He is one of the most exciting attacking players in football, but who exactly is Borussia Dortmund and Germany talent Julian Brandt? Allow bundesliga.com to enlighten you…
1) Bundesliga prodigy
Brandt joined Bayer Leverkusen from Bundesliga rivals Wolfsburg at the age of just 17 in January 2014 and swiftly went about making his mark at the club. The attacking midfielder was handed his top-flight debut just a few weeks later at the age of 17 years, 9 months and 13 days, replacing Heung-Min Son in the 82nd minute of a 2-1 defeat away to Schalke on 15 February 2014.
He has not looked back since. After registering two goals and three assists in 12 appearances that season, primarily as a substitute, he featured 25 times the following campaign to help Leverkusen into fourth place and into the UEFA Champions League.
Watch: Brandt's flicks, tricks, skills and goals
2) Record breaker
OK, so plenty of talented youngsters have made their Bundesliga debuts in their teens. Fair point. How many of them went on to reach a century of appearances before turning 22, though? Not many. On 26 August 2017, Brandt became the youngest Leverkusen player in history – and tenth youngest overall – to play his 100th Bundesliga match when he featured in his side's 2-2 draw with Hoffenheim on 26 August 2017 aged 21 years, three months and 25 days.
Still not convinced? How about this: between 20 March and 30 April 2016, the attacker found the net in six consecutive league outings, becoming the youngest player to do so since a certain Gerd Müller.
3) Full international
All of which unsurprisingly stirred up a cocktail that proved irresistible to the then Germany head coach Joachim Löw, who thrust the teenager onto the senior international stage just over two years after he first stepped onto a Bundesliga pitch. Brandt was a half-time substitute for Mario Gomez in a 3-1 friendly defeat to Slovakia in Augsburg in May 2016, but although he was part of Germany's provisional squad for UEFA EURO 2016 he did not make the final cut.
Undeterred, the Bremen native helped the U21 side win silver at the Olympic Games that same summer and was a regular in Löw's squads until the end of 2020. Not bad considering the competition for places in attacking midfield that has included vying with the likes of Marco Reus, Leroy Sane, Mesut Özil, Thomas Müller and Mario Götze, among others.
4) Bucking the tattoo trend
These days, tattoos are almost as much a part of a footballer's attire as their shirts, shorts, boots and socks, but Brandt has never been one to follow the crowd and doesn't have a single drop of ink on his body.
"I don't have any tattoos at all," he told Germany's Bild newspaper in 2018. "Partly because it's not really something I've thought about much. My family is fundamentally against them. My mother says that nowadays you're one of a kind if you don't have a tattoo. I'd definitely never get one on my face."
5) Family first
Speaking of family, Brandt is very close to his roots and takes care of his nearest and dearest financially. "We used to live in a terraced house in Bremen," he said. "That was a little too small for us five [his parents and two brothers], but we loved it. When I earned enough money as a young professional, I bought my family a bigger house five minutes away. That was a matter of the heart for me. My parents or brothers will never have to pay any bills - I could never allow that."
Furthermore, his father Jürgen is his long-time agent and oversaw his initial move to Leverkusen, a subsequent contract extension there and also his transfer to Dortmund. Our family relationship is very intimate - very special," Brandt said. "My mother, father, us three boys. That was a big reason why I wanted my dad to be my agent. He has done a great job in the last few years. We've never had a fight with each other."
6) The X-factor
While football is undoubtedly a team game, goals win matches and those that can score or create them are in high demand. Brandt is a case in point, his willingness to take risks and try the unexpected in the final third often unlocking the most stubborn of defences. And it is a conscious decision to do so on the player's part.
"I like it when a complete love of the game takes over, like when a player does something special, unexpected, slightly instinctive," he said in an interview with Die Welt. "When you're watching a game and you think you know what’s coming next, but then something happens that nobody had expected. That wow factor that gets you off your seat, That's the reason I play football: to surprise people. I've promised myself that I'll always retain that element of surprise in my game, even in spite of our tactical responsibilities." He's certainly been true to his word thus far in his career.
Watch: Brandt in full flow
7) All-round talent
Depending on who you ask and where you look, you'll see Brandt listed as a 'forward', 'left-midfielder', 'attacking midfielder' or 'winger'. So what is he? The only real answer to that is all of the above. Standing at 6'1", he is a powerful presence, blessed with speed and aerial ability, but also a deftness on the ball and that allows him to get out of almost any tight spot.
At the start of 2018/19 he played wide on the left, which is where he has invariably appeared for Germany too, but the arrival of Peter Bosz at Leverkusen in January prompted a switch to a more central position. “I’ve seen a lot of games involving Julian,” said Bosz. “During my time with Dortmund when we played against Bayer, in Leverkusen. Back then he was playing on the wing, but I saw him as a midfielder.
"He’s such a good player and you’ve got to give good players the ball as much as possible. Today he was really exceptional. He barely lost the ball, he was choosing the right moments to complete the triangles. He’s a great player.” Six goals and a handful of assists in 17 league outings in the second half of the season were testament to that.
8) One half of 'Bravertz' bromance
In recent seasons, Brandt struck up a close friendship with former Leverkusen midfielder and fellow Germany international Kai Havertz. From celebrating goals together, playing Fortnite or posing for photos on social media, the pair's off-field chemistry is arguably a reason why they perform so well together on it – leading them to being dubbed 'Bravertz' by the media.
“The duo will live forever!” posted Brandt on Instagram after his move to Dortmund was confirmed. “Forever bro,” replied Havertz,
9) The humble superstar
If Brandt comes across as a friendly boy-next-door type, it's probably because he is. He often gives away his match-worn shirt or poses for selfies with fans even after his team loses, and in media circles he is known as a thoughtful, engaging interviewee who frequently gives considered, honest answers to questions.
"I try to be humble myself, and would recommend it to others," Brandt said. "You should be sensible and say 'hello' to everyone, and not go around being arrogant."
Watch: A tactical analysis of Havertz and Brandt
10) Natural born winner
Don't be mistaken by that down-to-earth attitude or his fresh-faced appearance, however; a steely will to win lies underneath. From lifting the U19 Bundesliga championship with Wolfsburg to Olympic silver and forming a key part of Germany's 2017 Confederations Cup triumph, Brandt wants to win.
"I think you should set yourself the biggest possible goals as a player and club," he told Bild in 2018. "You don't have to run through the street and say, 'I'm going to be a champion, win the cup and the Europa League', but you can just say, 'I want that.'" Now that he's at Dortmund alongside Reus, Thorgan Hazard, Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcacer, more silverware will surely come.
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