Niclas Füllkrug: Who is the Werder Bremen and Germany striker?
Niclas Füllkrug struck twice in just 66 minutes of action for Germany at the 2022 World Cup, including a famous equaliser against Spain. bundesliga.com profiles the no-nonsense Werder Bremen striker who has emerged as Germany's first-choice No.9...
Club: Werder Bremen
Country: Germany (four caps/ three goals)
Füllkrug's call-up to Germany's World Cup squad is just reward for his goal-fuelled form in the Bundesliga. The 29-year-old travels to Qatar as the Bundesliga's top-scoring German on 10 goals in 14 games for promoted Bremen, as well as two assists. That puts him second behind Christopher Nkunku for end product (the RB Leipzig talisman has 12 goals), while only Borussia Mönchengladbach counterpart Marcus Thuram ranks higher for shots on goal (55 compared to 46). The 6'2" forward, who was named September and October Player of the Month, is also among the league's top four players for challenges won (76).
Watch: All Niclas Füllkrug's goals so far in 2022/23
Contrary to popular belief, Füllkrug hasn't emerged from thin air. His 19 goals and eight assists played a crucial role in Werder's promotion back to the Bundesliga last season. He also kept hometown club Hannover afloat with a career-best single-campaign haul of 14 Bundesliga goals in 2017/18, having previously gained some invaluable experience in Germany's second tier with Nuremberg and Greuther Fürth (a combined 24 goals in 85 games).
Eight goals for the Germany U19s and 20s are further evidence of his innate nose for the back of the opposition net - instinct laid bare against Oman on his senior international debut. Introduced as a half-time substitute, the Werder talisman scored with his second attempt, before being denied his brace by an offside flag. He repeated the trick on his third international appearance, stepping off the bench to secure a point against Group E rivals Spain on World Cup Matchday 2. And lightning struck for a third time in the final group game, netting once again after his introduction against Costa Rica to make it three goals in his first four (all as a sub) caps.
Plays a bit like: Mario Gomez
Toni Kroos touched on some of the similarities Füllkrug shares with former Germany strikers Miroslav Klose and Mario Gomez in the build-up to the World Cup.
"We actually almost always had someone like him with Miro [Klose], Mario Gomez," the Real Madrid and ex-Germany midfielder said. "I think those are the types of players who can really help you in certain situations, and Hansi [Flick] knows that."
The robust and prolific Werder target man perhaps has more in common with Gomez, who forged a reputation as a classic fox in the box during a playing career that produced over 500 goals for club and country.
Did you know?
Füllkrug's nickname is 'Lücke', the German word for 'gap', in reference to the gap between his front teeth. He's also one half of Bremen's 'Ugly Ducklings' - a tongue-in-cheek moniker he dreamed up with striker partner Marvin Ducksch.
Perhaps someone should put 'resplendent swan' to him. It certainly befits his more recent numbers in front of goal.
What they're saying
"Niclas deserved the goal. He had two or three other shots. You could sense his presence up front as soon as he was on the pitch." - Flick after Füllkrug's Germany debut
"Hansi's not blind. Füllkrug is performing and is the smart choice." - Germany legend Lothar Matthäus
"'Fülle' can be important for the national team, just like he is for us. There are outstanding technical players [ahead of him], but if you want to play with a classic nine, I don't think there's anyone better." - Bremen defender Niklas Stark
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