Mesut Özil won the 2014 FIFA World Cup with Germany, but not before enjoying formative stints at Schalke and Werder Bremen. Who else has represented the two German powerhouses down the years? bundesliga.com finds out...
Gelsenkirchen-born Özil was part of the Schalke youth team that won the U19s Bundesliga in 2005/06, the same season he made his professional debut. The graceful playmaker got his first taste of the UEFA Champions League with the Royal Blues, before switching to Bremen in January 2008. He lifted the DFB Cup and took home a UEFA Cup runners-up medal in his debut half-season along the banks of the Weser river, and earned his first Germany cap the following year, before lifting further silverware for club (Real Madrid and Arsenal) and country. The 92-time international, 33, currently plies his trade in the Turkish SüperLig with Fenerbahce.
Watch: Mesut Özil is a product of Schalke's vaunted youth academy
Bremen (26 matches, 1998-1999)
Schalke (79 matches, 2009-2011)
Felix Magath came up against Özil during his spell as Schalke head coach. Already a Bundesliga winner as a player with Hamburg and at the helm of Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, the no-nonsense tactician steered the Royal Blues to a runners-up finish and within six points of a maiden league crown in 2009/10. A run to the Champions League last 16 followed, but wasn't enough to keep the ex-Stuttgart strategist in a job beyond March 2011. It was, nevertheless, an improvement on his relegation-embattled tenure at Bremen in the late 90s. He stepped away from coaching in 2020, following a second stint with Wolfsburg, and spells with English club Fulham and China's Shandong Luneng Taishan.
Bremen (254 apps, 2005-2012)
Schalke (80 apps, 2016-2019)
Naldo crossed paths with Magath at Wolfsburg, and played in the same Bremen team as Özil. The Brazilian was something of a cult figure wherever he went, known as much for his defensive prowess as his ability to do the business in the attacking third. It was his trademark free-kick that forced extra-time in Werder's eventual UEFA Cup final defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk. He later used his head to rescue Schalke a point in the Mother of all Revierderbies against Borussia Dortmund - a 4-4 draw from 4-0 down at half-time. With 358 Bundesliga appearances under his belt - not forgetting some 40 goals - the now retired centre-back racked up more German top-flight games than any Brazilian.
Bremen (214 apps, 1998-2004)
Schalke (44 apps, 2004-2005)
Speaking of Samba-schooled terrace favourites, Ailton lit up the Weser Stadion during a six-season stay in Bremen. The Brazilian scored 88 of his 106 Bundesliga goals for the Green-Whites, capping his final campaign at the northern club with a raft of honours. His league-leading 28 strikes propelled Werder to the Bundesliga title; he also produced a joint-competition best five as Werder completed the domestic double in the 2003/04 DFB Cup. He left for the Veltins-Arena as the first foreign-born player to be named Germany's Footballer of the Year. With a further 14 efforts in a Schalke shirt, he ranks as one of only six non-German nationals to post at least 100 Bundesliga goals.
Watch: Ailton was the star of the 2003/04 Bundesliga season (audio in German)
Keeping goals out was the name of the game for Frank Rost. The former Germany international recorded 121 clean sheets in 426 appearances, including 33 for Bremen and 41 between the Schalke posts. He turned out just 17 times in the Bundesliga across his first six seasons with Werder, getting his belated breakthrough when Oliver Reck left for Schalke in 1998. A Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Supercup winner at Bremen, the 6'4" custodian succeeded Reck in Gelsenkirchen in 2002, where he remained No.1 until the emergence of a certain Manuel Neuer in 2006.
Also represented Bremen and Schalke
Franco Di Santo