Gregor Kobel: Who is Borussia Dortmund's colossal custodian?
An immense presence in the German top-flight and pulling off world-class saves in continental competition, Gregor Kobel is fast becoming one of the best custodians around. bundesliga.com has the lowdown on Borussia Dortmund's formidable goalkeeper…
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: Switzerland (four caps)
Kobel played youth football for Grasshopper Club Zurich, but earned his senior breakthrough in Germany. The 6'4" goalkeeper joined Hoffenheim at just 16, signing pro terms three years later. He made 22 U19s, 43 reserve and six senior appearances for Die Kraichgauer between August 2014 and January 2019, keeping a clean sheet on his first-team debut in the 2017/18 DFB Cup first round.
Following a successful six-month loan to Bundesliga rivals Augsburg, where he earned 16 consecutive starts during the 2018/19 Rückrunde, the Switzerland international was snapped up by relegated Stuttgart. Kobel recorded 10 shut-outs in 31 league appearances as Stuttgart roared back to the big time as Bundesliga 2 runners-up in 2019/20.
The three-time German top-flight winners duly kitted him out with a permanent contract through to 30 June 2024, with their faith in Oliver Baumann's former Hoffenheim understudy proving fully vindicated. The naturally right-footed Kobel has played all but one of VfB's Bundesliga games in 2020/21, keeping five clean sheets whilst saving two of six penalties faced. With Kobel ranking eighth league-wide for shots saved, on 67 per cent that season, Dortmund had all the information they needed and swooped to sign the keeper in summer 2021.
Kobel kept nine clean sheets across 39 appearances in all competitions for BVB in 2021/22 - the season in which he made his senior Switzerland bow - helping the Black-and-Yellows to second place in the Bundesliga standings. The Zürich native's commanding performances have continued into the current campaign, with Kobel playing an integral role as Dortmund achieved their best start to a calendar year since 2011/12.
Plays a bit like: Yann Sommer
Recent Bayern Munich acquisition Sommer has often been praised for pulling off a string of stunning saves just when his teams have needed it the most. Kobel is proving just as adept at those agile, camera-clicking moments as his Swiss compatriot. The BVB man's quick-feet, ability to get down in the blink of an eye and strength in one on ones also help to draw to comparisons with Switzerland-legend Sommer.
Did you know?
Kobel has his father partly to thank for his all-round athleticism.
Peter Kobel earned his keep as a professional ice hockey player and - despite "proudly encouraging Gregor to move to the Hoffenheim academy" - admits it took him a while to get his head around his son’s career choice.
"He was hell-bent on playing football and becoming a goalkeeper," Kobel senior recalled. "As an ice hockey forward, that made no sense to me!"
What they're saying
"I've had some very good games but there are definitely things I can do better. We've made up a lot of ground in the last couple of matches and we're back at the top." - Kobel speaking to DAZN on his 2022/23 season so far.
"The basic rule is: wait a long time and try to force him to make a decision." - Kobel gives a little insight on facing some of the world's best striker's in one-v-one situations.
"We know one thing for sure: whenever the going gets tough, we can count on Gregor Kobel." - BVB coach Edin Terzic praises his goalkeeper following Dortmund's Champions League, first-leg win against Chelsea.
"As well as being a real talent, he’s mentally strong, inquisitive and willing to learn." - Kobel’s former goalkeeper coach at Hoffenheim, Michael Rechner
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