Christian Pulisic waved an emotional goodbye to Borussia Dortmund in May 2018, after five years with the Bundesliga club. - © DFL
Christian Pulisic waved an emotional goodbye to Borussia Dortmund in May 2018, after five years with the Bundesliga club. - © DFL

Christian Pulisic: "I'll never forget my first call up to the Borussia Dortmund first team"

It has been almost a year since Christian Pulisic played his final game for Borussia Dortmund before permanently joining English Premier League side Chelsea. But after five years growing up with the Bundesliga club, the USMNT captain will always regard BVB as his family.

Pulisic made his debut for Dortmund in January 2016, at the age 17 years, 4 months and 12 days old becoming the third-youngest player in the club's history at the time – recently made fourth by fellow countryman Gio Reyna.

But the now-21-year-old recalls that he actually trained with the first team for over six months before he made his debut, and the moment he was first told that he would be training with Jürgen Klopp's squad at the time is one he will never forget.

Watch: Christian Pulisic - Made in the Bundesliga

"I started in the youth teams over there and I was just working hard for that one opportunity I could get," Pulisic recalled on former Schalke and USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones' 13 and Me podcast. "I was going to German school over there and I'll never forget the one day I was in class and I looked at my phone quickly and it was a text from my youth coach saying, 'you're training with the first team tonight'.

"The rest of the school day I wasn't even paying attention, I couldn't think of anything else. I'm getting ready, I'm going to training and it was just unreal – I was 16 years old, and I'm going into the warm-up and there are huge names there. Aubameyang, Marco Reus, Mats Hummels who were just in the Champions League final the year before and I'm just a 16-year-old kid. I was just thinking 'alright, go in and just do your best'. I was just excited and thankful for Jürgen Klopp, he gave me that opportunity and I'll take that with me forever."

Pulisic's rise was meteoric from that point on. His first full season in the first team saw him make 29 appearances in the Bundesliga, as well as 10 in the UEFA Champions League – becoming the youngest Dortmund player to score in the competition against Benfica in March 2017.

Jürgen Klopp (l.) called Christian Pulisic (r.) up to train with the Borussia Dortmund first team when the American was only 16. - imago

The Hershey, Pennsylvania native continued to climb up the pecking order and would make 32 league appearances in 2017/18 at the age of just 19. And in his final season, 2018/19, Pulisic signed for Chelsea during the January transfer window but moved back to Dortmund on loan for the remainder of the campaign.

It gave the industrious winger a chance to say goodbye to the BVB fans who had been alongside him every step of the way on his journey thus far.

"People might not know unless you've been to one of those stadiums but the likes of Dortmund, Schalke, those stadiums, the fans, the passion there is incredible," Pulisic said. "So, you grow with it and it starts to feel like a family to you and you get so attached to the club and so attached to everything over there.

Watch: Pulisic's emotional Dortmund goodbye

"So, when the day finally came and it was my last game, saying goodbye to them was tough. Because they're there every game, screaming, supporting us. It was like my home. I was there for five years; I grew up there into an adult and broke into the first team. So, saying goodbye is never easy."

Now the USMNT captain is finding his way in England with Chelsea, and the future looks bright for Pulisic both for club and country. But no matter what happens, he will never forget where he came from and the people at Dortmund who helped to make him the player and person he is today.

"If you had told me when I was 15 that I'd have been in the Dortmund first team and playing for the national team in two years, I wouldn't have believed you," Pulisic said. "I was given so many opportunities by amazing coaches. Tuchel, especially, at Dortmund and obviously Jürgen. I'll always be grateful."