Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels is one of the best No.5s in the game. - © DFL
Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels is one of the best No.5s in the game. - © DFL

Mats Hummels: 10 things on Borussia Dortmund's World Cup-winning centre-back


A six-time Bundesliga winner, a 2014 FIFA World Cup champion, a 2013 UEFA Champions League finalist and a perfect interviewee, Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels is one of German football's golden boys.

While Hummels' life story and curriculum vitae are as familiar as the sight of one of his famed outside-of-the-boot passes, has collated 10 lesser-known facts about the centre-back-cum-fashion-model.

1) Mummy's boy

Had Hummels not been a footballer, it's safe to say he would have been a football writer or broadcaster. The defender's mother, Ulla Holthoff, has been a sports journalist for over four decades and, in 1990, became the first woman to commentate a live football match on German TV when working for national broadcaster ZDF.

She has since presented the lead sports show on Bavarian television, but recalled how she used to take a young Mats to work with her: "For some shows he'd sit in the TV wagon at the back and was allowed to press the button for the graphics to appear on the screen," she said. "When he's in a stadium nowadays, it's guaranteed there'll be at least one journalist telling him: 'I know you, you used to be so small!'"

Hummels came through the youth ranks at Bayern Munich. - 2007 Getty Images

2) Brotherly love

While Mats hasn't yet made it into the media (although his eloquent post-match interviews indicate that a TV career is a post-football certainty), then his brother, Jonas, has. Like Mats, Jonas began his football career in the Bayern academy, but joined third-tier Unterhaching in 2008.

Also a centre-back, Hummels junior was made the club's youngest ever captain in 2012 by former Bayer Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich, but a succession of knee ligament injuries prompted a premature retirement four years later at the age of 25. Admitting that he "would never have been as good" as Mats, Jonas now works for German TV channel DAZN as a football expert, regularly acting as co-commentator or pundit on the station's live broadcasts.

3) A defensive father

If media work is a family tradition, then so are defensive duties. Hermann Hummels, father of Mats and Jonas, was also a defender, representing a string of lower-league clubs during his 12-year playing career, which ended in 1990. He became better known as a coach, and after an interim spell in charge of Mainz in the 1994/95 season - when he oversaw the development of a certain Jürgen Klopp - Hermann pitched up at Bayern, where he would remain as youth coach until his retirement in 2012. He now works as an agent, representing both of his sons, among others.

Hummels excelled in Dortmund, where he was handed his big break by Jürgen Klopp. - imago/Thomas Bielefeld

4) A protective parent

Hummels has been with his now-wife Cathy (née Fischer) since 2007; she has her own media career as a TV presenter, and produced a video diary for German tabloid Bild from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Mats and Cathy married the following summer in Munich, where they met, and since have a son, Ludwig (born January 2018). While the pair regularly post photos on social media, there are no images of the infant's face: "We decided not to show our child to the world," Cathy told lifestyle magazine Bunte, explaining that this is in order to protect Ludwig's privacy until he is old enough to decide himself whether or not to be seen in public. Cathy has no such concerns herself, and has recently brought out a yoga book, describing the exercise as a "panacea".

5) Klopp the babysitter

While Mats might have hazy memories of Klopp from when his father Hermann was in charge at Mainz in 1994/95 - "I recognised him, but I was too young to have any real memories," he once said - the current Liverpool boss no doubt still recalls babysitting his coach's son alongside then-goalkeeper Stephan Kuhnert; babysitting apparently involved little more than watching a six-year-old Hummels kick the ball relentlessly off the garage door.

Little wonder that just over 10 years later, when the pair were reunited at Dortmund - with Klopp still watching over Mats, just this time as his coach - Hummels told the Daily Mail the relationship was "almost like family... One day we would be there, screaming at each other, but the next day it was all fine. He understood me, I understood him."

They remain close (as you would expect after two Bundesliga titles, a DFB Cup and a run to the UEFA Champions League final), with Klopp inviting Hummels to his 50th birthday party in June 2016; the World Cup winner had to decline as it clashed with his own wedding anniversary, "otherwise I would have been at Kloppo's 50th, of course," he insisted.

Among his many accolades, Hummels is a World Cup winner with Germany, whom he has also captained - like in this fixture with England. - imago/Sch¸ler

6) A charitable man

Off the field, Hummels donates plenty of time to charitable causes: in 2017, he spent three days in Malawi as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador with the aim of bringing German attention to child poverty in the southern African nation. "I want to raise awareness for this cause in my country so that they can donate more money to people in Malawi, especially the children," he said. "I am deeply saddened seeing the poor conditions these kids are growing up in. Help is urgently needed in so many different ways," Hummels then wrote on Instagram.

The Bergisch Gladbach native also donates one per cent of his salary to Common Goal, the initiative founded by Manchester United midfielder Juan Mata. "Through the one per cent pledge, we're building a bridge between football and its social impact around the world," Hummels said.

7) A Selecao fan

If you ever see Hummels celebrating with by making an 'S' shape with his hand - as he did in his early days at Borussia Dortmund - then it's a nod to his Munich school team, who used to call themselves the 'Selecao' after the Brazil national team.

8) Old big ears

Having come so close to winning the Champions League in 2013 - when Dortmund were beaten 2-1 in the final by Bayern - Hummels is desperate to lift the European Cup before his career finishes. "If we were guaranteed to win the Champions League, then I'd swap quite a lot to get my hands on it," he told Goal after Bayern's semi-final exit to eventual champions Real Madrid in 2018.

Playing with Arjen Robben, who scored the winning goal at Wembley, only served as a reminder of how close Hummels came to winning the big prize: "They always show that moment in the stadium before the game," the Dutchman told Bild. "Whenever we're warming up, Mats comes over to me and we say that we need to create a new moment for the big screens."

Watch: Quarter-back Hummels

9) Twitter Q&A king

A regular user of Twitter and Instagram, Hummels often runs impromptu Q&A sessions for his fans on social media, ranging from all things football to basketball and life inside the professional bubble (such as one pre-World Cup 2018 Q&A session with Jerome Boateng in the back of a car). "It usually happens spontaneously," he told Goal. "Sometimes there's nothing to say and I don't have to offer an opinion on everything ... I follow a lot of amusing, sarcastic accounts. Expressing yourself succinctly [in few characters] is part of the fun of it."

10) Brain training

Often praised for his thoughtful, detailed post-match interviews, Hummels' off-field brain training perhaps serves as an explanation: the defender tries to use the oodles of free time footballers have to learn Spanish; he enjoys watching Fargo and Modern Family (although can no longer watch the latter having seen "every episode three times," according to The Mail); and spends time reading, citing in one BBC interview the basketball book "11 rings" by Phil Jackson, lent to him by former coach Thomas Tuchel.