Cologne - One of the rising stars of the Bundesliga, Leroy Sane has been in fine form for FC Schalke 04 this season. The Royal Blues are hoping that the 19 year old will be the next superstar to emerge from their impressive youth set-up.
Born in 1996, Sane grew up just a stone's throw from the Lorheidestadion in Wattenscheid. His father was former Bundesliga star Soulemayne “Samy” Sane, who played, among others, for SC Freiburg 1. FC Nürnberg and made 55 appearances for the Senegal national team.
Young Leroy was practically predestined to pursue a career in football. After four years at local club SG Wattenscheid 09, Sane joined the youth set-up at Schalke at the age of just nine. After three years, he had a brief spell at Bayer 04 Leverkusen's academy.
Chance in the first team
Sane returned to Schalke in 2011, where he slowly began to prove himself as a budding star of the future. After a superb season under Norbert in 2013/14, the youngster found himself in the running for a spot in Schalke's first team.
When injuries hit Roberto Di Matteo's team in the spring of 2014, Sane was thrown head first into top level football. He made an immediate impression, putting in a glistening performance against VfB Stuttgart and scoring a memorable goal in Schalke's 4-3 away victory over Real Madrid in the Champions League.
His exploits earned him the first mini title of his career, as his colleagues voted him as “Bundesliga Newcomer of the Year 2014/15”. Considering Sane had made only a handful of appearances, the award was testament to the immediate impression he had made with his talent.
This season, Sane's progress has barely stopped for breath. New Schalke coach Andre Breitenreiter has put a lot of focus on the squad's young talent. Alongside the likes of Max Meyer, Sane has been at the heart of the new philosophy, and is fast developing into one of the best attacking midfielders in the Bundesliga.
Progress this season
His three goals in three games between Matchdays 5 and 7 are proof enough of the impact the 19 year old has made this season. But throughout the season so far, Sane has been superb, his mazy runs and tactical intelligence proving an invaluable element of Schalke's arsenal.
According to his father, Sane's heroes are the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, players “who score dream goals and make dream passes”. But the youngster is determined to keep his feet on the ground.
“I'm only just making my first steps into professional football”, he said, “The next steps are still to be taken”.
Those next steps look promising for a young player whose maturity seems even as remarkable as his talent. After the likes of Manuel Neuer, Julian Draxler and Max Meyer, Schalke fans are already dreaming of their next homegrown superstar.