Borussia Dortmund moved quickly to snap up Germany-born Poland youth international Marcel Lotka, just days after he made his Bundesliga debut for Hertha Berlin. bundesliga.com profiles the up-and-coming goalkeeper...
Lotka was born on 25 May 2001 in Duisburg and started out in the youth ranks of local club MSV Duisburg before joining Schalke for a year from 2014 to 2015. A further two years were spent with Rot-Weiss Essen until a move to Bayer Leverkusen came to fruition in 2017. He helped Die Werkself's U17 side reach the semi-finals of the Enrunde in his first season, where his junior side were beaten by a Dortmund team that included Lotka's soon-to-be teammate Youssoufa Moukoko, who scored in both legs. At 17, Lotka moved up to Leverkusen's U19 ranks in 2018/19 and made his UEFA Youth League debut the following campaign, facing Lokomotiv Moscow (twice), Atletico Madrid and Juventus in four appearances as Leverkusen finished third in Group D. In total, Lotka played 72 times and kept 27 clean sheets across three seasons at the BayArena until he hopped over to Hertha in the summer of 2020.
There were three outings for the Old Lady's second string that led to a first call-up to the senior side on the final day of the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign. The 6'2" stopper was an unused substitute in the defeat to Hoffenheim on Matchday 34 but he was clearly already in the first team sphere. He made three matchday squads from rounds 21-23 this season and was handed a professional debut on Matchday 24 after injuries to senior quartet Oliver Christensen, Rune Jarstein, Nils-Jonathan Körber and Alexander Schwolow. He's only been out of the starting line-up once since, averaging 77 percent in the shots-to-saves department across April, but will join up with Dortmund's reserve side in the summer.
A first outing for Poland came in October 2016, when Lotka represented his country's U16 side against Italy. He's gone on to earn a total of 21 youth caps, the majority of which came in at U17 level where he was capped Lotka 10 times. He stepped up to the U21 team in September 2021, keeping a clean sheet on his debut - a 2-0 win over Latvia in UEFA European U21 Championship qualifying. Lotka kept his place for Poland's next game - a 2-1 defeat to Israel - and it only looks a matter of time before the young Eagle eventually makes the step to the senior setup.
Plays a bit like: Gregor Kobel
Kobel stands just an inch taller than his soon-to-be understudy and it's not just their imposing physical statures that draw similarities. In his Bundesliga bow, Lotka proved to have just as much spring in his legs as the Dortmund No.1 as well as boasting similarly excellent reflexes. It is a distinct move away from the focus on Roman Bürki's ball-playing skills between the posts in recent seasons.
Did you know?
Lotka - through his family's heritage - looks committed to representing Poland's senior team, but does still have the option to play for Die Mannschaft if there's interest from both sides. Having been born in Duisburg - the city that connects both Rhine and Ruhr rivers - he holds both passports.
Watch: Lotka impresses despite defeat on his Bundesliga debut
What they're saying
"Marcel will complete our team of goalkeepers for the coming season. He is a promising shot-stopper and has been able to demonstrate his potential in the Regionalliga and, most recently, even in the Bundesliga. We're very pleased." - Dortmund U23s team manager Ingo Preuss
"I’m happy to make my debut even if I imagined it going differently. We fought well from the first whistle, but we were affected by the early goal." - Lotka reflecting on his Bundesliga debut
"Lotka was very, very tidy today, but that doesn't surprise me. I've gotten to know him as very brave and he showed that with his first save. That gave him a bit of self-confidence. He couldn't do anything about the goals conceded. Despite the result, I was very satisfied with his performance." - Hertha coach Tayfun Korkut also discussing Lotka's top-flight bow
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