Julian Brandt: 10 things on Borussia Dortmund's Germany star
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.
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 finish fourth and reach the UEFA Champions League. In total, he racked up 34 goals in 164 Bundesliga outings for Leverkusen before joining Borussia Dortmund in summer 2019.
The goals and assists have continued to flow since Brandt traded red for yellow. In 2021/22, he matched his career-best tally by netting nine times in the Bundesliga and laying on eight goals for his teammates. Now 26, he is perhaps approaching his peak. In 2022/23, he has already notched eight goals and four assists with a third of the season remaining.
Watch: All of Brandt's goals and assists in 2022/23
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 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, the Bundesliga's all-time record scorer.
3) Full international
All of which unsurprisingly stirred up a cocktail that proved irresistible to 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 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, Thomas Müller, Mario Götze and Mesut Özil, among others.
By the start of 2023, Brandt had earned 39 caps for his country and scored three goals, representing Die Mannschaft at the FIFA World Cup tournaments in both 2018 and 2022.
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: Julian Brandt and Karim Adeyemi on fire for BVB
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 that allows him to get out of almost any tight spot.
In his early years in the Bundesliga he played wide on the left, which is where he started out for Germany too, but the arrival of Peter Bosz at Leverkusen in January 2019 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. 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.”
Six goals and a handful of assists in the second half of that season were testament to that, and Brandt has continued to be regularly deployed in a central role since moving to BVB.
8) One half of the 'Bravertz' bromance
During their three seasons together in the Leverkusen first-team squad (2016-2019), Brandt struck up a close friendship with fellow Germany international Kai Havertz, who also left the BayArena for Chelsea in September 2020.
From celebrating goals together, playing Fortnite or posing for photos on social media, the pair's off-field chemistry was arguably a reason why they performed so well together on it – leading them to being dubbed 'Bravertz' by the media.
“The duo will live forever!” Brandt posted on Instagram after his move to Dortmund was confirmed in 2019. “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."
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.'"
So far he has helped Dortmund conquer two trophies - the Supercup in 2019 and the DFB Cup in 2021 - but the club have their eyes on a bigger prize: they want to end Bayern's stranglehold on the Meisterschale and claim their first Bundesliga title since 2011/12. With a player like Brandt in their ranks, you feel it's only a matter of time.
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