At the tender age of 19, Borussia Dortmund winger Jadon Sancho has already made more headlines and racked up more achievements than some footballers manage in an entire career, and the England international's phenomenal progress shows no signs of letting up.
To celebrate him reaching 50 Bundesliga appearances for BVB, bundesliga.com has compiled a list of key dates on Sancho's relatively short but seriously impressive CV…
2011 – Wins London Youth Games U11 tournament with Reiss Nelson
Many years before they had even dreamed of strutting their stuff in the Bundesliga, Sancho and Hoffenheim's Arsenal loanee Reiss Nelson were showcasing their silky skills as boys, helping Team Southwark to win the U11 tournament at the London Youth Games. Even among 71,000 participants at Europe's largest annual youth sports event, the twinkle-toed pair stood out.
"Jadon and Reiss were both phenomenal players," coach Sayce Holmes-Lewis recalled in the Daily Mail. "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."
Sancho and Nelson have not had the opportunity to play together at senior club level – a scary thought for Bundesliga defenders – but even in their pre-teen years the future England youth teammates were already cultivating a winning mentality.
31 August 2017 – Joins Borussia Dortmund from Manchester City
After two years in the Manchester City youth ranks, Sancho made the bold choice of turning his back on Pep Guardiola and the English Premier League – or perhaps the prospect of warming a Premier League bench – to try his luck in Germany, a country renowned for giving young players a chance. It should perhaps have come as no surprise that the exciting 17-year-old winger chose Dortmund, a club renowned for their electrifying attacking football.
"We're delighted that Jadon Sancho, currently of the hottest prospects in European football, wants to play for Borussia Dortmund," club sporting director Michael Zorc enthused at the time. "We're convinced that we'll be able to help this very young player to further develop his game and to make him into a valuable addition to our team in the medium-term."
How very right he was.
21 October 2017 – Makes Bundesliga debut against Eintracht Frankfurt
In October 2017, Sancho was recalled from the FIFA U17 World Cup in India to travel with the Dortmund U19s to Cyprus, where he scored late in a 2-0 UEFA Youth League win over APOEL after being teed up by Jacob Bruun Larsen. Four days later, the youngster got his first taste of the Bundesliga as he replaced Maximilian Philipp in the 83rd minute of Dortmund's 2-2 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt. That made him the first Englishman in history to don BVB's famous black-and-yellow shirt – and he nearly celebrated his top-flight debut with a 90th-minute goal, only to be denied from close range by Eagles keeper Lukas Hradecky.
As if becoming the youngest player to feature in the Bundesliga in 2017/18 wasn't enough, a few weeks later Sancho found himself taking to the pitch at the Signal Iduna Park against the mighty Bayern Munich, although he was unable to turn the tide of the game, with Dortmund 3-1 down to the record champions when he replaced Andriy Yarmolenko on 80 minutes. Still, one thing was clear: this outrageously talented teen was ready for the big time.
Watch: Jadon Sancho's story, from London, to Manchester, to Dortmund!
28 October 2017 – Becomes a FIFA U17 World Cup winner (from Germany!)
Although he missed the knockout stages of the tournament, Sancho still got his hands on an U17 World Cup winner's medal for his part in England's triumph in India. He racked up three goals and two assists as the Young Lions saw off Chile (4-0), Mexico (3-2) and Iraq (4-0) to finish top of Group F. In his absence they went on to beat Japan, the USA, Brazil and Spain on their way to a second World Cup triumph of 2017, having claimed the U20 crown in June.
"Jadon sent us a video before the game of him in his England shirt, trying to get us motivated, and that was really nice," U17s captain Joel Latibeaudiere revealed to Sportsmail. "He'll be getting his medal sent out to him and he really deserves it."
Sancho had already come close to silverware with England at the UEFA European U17 Championship in May 2017 – where he was named Player of the Tournament – but Steve Cooper's side were beaten 4-1 on penalties by Spain in the final.
January 2018 – Makes first Bundesliga starts and provides first assist
There was a changing of the guard at Dortmund in December 2017, with Peter Stöger replacing Peter Bosz in the hotseat after a dismal run of eight league games without victory. That turned out to be good news for Sancho, who joined the senior squad for their winter training camp in southern Spain and soon caught the eye of the Austrian coach.
"Jadon is a very, very talented lad, a real livewire," Stöger enthused. "He took part in a proper training camp, which was a good step for him. He has real quality, even though he isn't quite the finished article in front of goal. Let's see how he handles the situation from here."
In January 2018, Stöger handed the young Englishman his first Bundesliga starts in consecutive games against Wolfsburg (0-0), Hertha Berlin (1-1) and Freiburg (2-2). His faith was quickly repaid – in the Hertha game on 19 January, Sancho notched his first assist in the German top flight, setting up Shinji Kagawa for the 20,000th away goal in Bundesliga history.
21 April 2018 – Grabs first Bundesliga goal in stunning performance against Bayer Leverkusen
Two ligament injuries kept Sancho sidelined for much of February and March, but he returned with a bang in April, putting in a magnificent display against Dortmund's fellow UEFA Champions League chasers Bayer Leverkusen. The London-born prodigy needed just 13 minutes to open the scoring in front of the Yellow Wall, receiving a Christian Pulisic pass and stroking his first senior goal past Ramazan Özcan and into the far corner. He thereby became the Bundesliga's youngest English goalscorer (18 years and 27 days), as well as the first player from his country to net for BVB.
"Just before my goal I had a fantastic opportunity to make it 1-0, but messed it up," Sancho explained. "I said to myself afterwards that I had to get one today. It's fantastic that I managed to do it in front of the South Stand. I'm just so happy."
But as Leverkusen were to discover, the Sancho show was only just getting started. In the second half, he brought down Manuel Akanji's long ball forward with an exquisite touch before setting up Philipp for 3-0. He then capped a man-of-the-match performance by caressing a ball to the far post for Marco Reus to head home and round out an impressive 4-0 victory against a team who had been level on points at kick-off.
"Jadon is a brilliant player technically," future Dortmund captain Reus raved. "He took the chance that he got fantastically. The way he took down the ball and ran with it for the third goal was also amazing. It was certainly a very strong performance."
Watch: Sancho put in one of the best performances of his career against Bayer
29 September 2018 – Comes off the bench to haunt Leverkusen and send Dortmund top
Another managerial change saw Lucien Favre take over from Stöger at the BVB helm in summer 2018, and the Swiss tactician was content to use Sancho as a not-so-secret weapon from the bench in the early months of the campaign. The Englishman was decisive in substitute appearances against RB Leipzig (4-1), Frankfurt (3-1) and Nuremberg (7-0), until a game-changing cameo against his old friends Leverkusen appeared to convince Favre that he was worthy of a starting place.
The 18-year-old entered the fray at the BayArena with BVB 2-1 down, and barely a minute later he had helped to bring them level, racing the length of the pitch before combining with Reus, who fired in the equaliser. He then grabbed his Bundesliga-leading fifth assist of the campaign – all from the bench – as he set Paco Alcacer away on the counter deep in stoppage time. Ever since that 4-2 victory over Die Werkself, Dortmund have been battling for the Bundesliga title, while Sancho has only started one league game on the bench: the shock 2-1 defeat at Fortuna Düsseldorf in December.
12 October 2018 – Makes England debut against Croatia
October 2017 had already worked out rather nicely for Sancho – a first Bundesliga outing and a World Cup win – and October 2018 ended up being similarly memorable. At 18 years and 201 days, he became the second-youngest player in history to make his debut for England in a competitive match – Duncan Edwards was all of 18 days younger when he took to the pitch again Scotland all the way back in April 1955.
Sancho replaced Raheem Sterling in the 78th minute of England's goalless draw with Croatia in the UEFA Nations League – though it was admittedly a rather surreal experience, given that the game was played behind closed doors. Having made a positive impact in Rijeka, the BVB winger was handed his first full start by Gareth Southgate in November's 3-0 friendly win over Pulisic and the USA at Wembley, where nearly 70,000 fans got to see him tee up Trent Alexander-Arnold for England's second goal. Three days later, he came off the bench again as the Three Lions defeated Croatia 2-1 at home to qualify for the Nations League Finals in June.
"Provided he doesn't become restricted, he could be our Neymar-type player – in terms of being unpredictable, playing on that left-hand side," Sancho's England U15 and U16 coach Dan Micciche told The Guardian. "He's flamboyant, entertaining to watch. But like Neymar he's effective with it. In most games he'll create something – it's not a beauty contest. He's not on the pitch flicking it over someone's head for the sake of it."
24 October 2018 – Gets first Champions League goal against Atletico Madrid
Having started Dortmund's first two Champions League group games of 2018/19 – making his debut in the 1-0 win at Club Brugge, then setting up Bruun Larsen for the opener in the 3-0 victory over Monaco – Sancho got his first goal under the European spotlight in the stunning 4-0 win over Atletico Madrid, the heaviest of Diego Simeone's seven-year tenure.
The Dortmund No.7 needed just four minutes to notch his maiden strike after coming off the bench, becoming the second-youngest English player – after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in September 2011 – to score in the Champions League (18 years and 213 days). He was also the first Englishman to score for a non-British club in the competition since David Beckham curled in a trademark free-kick for Real Madrid against Rosenborg in October 2005.
27 October 2018 – Scores first Bundesliga brace against Hertha
Three days after netting against Atletico, Sancho's October hot streak continued as he registered his first Bundesliga brace against Hertha Berlin. Having already had an outrageous backheel chalked off by the VAR, the newly minted England international latched onto passes from Mario Götze and Achraf Hakimi to get his first double, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to score twice in the same Bundesliga game. He was also the youngest man to do so for Dortmund, and the eighth-youngest in the Bundesliga overall.
Sancho's heroics weren't quite enough for BVB to win the game as Hertha's Salomon Kalou also notched a brace, but the teenager was still impressed with a united team performance.
"Everyone works hard for each other, that's the main thing in this team," he told bundesliga.com. "If we keep on doing this, then we've got a good chance of winning the league, or bigger things like the Champions League, you never know. We just have to keep on working hard for each other and we've got to wait and see what happens."
Watch: What makes Sancho such an asset for Dortmund?
24 February 2019 – Reaches 10 assists and breaks Podolski scoring record
Leverkusen must be sick of the sight of Sancho. On Matchday 23, the Englishman was once again Die Werkself's torturer-in-chief as he inspired Dortmund to a win that kept them three points clear of Bayern at the top of the table. When he whipped in a corner that Dan-Axel Zagadou turned in from close range, Sancho moved onto 10 assists for the Bundesliga season, with only Barcelona's Lionel Messi setting up more goals across Europe's top five leagues.
He wasn't done there. Eight minutes later, Adbou Diallo clipped in a delightful ball from the left, which cleared Tin Jedvaj's head and met the swish of Sancho's right boot, the No.7 volleying crisply into the bottom corner for 2-1. Further goals came from Götze and Jonathan Tah as BVB ran out 3-2 winners, with their wing wizard surpassing Lukas Podolski as the youngest Bundesliga player to score nine senior goals (18 years and 336 days). He can outdo the former Cologne and Germany legend again if he scores at home to VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 25 – that would make him the youngest-ever Bundesliga player to reach double figures.
22 March 2019 – An assist on his first competitive England start
Just three days short of his 19th birthday, Sancho was handed his first competitive start for England's senior side. He immediately rewarded Southgate's faith in him by setting up Raheem Sterling for the opening goal in a 5-0 UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying win over the Czech Republic, mirroring his assisting form for Dortmund.
Running onto a brilliant ball through from captain Harry Kane, the BVB winger coolly squared across goal for his one-time club teammate, taking his tally of assists for the Three Lions to two in two starts.
"This has been a crazy year, I would never have imagined it," Sancho recently told the Daily Mail. "I just have to keep working hard, keep focused and hopefully I can go further. It hasn't been easy. I've had to work for this. Obviously training and showing what I'm about to coaches. They've seen what I can do and I've been showing it in games, doing my skills, doing what I do best. I'm combining with my teammates and just working hard for the team. I'm just happy it's all working out and everyone is seeing that for themselves."
23 August 2019 - fastest player to reach 15 Bundesliga goals
Sancho began 2019/20 as he ended the previous campaign. Now a key cog in the BVB line-up, Sancho is involved in almost every goal that goes in for the black-yellows. Having scored once and provided two assists in the opening day victory over Augsburg, the Englishman went into Matchday 2's away trip against Cologne with another record in sight.
It looked as if Dortmund would succumb to their first defeat of the season when the home side took the lead, and kept it until late in the second half. But Sancho's inspired performance once again help save BVB blushes and put his name deeper into the Bundesliga history books. Collecting the ball short from a corner before cutting past a defender on to his "weaker" left-foot, Sancho smashed home the equaliser. It was Sancho's 15th Bundesliga goal, making him the youngest player ever to reach that mark – 34 days younger than when Horst Köppel scored his 15th in 1967. And of course, Sancho got an assist later on as Dortmund went on to win 3-1.
So strap yourselves in, because there are no doubt plenty more milestones to come on the Sancho rollercoaster in the months and years ahead…
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