Borussia Dortmund and USA teenager Gio Reyna is the youngest American national to play in the Bundesliga, but where does the 17-year-old super talent sit among the German top flight’s all-time list of fresh-faced debutants? bundesliga.com reveals the top 10…
1) Nuri Sahin
Age on debut: 16 years, 11 months and one day
A Dortmund youth product, Sahin made his full debut at the base of a midfield including Thomas Rosicky, playing the full 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Wolfsburg on 6 August 2005. A first goal followed - against Nuremberg - on his seventh outing. He also chipped in with six assists in his maiden top-flight campaign. The Turkey international spent a formative stint on loan in the Netherlands with Feyenoord in 2007/08 and moved to Real Madrid in summer 2011, but between times produced a career-best six goals - including a belting free-kick against Bayern Munich - and eight assists during BVB’s 2010/11 title-winning campaign under Jürgen Klopp. Sahin was unable to muscle his way in at Real and struggled for form and fitness whilst on loan at Liverpool, but a return to Dortmund had the desired effect. He added the 2016/17 DFB Cup to his collection in his penultimate campaign at the club, only to fall down the pecking order under Lucien Favre the next year. The 31-year-old left-footer is currently enjoying his second season at Werder Bremen.
Watch: The Nuri Sahin story!
2) Yann Bisseck
Age on debut: 16 years, 11 months and 28 days
What does Sahin have in common with Yann Bisseck apart from a place in our big top 10 youngest debutants reveal? Both played under Peter Stöger - just not in the same team. Before coaxing the best out of and older-wiser Sahin at Dortmund, Stöger handed Bisseck his Bundesliga debut for Cologne. The Austrian played the teenager from the off in a 2-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin in November 2017, only to be sacked a week later on the back of another defeat to Schalke. Bisseck started that encounter, but a second-half cameo in a 4-3 loss to Freiburg under Stöger’s successor, Stefan Ruthenbeck, was the last Bundesliga audiences would see of the Germany youth international. He featured for the Cologne U19s and reserve teams before moving, via a loan stint at Holstein Kiel - and ANOTHER three competitive outings - to Roda JC of the Netherlands in summer 2019. The Germany U19 international is still awaiting his senior debut for his current employers, but did make the bench in a defeat to Heerenveen in the Dutch Cup and enjoys regular football for the club’s U21 outfit.
3) Florian Wirtz
Age on debut: 17 years, 15 days
What a whirlwind few months it's been for Wirtz. In the first half of the 2019/20 season he was playing for Cologne's U17 team in the U17 Bundesliga West. His impressive displays there earned him a transfer to local rivals Bayer Leverkusen, where he was immediately bumped up two age categories to the U19s. After posting two goals and three assists in four games prior to the coronavirus-enforced break in play, he began training with the first team after head coach Peter Bosz liked what he saw: “If he’s training with us then he has to be a good player. I rate him very highly. He’s a very good player, absolutely.” So much so that the Dutch tactician handed him his starting debut in Leverkusen's Matchday 26 clash with Werder Bremen.
4) Jürgen Friedl
Age on debut: 17 years and 26 days
Like Bisseck, Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Jürgen Friedl turned out just three times in the Bundesliga. Like Bisseck, a clean sheet proved elusive. Friedl conceded the only goal of a 5-1 win against Hannover after making making his debut as a 74th-minute replacement for Wolfgang Kleff; was beaten twice on his first and only full Bundesliga start on Matchday 31 of the 1975/76 campaign - a 3-2 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf; and was given the half-time hook in a season-ending victory at home to Dortmund. The Frankfurt native moved on to see out the bulk of his playing career in the backwaters of German football, representing Heinsberg and Bad Vibel before hanging up his gloves in summer 1990.
5) Ibrahim Tanko
Age on debut: 17 years and two months
Ibrahim Tanko accumulated a fair share more than three Bundesliga appearances for Dortmund after making his bow against VfB Stuttgart in September 1994. The Ghanaian was only a bit-part player at best, scoring three goals in 52 top-flight games across six-and-a-half seasons as a BVB player, but still picked up two Bundesliga winner’s medals and was part of the all-conquering ensemble that lifted the 1997 UEFA Champions League. He later spent six years with Freiburg, producing eight goals and as many assists in 122 outings in Germany’s top two divisions for the Black Forest dwellers.
6) Gio Reyna
Age on debut: 17 years, two months and six days
Unlike Tanko, Reyna could be for keeps. The 17-year-old hadn’t long been promoted to the Dortmund first team when he came off the bench as a a 72nd-minute substitute for Thorgan Hazard in Augsburg on Matchday 18 of the 2019/20 campaign. The former New York City FC academy product had a big hand in one of BVB’s five second-half goals, playing the pass before the pass that enabled Erling Haaland to complete his hat-trick to cap a whirlwind outing that means the US youth international ranks as the youngest American debutant in Bundesliga history, and fifth youngest to pull on a famous black-and-yellow shirt in competitive fare. Needless to say there’s every probability he’ll usurp countryman and Dortmund alumni Christian Pulisic as the greenest non-German to score in the Bundesliga and on the international stage. Watch this space!
7) Josha Vagnoman
Age on debut: 17 years, two months and 27 days
While Reyna was born in Sunderland, England, raised in the US and is presently cooking up a storm in Dortmund, Josha Vagnoman has shown himself to be more of a home bird. The Port City kid climbed the youth ranks of Hamburg, before being thrown in at the deep end one fateful Saturday afternoon at Bayern’s Allianz Arena in March 2018. Through no fault of his own, the teenaged defender was given a chastening introduction to life at the highest level as HSV crashed to an 8-0 defeat - one of 23 on their way to losing their proud status as the only founding Bundesliga member never to be relegated. The right-back appeared only fleetingly in 2018/19, but was enjoying a good run in side the following Bundesliga 2 campaign before seeing his progress checked by a foot fracture.
8) Simon Asta
Age on debut: 17 years, three months and 17 days
Simon Asta also saw in the start of 2020 in the treatment room. The Augsburg prospect ruptured knee ligaments whilst in action for the U19s, little over 18 months after breathing Bundesliga air for the first time as a player when he entered the fray at the expense of Jan Moravek late in a 2-0 loss to Freiburg on Matchday 34 of the 2017/18 campaign. It wasn’t until the final day of 2018/19 that he had the opportunity to do so again on his first senior league start. A bitter-sweet occasion, Augsburg were thumped 8-1 by Wolfsburg.
Age on debut: 17 years, three months and 22 days
Beier came on for his debut late on in the 1-0 defeat at Freiburg on Matchday 21 of the 2019/20 season. Aged 17 years and 114 days at the time, the Germany U17 international replaced current Bayern defender Niklas Süle as the youngest player ever to play for the Sinsheim club. The promising forward – freescoring at youth level – is the latest in a long of line of players to come through the Hoffenheim academy. As well as Süle, Beier is also following in the footsteps of current teammate Dennis Geiger and Bayer Leverkusen and Germany attacking midfielder Nadiem Amiri.
Watch: Julian Draxler, made in the Bundesliga
10) Julian Draxler
Age on debut: 17 years, three months and 26 days
Julian Draxler has played his part in some heavy defeats down the years, though more often than not he has been the one inflicting the damage. Following in the footsteps of fellow Schalke talent mine graduates Mesut Özil and Manuel Neuer, Draxler made such an impression as a late substitute on his debut in a 1-0 loss to Hannover that then coach Felix Magath unleashed him on the starting line-up at the next available opportunity. 'Bubi' scored his first of 18 Bundesliga goals for Schalke later that season, and was on target in Schalke’s DFB Cup final drubbing over Duisburg. Long a first-team regular, he netted a single-season career-best 10 goals in 2012/13, before lifting the FIFA World Cup with Germany the following year. Draxler went on to spend two seasons at Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg (2015 - 2017) and, after captaining Germany to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, moved to Paris Saint-Germain in France, where he has since become a two-time Ligue 1, French Cup and French League Cup champion.