Julian Green: USA's former Bayern Munich man back in the big time
Sometimes, what matters most is the journey. Julian Green's memorable adventure so far supports that notion, with the former Bayern Munich player back in the Bundesliga after a seven-year absence hoping to settle permanently in the German top-flight and secure a return to the USA men's national team.
Florida native Green burst on the scene as an exciting product of the Bayern production line, making his professional debut at just 18 in the UEFA Champions League, back in 2013. He was then named in Bayern's squad for that year's FIFA Club World Cup tournament and picked up a winners' medal despite not featuring for Pep Guardiola's side.
A Bundesliga debut came during a brief loan spell with Hamburg the following year and his pre-season hat-trick inside the first 35 minutes of Bayern's victory over Italian giants Inter Milan on the eve of the 2016/17 campaign suggested Green was on the brink of breakout.
Despite becoming the first American to score for Bayern - as he netted in October 2016's 3-1 win over Augsburg in the second round of the DFB Cup - Green was unable to force his way into Carlo Ancelotti's team on a permanent basis and left for VfB Stuttgart in 2017.
Watch: Julian Green hits 2016/17 pre-season hat-trick for Bayern Munich
Bundesliga 2 promotion was immediately secured in Green's first full season with VfB, but he was once again denied the opportunity to add to his five HSV appearances in the top tier.
After climbing out of the second division, Stuttgart decided it best to farm Green out to Greuther Fürth on an initial loan in 2017/18, before singing for the club permanently the following year. Three seasons later, Green's more than earned a proper crack of the Bundesliga whip after his nine goals and three assists helped seal a memorable promotion for the Cloverleaves last term.
And Green is now champing at the bit to get going.
"Yeah, the hunger's definitely there," the now 26-year-old told bundesliga.com. "After that first brief stint, I'm delighted to be back and just raring to go now."
Things may not have worked out for Green at Bayern as a first-team player, but playing under two such exceptional coaches and rubbing shoulders with world-class players such as Franck Ribery, Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben still left an indelible mark on the American forward.
"I trained under Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti, alongside top-drawer players I could learn from everyday," explained Green. "Obviously, with Bayern, it always boils down to winning, whether it's an actual game or a kickabout in training - everyone always wanted to win.
"And that's the philosophy that I'm trying to put into practice here [at Greuther Fürth]. I've been around a bit already and I try to use that experience to the benefit of the team, just by performing as well as I can."
Three years on from his last USA outing, Green is hoping that those performances will eventually lead to him adding to his 15 international caps and four goals in the Stars and Stripes of his homeland.
And with a FIFA World Cup on the horizon, memories of Green's extra-time effort in the last 16 stage of the 2014 World Cup are sure to soon resurface now that he's back in the Bundesliga.
"We're in contact," Green said of the national team. "I was with them at the end of last season. I didn't get to play, but I was at the training camp and that was really great.
"Now, it's just about performing well for Fürth and then, hopefully making the squad for the World Cup qualifiers."
Those qualifiers get underway in early September, giving Green the chance to press his claim for inclusion over the opening weeks of the new season. His first such opportunity comes with Fürth's Matchday 1 trip to old club Stuttgart; the perfect place for Green to begin his latest journey on the road to Bundesliga redemption.
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