Following Hoffenheim's pyrotechnic 5-3 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach on 15 April 2016, Kerem Demirbay said he "became a footballer for days like these".

"It's what it's all about," he told bundesliga.com. "Games like these are just amazing." In terms of the passion and emotion which characterised that victory, which included two goals from the 23-year-old, it could be the highlight of a footballer's career, even more so when that footballer has climbed his way up from the amateur leagues to the very top.

In 2015/16, Demirbay finished 14th in Bundesliga 2 with Fortuna Düsseldorf, his ten goals making up almost a third of their total as relegation was avoided by just three points. A year before, he only narrowly missed out on promotion to the Bundesliga with Kaiserslautern after having already graced Germany's greatest stage three times with Hamburg. There, he was primarily involved in the club's reserve team, gaining his stripes with three goals in five fourth-division appearances only a few years ago, in 2014/15.

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It was a case of going one step back to take several forward for a player who appeared destined for fame and fortune when he joined Borussia Dortmund's youth academy from Wattenscheid in 2011. BVB were not keen to see him leave again two years later with their coach at the time Jürgen Klopp telling the young attacking midfielder of his bright prospects. Demirbay nevertheless had his own plan, and that came to fruition when he made history with Hoffenheim in 2016/17.

His late goal earned the Sinsheim side the point they needed against Cologne in April to secure European football for the first time in the club's history. In 2017/18, Demirbay is going to get even more of that spine-tingling passion and emotion which "sets football apart" with Champions League football now on its way to the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

Watch: Demirbay reflects on historic Hoffenheim goal:

After going four years without an international appearance since playing in two friendlies for Turkey's under-21s, not only is Demirbay now certain of European football next season, but he has already begun to shine on the global stage for Joachim Löw's Germany.

Demirbay made his first appearance for Die Mannschaft as a substitute in a friendly against Denmark in early June 2017. Just a few weeks later he truly announced his arrival on the international stage with his maiden international goal on his first start for his country - a now trademark thumping effort from outside the box as Germany beat Cameroon 3-1 at the Confederations Cup.

Demirbay opened his account for Germany on his first start against Cameroon in Russia in June 2017.
Demirbay opened his account for Germany on his first start against Cameroon in Russia in June 2017.

After making his mark on both the domestic and international scene, the former fourth division player now has European football to feast his eyes on for next season.

"It is for any coach or player a dream to play in the Champions League," said Hoffenheim's 29-year-old coach Julian Nagelsmann. "That is no different for us and we too dream of hearing the anthem."

That dream will soon become reality for Demirbay, whose two-year rise from the fourth division to scoring for his country and playing in Europe is the stuff of legends.

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