A man who needs little introduction: Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho - © 2018 DFL
A man who needs little introduction: Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho - © 2018 DFL

Jadon Sancho: 10 things on the Borussia Dortmund and England record-breaker


He is the English footballer who has taken the world by storm, but what else do you know about Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho?

Allow bundesliga.com to fill in the gaps with 10 career nuggets on one of the most electrifying young players in the game.

1) Street life

Sancho is one of an endangered species of footballers who learned, developed and honed their skills playing on the streets and in back alleys. Born and raised in the Kennington suburb of London, there was nowhere else to kick a ball about – but that would not temper his desire.

"After school, I just wanted to play football. All around me, there were people who did bad things, but I never wanted to deal with them," he said. Sancho has his head screwed on and admits it would have been easy to slip into less savoury surroundings. "What might have happened if I hadn't [focused on football] is with me all the time," he told the BBC.

Heard the one about the lad who left the streets of London to become a Bundesliga superstar? - 2018 Getty Images

2) The Watford gap

Sancho's great dribbling ability and goalscoring prowess first came to light at Watford, the club he joined as a seven-year-old. Chelsea and Arsenal were two clubs who quickly came knocking, but found the door locked until Sancho turned 14. That is when Manchester City were able to convince him to turn his back on the capital and move north.

"He had this flair, creativity and imagination and a bit of street football within him," said Mark Burton, City's youth phase coordinator to The Mirror.

"Sometimes he goes off the cuff. What we gave him was a bit of discipline within his play but without hopefully killing his flair. We surrounded him with better players that pushed him and put him in an environment that probably got him closer to seeing what professional football looked like."

3) A column with Nelson

Before representing his country, Sancho was named in Southwark's London Youth Games Under-11 team by Sayce Holmes-Lewis – together with his childhood friend Reiss Nelson. They won the tournament in 2011 and left a big impression, not only on their coach.

"When I saw Jadon and Reiss I thought 'these boys are mad.' Jadon was just making people look stupid. The nutmegs, the skills. Some were outrageous," he told The Mirror.

"Jadon and Reiss were both phenomenal players. You knew they would go into the professional game. They were different from anything out there and had this ability to manipulate the ball at a young age. At times, because of their friendship, it was telepathic between them on the pitch. Jadon was fearless on the pitch when he was in his groove. Growing up in that area of Southwark you had to have something about you to be able to play."

Jadon Sancho (l.) and Hoffenheim's Reiss Nelson (r.) have emerged together of England's brightest talents. - DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga

4) Ambition, drive and determination

Sancho was not like the other boys in Watford's academy. At the age of 12, he left his family home in south London – and a daily four-hour commute – to board in the club's Harefield Academy in Uxbridge, where his only thought was football.

Louis Lancaster, his coach in Watford's academy, recalled: "Jadon was someone who needed to be challenged. Some boys are scared of moving up a year, but he embraced it. That was one thing that separated him from the others. As a coach you can measure how many passes they make, how many shots they take, how far they run, but it's the immeasurable qualities that make the difference."

Sancho had that drive, determination and ambition even at such an early age. "I asked him, 'What's the dream?'" Lancaster told Sky Sports. "He looked me in the eye and said he wanted to play for one of Europe's top clubs and represent his country to make his family proud." He achieved both when he was still just 18.

After winning the U17 World Cup, Sancho soon found himself making his senior England debut. - 2018 Getty Images

5) Opportunity knocks

Tired of seeing a route to first-team football barred at City, Sancho sought his opportunity in the Bundesliga, where clubs are less resistant to blooding young talent.

"I'm very glad that I decided to change to Dortmund […] because everything turned out to be true: this city lives football like no other, and at BVB young players are given playing time," Sancho told the club's website. "Here I can develop excellently. I am completely happy, satisfied and proud to be part of this team."

6) World Cup winner in absentia

Sancho was included in England's squad for the U17 World Cup in India in 2017, although the timing of the tournament was not ideal for Dortmund.

A compromise was struck which saw Sancho released by the Bundesliga club for the group stage. He helped the Young Lions reach the last 16 with three goals and two assists before returning to Germany, where he made his Bundesliga debut just days later.

A winner's medal was nevertheless posted to Sancho as England went all the way while Sancho stepped up his senior career in Germany.

"He's flamboyant, entertaining to watch," said Dan Micchiche, who worked with Jadon Sancho at U15 and U16 level. - 2018 DFL

7) Seventh heaven

Sancho was given the number seven shirt by Dortmund – a number previously worn by the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Stefan Reuter, Andreas Möller, Ousmane Dembele and Michael Zorc. Did it faze him? Of course not!

"I would have taken any number but getting seven was a big boost to my confidence. It is about coming here and proving myself. That is why I am here," he told the BBC. "To play for the first team, in front of the yellow wall, is a dream come true."

Seventh heaven, one might say.

8) Neymar or Dembele? Sancho!

That Sancho has a lot going for him is not lost on anybody, and it is common for talented young players to be likened to some of their peers. In Sancho's case, the names Neymar and Ousmane Dembele have been mentioned in the same breath.

Dan Micciche, who worked with him at U15 and U16 level with England, drew the Neymar comparison when he said: "provided he doesn't become restricted he could be our Neymar-type player - in terms of being unpredictable, playing on that left-hand side. He's flamboyant, entertaining to watch. But like Neymar, he's effective with it. In most games he'll create something."

Meanwhile, it was Dortmund's very own sporting director Michael Zorc who coined the Dembele connection. "He's brutally good, he can do things I have rarely seen," he said. "Even though he's a different player type, he reminds me of Ousmane Dembele."

Sancho has been a regular for Dortmund since breaking into the first-team frame in 2018. - Getty Images/Patrik Stollarz/AFP

9) US Tour: before and after

It was just hours before City departed for a tour of the USA in 2017 that Sancho made up his mind that he needed a new challenge. Rather than boarding that plane to the States, he informed their manager Pep Guardiola that he would not be signing a new deal with them. He instead trained in Manchester with the youth team he had belonged to up to then and turned down the chance to be aggregated to the first team upon their return.

"In the last two or three weeks he didn't appear in the training sessions. He should come but he didn't," said Guardiola. ""We tried a lot. We met the father and his manager but if the player says 'no, no, no, no, no', what can we do?"

One year later, Sancho did go Stateside, albeit in a Black and Yellow jersey, and he faced City in a friendly. "I had a point to prove and I think I did well," he said after BVB's 1-0 win in Chicago.

10) Move over Messi

Sancho's start to the 2018/19 season put many of the world's top players in the shadows, including multi-Ballon d'Or winners Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Indeed, come the end of September – and before he had even started a game – Sancho already had five assists to his name. That was one more than Messi and Ronaldo and enough to convinced England manager Gareth Southgate to take a closer look at the revelation, handing him his first senior cap in the UEFA Nations League clash with Croatia in October.

Scoring twice against Hertha Berlin in October, Sancho also became the first player born in the 2000s to net a Bundesliga brace, the youngest player to do so for Dortmund and the eighth-youngest to achieve the feat in the Bundesliga's 55-year history.

To this day, he is the youngest Englishman to score in the Bundesliga and the youngest English player to make his UEFA Champions League bow for a foreign club in the competition's history. Oh, and by the end of the 2018/19 season he finished as the Bundesliga's top assist provider with 14. The future certainly looks bright for Dortmund's Sancho sensation.