At the start of this season Joe Scally enjoyed a quiet existence, relatively unheard of as he attempted to break into the Borussia Mönchengladbach first team. Not anymore.
Fast forward two months, and the 18-year-old American’s name is on everyone’s lips across Germany, especially since scoring his first Bundesliga goal on Matchday 7.
That milestone, which came in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time to crown a 3-1 win away to Wolfsburg on Saturday, was the reward for a series of consistent displays that belie his youthful age and status as a Bundesliga rookie in his maiden campaign. In doing so, he became the 33rd different USA player to find the back of the net in Germany's top flight.
Watch: Scally caps fine Gladbach win - in 60 seconds!
"Yann [Sommer] gave me the ball over the top and I just headed it,” the New York native told bundelsiga.com after the final whistle. “I didn’t even realise that no one was there and just ran on to it. I cannot believe it even went in. It was amazing!
"I mean, I just want to keep scoring now after feeling that. With everyone jumping on me, I just want to do it again. It was unbelievable!"
Equally unbelievable has been his rise to prominence this season, coming as quickly and directly as one of his forays down the flanks for the Foals.
Scally was only given a chance in pre-season owing to injury to Ramy Bensebaini. Yet he adapted seamlessly to playing at left-back, rather than his preferred role on the right, and has played from start to finish in every Bundesliga game so far in 2021/22, including an impressive display in a baptism-of-fire debut against Bayern Munich on Matchday 1.
Watch: Scally reflects on his first Bundesliga goal
The defender has since showcased his versatility in reverting to right-back as cover for long-term absentee Stefan Lainer, while head coach Adi Hütter has also trusted him enough to field him further forward as wing-back on either side of the pitch.
The Gladbach No.29 – he chose that shirt number as it was the only one available with a two in it, the number traditionally used by right-backs – has now repaid that faith, and taken the next step in his development by scoring his first top-flight goal in Germany. And not just any goal: Wolfsburg had only let in five prior to Matchday 7, having been top of the table on Matchdays 2, 3 and 4.
It was no fluke, either. Scally is a regular contributor to Gladbach’s attacks and of all Bundesliga defenders, only Willi Orban, Marc Oliver Kempf (both 11) and Niko Gießelmann (10) have had more efforts on goal than Scally’s nine. Put into context, that is the same number as attackers Thomas Müller, Dominik Szoboszlai and Vincenzo Grifo.
"It feels amazing to go right before the international break and get these three points,” Scally said, the result lifting the Foals to 10th after some early season wobbles.
“We have all the momentum going now. We just want the international week to be over, so we can get back to winning again. We are on track. It's still early in the season. We have a good position now after a rough start. Now, we are just going to keep building on these performances and keep winning."
With Scally on this kind of upward trajectory, that looks to be a certainty.
5 reasons to watch Der Klassiker
Dortmund take on Bayern in one of the must-see games in world football this Saturday...
5 reasons Frankfurt will beat Tottenham
No Götze? No problem for the reigning Europa League champions on Matchday 3 in Champions League Group D...
Fantasy Team of the Week: Matchday 8
Timo Werner, Jamal Musiala and Niclas Füllkrug were the standout performers in the Fantasy Team of the Week for Matchday 8.