Kai Havertz has taken the Bundesliga by storm since emerging as one the finest players of his generation at Bayer Leverkusen, and the Germany midfielder has reached another major milestone this weekend after making his 100th top-flight outing at the age of just 20.
It has been a whirlwind couple of years for the left-footed maestro, who has achieved more in three precocious years as a professional than many players manage throughout their entire careers.
As his number of top-flight outings with Die Werkself ticks over to a ton, bundesliga.com has picked out some of the Aachen native's most memorable moments…
Bundesliga debut vs. Werder Bremen, 15 October 2016
Having helped the Leverkusen U17s lift the Bundesliga title in 2015/16 – scoring against Borussia Dortmund in the final – Havertz was promoted to the U19s at the start of 2016/17, having also been awarded the U17 Fritz Walter silver medal by the German Football Association. Senior coach Roger Schmidt could already see that he had a special talent on his hands.
"He's an excellent footballer with outstanding technical ability, and a gift for making the right decisions," the ex-Leverkusen boss enthused. "We saw him in training and decided to give him a bit of playing time, to see how he reacted to playing in a full stadium. It was quickly obvious that it didn't faze him one bit."
Havertz made his Bundesliga bow against Werder Bremen after getting a late call-up to replace Lars Bender, who was too ill to play. At 17 years, four months and five days old, he became the youngest-ever player to feature for Leverkusen's first team.
Watch: Kai Havertz exclusive
First Bundesliga goal vs. Wolfsburg, 2 April 2017
Havertz already had 16 Bundesliga appearances and a handful of assists under his belt by the time he found the back of the net for the first time at home to Wolfsburg. The teenager set another club record as he volleyed in sweetly to rescue a point for Leverkusen in a barnstorming 3-3 draw, surpassing Julian Brandt to become their youngest-ever goalscorer at 17 years, nine months and 23 days old.
Leverkusen demonstrated their growing faith in Havertz by also handing him three substitute appearances in that season's UEFA Champions League. He was given special dispensation to skip the last 16 second leg against Atletico Madrid, however, as he was preparing to take his high-school exams at the Landrat-Lucas school in Leverkusen. Proof of a maturity beyond his years both on and off the pitch.
First Bundesliga brace vs. Hertha Berlin, 20 May 2017
Leverkusen finished the 2016/17 campaign in a disappointing 12th place, with Schmidt relieved of his duties in March. Havertz continued to feature regularly under interim boss Tayfun Korkut, and served further notice of his potential with a first Bundesliga brace against Hertha Berlin on the final day of the season, in an impressive 6-2 away win.
That double made him the second-youngest player to net a Bundesliga brace after fellow Germany international Timo Werner, with whom he has been trading records of precocity for several years. All told, the 17-year-old rounded out the league season with four goals and six assists in 24 appearances, and the promise of greater things to come.
Fiftieth Bundesliga appearance vs. Eintracht Frankfurt, 14 April 2018
Werner became the youngest player to reach 50 Bundesliga appearances in February 2015, at 18 years, 11 months and 15 days old, but a little over three years later Havertz narrowly surpassed the RB Leipzig star, setting a fresh mark of 18 years, 10 months and four days old against Eintracht Frankfurt.
The Leverkusen man celebrated the milestone with two stylish assists, crossing for Brandt to open the scoring in the first half, and then setting Kevin Volland on the path to a second-half hat-trick with a cute backheel as Die Werkself romped to a 4-1 win over the Eagles. Havertz was substituted off to rapturous applause a few minutes before the final whistle.
"Technically speaking, what he does in games sometimes is unbelievable," a starry-eyed Brandt declared after the game. "He'll continue to progress in the coming years, and if he stays at the top of his game, I've no doubt he'll become an amazing player. Kai has the talent and potential to be a global star."
The DFB clearly agreed with Brandt's assessment. After the 2017/18 season – in which Leverkusen finished a far more respectable fifth – Havertz was awarded the prestigious U19 Fritz Walter gold medal. By the end of the campaign, the teen starlet was up to seven goals and 15 assists in the Bundesliga, but as it turned out he was only just getting started…
Watch: Kai Havertz - a tactical masterclass
First Bundesliga penalty vs. Wolfsburg, 26 January 2019
The first half of 2018/19 was a mixed bag for Havertz. He was on target six times during the Hinrunde, netting doubles in wins over Bremen and Hertha (again), as well as making his Germany debut in a friendly against Peru in September. But there were also lows for Leverkusen. Defeats to a host of their fellow European contenders left them ninth at Christmas, which led to Peter Bosz replacing Heiko Herrlich over the winter break.
The Dutchman took the bold decision of making Havertz his main penalty taker, despite his tender years, demonstrating a belief in the teenager's mental fortitude. It didn't take long for his faith to be repaid: in the second game after the winter break, Volland was brought down by William and Havertz coolly stroked the resulting spot-kick past Koen Casteels. At 19 years, seven months and 16 days old, he became – you've guessed it – Leverkusen's youngest ever penalty scorer.
"I've felt a lot of trust here at Leverkusen, including under Heiko Herrlich, and I've tried to repay it," Havertz told bundesliga.com. "I often take on responsibility, but I'm OK with that. It's a different kind of pressure. People maybe see you a bit differently and if you play badly, which is normal every now and then as a young player, you're criticised a bit more. But I think I can deal with that pressure."
The burden of responsibility sat just as lightly on Havertz's shoulders when Leverkusen won penalties in successive games against Leipzig and VfB Stuttgart in April. He converted both, earning all three points in a 1-0 victory over Die Schwaben. "We all know he's an extraordinary talent, even if he still has a lot to learn," Bosz observed. "He's ice-cool from the penalty spot. I stopped playing at 36, and even then I wasn't that calm from the spot."
Bundesliga teenage scoring record vs Hertha Berlin, 18 May 2019
Hertha must be fed up of facing Havertz on the final day of the season. After inspiring Leverkusen to that 6-2 win in 2017, he was up to his old tricks again two years later, providing the opener in a 5-1 away victory at the Olympiastadion. That took him onto a staggering 17 goals for the campaign – the most by a teenager in Bundesliga history – with a league-high nine of his strikes giving Bayer a 1-0 lead.
Having started in a midfield trio with Brandt and Charles Aranguiz in his first few games under Bosz, Havertz was gradually shifted into a more advanced role, ending up as the right-sided forward alongside Volland and Leon Bailey in the Dutchman's preferred 4-3-3. It meant the fledgling Germany international enjoyed a prolific run-in, with seven goals in the last seven games. The commanding win at Hertha allowed Leverkusen to snatch fourth place and the final Champions League spot away from Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Havertz was named in the 2018/19 Bundesliga Team of the Season.
Those performances certainly did not go unnoticed, with Germany legend Lothar Matthäus showering Havertz with praise. "He's set the bar very high. For me he was the player of the season," the 1990 Ballon d'Or winner and 1991 FIFA World Player of the Year told kicker. "If Havertz can maintain this high standard, with his natural talent, cleverness, presence on the pitch, and goal threat, then he could someday follow me as world footballer of the year."
Watch: All 26 of Kai Havertz's Bundesliga goals to date
100th Bundesliga appearance vs. Cologne, 14 December 2019
It must have been a special moment for Havertz when he stepped out at the RheinEnergieStadion on Saturday afternoon. He scrubbed Werner from the history books once again as he beame the youngest man to reach a century of Bundesliga outings, at just 20 years, six months and four days old.
Only three men have joined the 100 club before their 21st birthday: Leipzig goal machine Werner, former Schalke and Wolfsburg star Julian Draxler, now of Paris Saint-Germain, and Frankfurt legend Karl-Heinz 'Charly' Körbel, who holds the all-time record of 602 Bundesliga appearances for the Eagles. Distinguished company indeed.
There are no doubt still many highlights ahead for Havertz, with Leverkusen only eight points off top spot in the Bundesliga and through to the knockout stage of the UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Euro 2020 just around the corner for Germany. For now, though, bundesliga.com would simply like to salute the remarkable efforts of our youngest ever centurion.