Rouwen Hennings has been in devastating form for Fortuna Düsseldorf this season. - © Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images
Rouwen Hennings has been in devastating form for Fortuna Düsseldorf this season. - © Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images

Rouwen Hennings: Who is Fortuna Düsseldorf’s late-blooming frontman?

He’s currently the closest challenger to tearaway Bundesliga top scorer candidates Robert Lewandowski and Timo Werner - but who is Rouwen Hennings, and what made him the prolific Fortuna Düsseldorf talisman he is today? lifts the lid on the man who holds the key to Fortuna’s survival bid this season…

Rouwen Hennings

Age: 32
Club: Fortuna Düsseldorf
Position: Centre-forward
Country: Germany (21 caps for U21s, 13 goals)

Key stats

Hennings has been stacking numbers during a remarkable run of form that has seen the 5’9” striker carry the weight of Düsseldorf’s goalscoring burden on his burly back. From his 16 league appearances prior to the 2019/20 winter break, Hennings plundered 11 goals to put him behind only Lewandowski (19) and Werner (18) at the top of the Bundesliga’s scoring charts at the halfway stage. For perspective, Hennings’ contribution is a league-high share of 61 per cent of Fortuna’s combined team total of 18 goals. He also scored nine of their 11 league goals immediately prior to to the winter break, and has found the back of the net in all four of the Flingeraner’s victories.

Watch: Rouwen Hennings' first Bundesliga hat-trick

Furthermore, Hennings’ Hinrunde return - that includes a trio of penalties, a league-best first goal of the game on seven separate occasions and a stunning hat-trick in the 3-3 draw with Schalke - equals Fortuna’s club-record for most goals during the first half of a campaign, set by Klaus Allofs back in 1978/79.

It means Hennings already has the best single-season Bundesliga goal tally of his career and is just six off the 17 in 27 appearances for Karlsruhe in 2014/15 that landed him the top scorer award in Bundesliga 2. He now has 81 goals from 269 games across Germany’s top two divisions to go with his collection of Bundesliga 2 and Third Division titles.

Plays a bit like: Christian Vieri

There are many similarities between Italy legend Christian Vieri and Hennings: two thick-set, left-footed, strong-as-oxen predators. Hennings’ goals against Werder Bremen, Schalke and Eintracht Frankfurt illustrate the point, each showcasing his spatial awareness, incredible movement off the ball to lose his markers and ability to finish with aplomb with his feet or head. The Fortuna veteran’s unforgettable effort against Union Berlin also shows that Hennings, like Vieri, is capable of match-winning magic of the highest order.

Did you know?

Hennings’ stellar start to the season may surprise fans of English Premier League side Burnley after his spell with the Clarets back in 2015/16. Then in the English Championship, Hennings scored just one league goal and one more in the FA Cup over a total of 28 appearances in England.

While the ex-Hamburg, Osnabrück and St. Pauli man didn’t quite find form in front of goal, he did endear himself to the local community by making a trip to a local primary school affected by flooding over Christmas in 2016 armed with a coaching session for the pupils as well as a signed shirt and vouchers to cover the cost of replacing damaged school supplies.

Watch: Rouwen Hennings and the Bundesliga's unsung heroes

What they’re saying

"His goalscoring record cannot be explained by a single run. That's consistency. Rouwen could at least slip into the provisional [Germany] squad. What Rouwen has delivered so far is really, really good. Rouwen is an absolute team player, works a lot, and is technically very good.” - Düsseldorf coach Friedhelm Funkel

“In the penalty area, Rouwen is simply ice cold.” - Fortuna teammate and USA international Alfredo Morales

“Rouwen Hennings is currently in top shape. The work he does for the team is enormous. Rouwen is an undisputed leader, and his position within the team will increase over the next few years.” - Fortuna's sporting director Lutz Pfannenstiel