Five years after arriving very much as a boy, having left his family, friends and the only world he knew behind, Christian Pulisic will leave Borussia Dortmund as a man both on and off the pitch.
Some 1,178 days after stepping out onto the hallowed turf of Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park stadium for the first time, Pulisic will play his final game in front of the 'Yellow Wall' as a Dortmund player, bringing to an end the best time of the American’s life so far.
"I can still remember when a teacher at school asked me what I wanted to do," Pulisic tells Dortmund-based agency Ruhr Nachrichten. "I was 13 or 14. I said that I wanted to be a professional footballer. She said that chances were very slim for that to happen. I answered by saying that I’d come back in seven or eight years, and we’ll talk again then. I’m excited to do that; I definitely want to do it (laughs)."
It’s easy to overlook just how big a risk and sacrifice Pulisic took in moving to Dortmund. His dream of becoming a footballer was immediately recognised by BVB, though, and the club quickly became the ideal place for the young American to best learn how to realise his ultimate goal of becoming a professional footballer.
"That was the most difficult moment of my life," said Pulisic. "I had to leave my family, my friends. I couldn’t speak the language at all. All that I brought with me to Germany, was a dream."
He is still living the dream five years on. The American kid with aspirations to play soccer professionally has blossomed into one of the brightest talents in the Bundesliga and is a fully fledged USA international. From his first coach, Hannes Wolf, to Jürgen Klopp, Thomas Tuchel and the rest, Pulisic says he owes Dortmund everything.
Watch: Pulisic's solo stunner vs. Bremen might be his best for BVB!
"I’ve always been given huge support here," Pulisic explained. "It all started with the coaches. First Hannes Wolf, who always helped me. Then Jürgen Klopp, who was always very caring. Just like all the coaches in the first team. My teammates all took me on board as well. It always gave me such a good feeling."
And because of that bond that has developed between Pulisic and Dortmund, his goodbye on Saturday will not be an easy one.
"It will hit me, at the latest, when we reach the stadium," revealed Pulisic, discussing his emotions before Dortmund’s final home game of the 2018/19 season against Fortuna Düsseldorf.
"Then, I think, there will be quite a lot of emotions involved. That won’t be easy at all. It’s the best stadium I’ve ever played in. I’m going to miss that atmosphere. It’s hard for me to explain. Even when I see the Südtribüne today I just think 'how crazy is that', they are just amazing.
"Most of all, though, I’ll miss the people in Dortmund. It was the best five years of my life."