Robin Gosens joined Union Berlin from Inter Milan days before the start of the 2023/24 Bundesliga season. - © IMAGO/Beautiful Sports
Robin Gosens joined Union Berlin from Inter Milan days before the start of the 2023/24 Bundesliga season. - © IMAGO/Beautiful Sports

Robin Gosens: who is Union Berlin's new Germany international?


Robin Gosens is to play in the top flight of his homeland for the first time after joining Union Berlin from UEFA Champions League finalists Inter Milan. We chart the left-back's long road to the Bundesliga via the Dutch Eredivisie and Italy's Serie A.

Stats correct as of 16 August 2023

Robin Gosens

Age: 29 (born 5 July 1994)
Club: Union Berlin
Position: Left-back
Country: Germany (16 caps and two goals)

We can all relate to that sinking feeling of coming out of an exam or a job interview that went badly wrong. Pity a teenage Gosens, who was in a similar situation having earned a trial with Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. "It was a fiasco. I just couldn't keep up at all," are his honest memories of the unfortunate experience. Like any crushing setback, it was an obstacle that could be overcome by patience, hard work and developing long-term resilience. Having taken a long path to play in the biggest game in club football - the UEFA Champions League final - Gosens now joins Union Berlin as an experienced campaigner a decade later ready to take the Bundesliga by storm. 

After leading him away from Dortmund, Gosens's footballing road took him initially to the Netherlands, the homeland of his father - and the Vittese Arnhem youth setup. It remained a hard slog for a teenager desperate to make his mark in the game. He failed to make the breakthrough there and was loaned out to Dordecht in the Dutch second tier in 2013/14. The small club known as the Sheep Heads earned promotion to give the left-back his first taste of top-flight football the following season, in which Dordecht finished bottom of the Eredivisie table.

A move to Heracles Almelo kept Gosens in the Dutch first division, and in addition to being a reliable defender, he was steadily able to increase his attacking output - from two goal involvements in 2014/15 to three in 2015/16 and seven in 2016/17. That was enough to rouse the attention of Atalanta, who had just gained a sensational fourth-place finish in Serie A with a combination of fielding young talent and scouring Europe for unheralded players with promise like Gosens. 

A 20-year-old Gosens tussled against the likes of Ajax in his first top-flight season for Dordrecht in 2014/2015. - imago/Pro Shots

Gosens would grow into his new Italian club over time and began to flourish in a more attacking role at left wing-back, clocking up nine league goals and eight assists in 2019/20 followed by 11 goals and six assists in 2020/21. He made his Germany debut in September 2020 and had a starring role in a 4-2 win over Portugal in UEFA Euro 2020 in the summer of 2021 - scoring once and providing two assists in the tie. Three third-place league finishes in a row and two ventures into the Champions League knockout stages marked an incredible achievement for Atalanta, and with Gosens a standout performer, clubs with an even bigger stature were taking note. 

Reigning Italian champions Inter Milan pounced to sign Gosens in January 2022. He won his first honours in the game in his spell in Milan, with two Coppa Italia wins, and he came on as a substitute in the 2023 Champions League final, which his side lost 1-0 to Manchester City. With Gosens not a regular starter for the star-studded Inter side, he answered the call from Berlin in summer 2023 and will bring his Champions League experience (with 28 appearances) to Union as they embark on their debut campaign in the elite competition. 

Robin Gosens and Inter Milan narrowly lost out Germany team-mate Ilkay Gundogan's Manchester City in the 2023 UEFA Champions League final in Istanbul. - IMAGO/NurPhoto

Plays a bit like: Ramy Bensebaini

Just like their fellow Champions League contenders Dortmund, Union have recognised the value of having an experienced operator down the left side with the pace to open up opposition defences and track back to halt attacks when needed. Gosens also has the physicality to enhance Union's robust playing style from a key wing-back position.  

Did you know?

When Gosens finds the net, it's almost a guarantee his side are destined for three points. He has netted 42 times throughout his career, and only once has that come in a match his side has lost - against Juventus in 2019/20. When you consider that he has scored against the likes of Napoli, Liverpool, Roma, AC Milan and Barcelona, that is certainly a record to be proud of.

Robin Gosens has scored twice for Germany as of August 2023, against both Latvia and Portugal in June 2021. - O.Behrendt via images/Contrast

What they're saying

"As a personality, as a character, we rate him very highly because he's very open minded, active in communicating. He has a good relationship with all the players. He's really clear in his head. He's like how he plays on the pitch: very strict, direct, puts in a lot of commitment. That's the way he fights." - Germany coach Joachim Löw after Gosens was named Man of the Match after a 4-2 win against Portugal at Euro 2020

"His loss is a big one, but he’s been extraordinary for us, I can only thank him. He was a fundamental pillar of our team." - Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini following Gosens's departure to Inter Milan in 2022.

"In Robin, we have been able to sign a player who stands for commitment, mentality and team spirit. We were looking for these qualities and believe that we have gained an important reinforcement for our game with the signing of Robin. On and off the pitch, he should now play a leading role for us, " - Oliver Ruhnert, head of the men's first team at Union Berlin