was put to the test earlier this season when Brooks came up against Wood on Matchday 23. The defender seemingly won the battle against his international teammate by preventing him from scoring, but Wood’s HSV won the war by claiming a 1-0 victory.

7) Big name birthday boys

Born January 28, 1993, Brooks shares his birthday with some illustrious names from the sporting world and beyond. Former Liverpool and England defender Jamie Carragher was born 15 years to the day earlier and would serve as a defensive role model for any young footballer. Also 15 years Brooks’ senior, Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon is the perfect example of longevity for the new Wolfsburg defender.

Across the Atlantic, Brooks also shares a birthday with Golden State Warriors shooting guard Andre Iguodala. There are not many people the 6 ft 4 in Brooks can look up to in the world, but the 6 ft 6 in Olympic gold medallist falls into that category.

Away from the world of sport, actor Elijah Wood is another illustrious name to share a birthday with Brooks. Will Brooks protect the Wolfsburg goal as well as Wood’s Frodo Baggins did the One Ring? We’ll find out next season…

8) Bundesliga Team of the Season candidate

Brooks’ excellent form at the heart of the Hertha defence as they qualified for the Europa League saw him named one of six candidates for centre-back in the Bundesliga Team of the Season. Up against stiff competition, he lost out to Mats Hummels, but his 29 per cent of the vote saw him finish well ahead of fellow contender Jesus Vallejo.

9) US pedigree

Brooks is following in some illustrious Red, White and Blue footsteps in the Bundesliga. One of 49 Americans to ply their trade in the German top flight, the 24-year-old is already sixth on the list of all-time US appearance holders in the Bundesliga, ahead of compatriots such as Kasey Keller, Eric Wynalda and Christian Pulisic. Brooks’ 90 appearances still leave him a long way off Jermaine Jones (165) in fifth, but a move within the Bundesliga means he stands a good chance of climbing the rankings.

Equally impressive for the centre-back is that he also stands eighth in terms of US goalscorers in the Bundesliga on six – one ahead of Bobby Wood, which Brooks no doubt reminds his good friend about on a regular basis.

10) #WallofBrooks

Although Brooks was not yet born when the Berlin Wall fell, the centre-back took on the moniker “Wall of Brooks” during his time with Hertha. The imposing Brooks was often an impenetrable line of defence at the Olympiastadion, and running into him presumably felt akin to ploughing head-first into a wall.

How will the Wall of Brooks stand the move 230 kilometres west across Germany to the Automobile City? Could it soon be the "Wall of Wolfsburg" stopping Bundesliga forwards in their tracks?

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