Those predicting doom and gloom for Hoffenheim following the defections of Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy to Bayern Munich in the summer are being forced to eat their words – by a 19-year-old whose name translates as the violinist.
Dennis Geiger has latched on to the legacy left by two seemingly irreplaceable stars of Hoffenheim's extraordinary rise from the relegation zone to UEFA Champions League qualification, as another gem emerges from the Sinsheim-based club's production line.
Dennis Geiger has scored his 1st ever professional goal for @tsg1899hoffenheim as they lead @s04 1-0 👏 @dennisg98 Swipe left 👈 #TSG #TSG1899 #Hoffenheim #S04 #Schalke #Schalke04 #Gelsenkirchen #veltinsarena #königsblau#Bundesliga #Football #Soccer #Germany #fussball #futbol #goals #lovefootball #thebeautifulgame
For 45 minutes against Schalke on Saturday, he could not put a foot wrong. Only one of Geiger's passes failed to find its intended target and, to top it off, his second shot on goal in Bundesliga football had the net rippling, and Hoffenheim on course to rise above Bayern – the team they beat on Matchday 3.
"I've known him a while already and coached him in the youth team," said coach Julian Nagelsmann, whose apparent gamble in giving Geiger his Bundesliga debut this season has looked more like a calculated risk which has added up nicely. "He's an extraordinarily good footballer and I'm delighted for him. You could see the emotions flooding out after his goal."
Nagelsmann got to know Geiger, who joined Hoffenheim's youth academy when he was just 11, when he was in charge of the Baden-Württemberg club's under-19s. It was the confident, almost cocky central midfielder's performances which had a major influence on Hoffenheim winning the South/Southwest under-19 championship for a third year running in 2016.
Nagelsmann did not forget Geiger when he was promoted to the head coach position, however, and after securing the club's Bundesliga status after his first few months in charge, he gave the then 18-year-old his first opportunity to train with the first team. One year on and now Geiger is not only training with the first team, he is an integral part of it.
"He's comfortable on the ball and has the necessary aggression, and he's not afraid of making tactical fouls either," said Nagelsmann after his side's Matchday 6 victory over the Royal Blues. "For a 19-year-old, he's a really cool customer."
That has already been recognised at international level, with Geiger captaining Germany's under-19s at the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Georgia this summer. It was an ill-fated campaign for Germany, but already you could see how confident the diminutive midfielder was – not just in assuming responsibility, but boasting an already mature tactical understanding which belies his age.
"He's an extraordinary talent and we want to build him up constantly and carefully," commented Hoffenheim's director of football Alexander Rosen following Geiger's promotion to the first team a year ago. "That's proven successful for us in the recent past."
It looks like another success story is already in the making.
"Dennis is a great lad," said Hoffenheim goalkeeper Oliver Baumann. "He's come on leaps and bounds over the past year and has such outstanding composure for his age."
The composure of a violinist, whose Sinsheim symphonies are earning acclaim.