bundesliga

Anton Stach: who is the Mainz midfielder, Germany's modern-day answer to Stefan Effenberg?

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Anton Stach has earned his first Germany cap after an impressive maiden season with Mainz, but what else is there to know about the rangy midfielder?

Anton Stach
Age: 23
Club: Mainz
Position: Defensive midfielder
Country:
Germany (1 cap)

Key stats

Born in Buchholz, southwest of Hamburg, in November 1998, Stach shares a hometown with former Eintracht Frankfurt "Fußballgott" and one-time Bundesliga top scorer Alex Meier. Like Meier, Stach has made his name away from northern Germany; rather less like the former striker he has taken the tourist route to the top, even if he still only 23.

Now 6'4", the taller than average Stach was still playing tennis alongside football before joining Werder Bremen's youth academy in 2010, and unlike his friend and colleague Jean-Manuel Mbom, never broke it into their first team.

Watch: Stach: "Germany call-up a huge surprise!"

Key stats

Instead, Stach did the rounds in the lower leagues, turning out for Osnabrück, Jeddeloh and Wolfsburg's reserves before Greuther Fürth took a gamble on him at the start of last season. The gamble paid off: Stach played 30 games as Fürth were promoted with the third-meanest defence in the division.

Called up to the Germany U21s during this time, Stach helped Stefan Kuntz's men to UEFA European U21 Championship glory in Hungary and Slovenia last summer, featuring in five of their six games on the way to the title.

It was Mainz who gave Stach his Bundesliga debut, though, and one goal, three assists and seven clean sheets in 21 games later - 13 of them starts - and he found himself in Hansi Flick's Germany squad for Die Mannschaft's March friendlies against Israel and the Netherlands, making his debut in the 2-0 victory over the former.

Watch: Stach scored his first Bundesliga goal as Mainz beat Wolfsburg 3-0 on Matchday 14

Plays a bit like: Stefan Effenberg

A strapping midfielder who used to play further forward but now anchors his club side's play, Stach has more than a little in common stylistically with former Germany great Stefan Effenberg.

Stach is in the 99th percentile Bundesliga-wide for BOTH shots attempted and interceptions made this season, making him an asset at either end of the field, while his height also helps him into the 98th percentile for aerial challenges won. Stach has also picked up five yellow cards this term...

It has been a while since Germany has had a midfielder just as adept at the dirty work as anything else - Sami Khedira was perhaps the last - and Flick has added another dimension to his squad with Stach's call-up.

All elbows like Stach, Stefan Effenberg made 40 appearances for Germany, scoring six goals, before his last international appearance in 1998. - Michael Kunkel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Did you know?

Stach comes from a sporting family. Both of his sisters are professional basketball players, while father Matthias is a qualified sports scientist who commentates tennis and, on occasion, football.

He even commentated one of Anton's games at last summer's Euros, saying "Don't embarrass me, boy!" live on air. Needless to say, the younger Stach didn't.

What they're saying:

"He didn't have such an easy time here at Werder when he was at boarding school. He was a bit behind his peers physically when he was young, but in my opinion he already had a very strategic disposition in his game and was incredibly goal-oriented and ambitious." - Former coach Florian Kohfeldt reflecting on Stach's early days at Bremen.

"The gap's extreme. Especially because the girls have invested just as much in their sport since they were young! But everyone also knows that this is the market. The nice thing is that there's no envy at all, but rather joy and support." - Stach comparing his football career to sisters Emma's and Lotte's basketball pursuit.

"Anton Stach will probably come as a surprise to many. He's doing a very good job in Mainz. He's not the finished product yet and still has room for improvement. But he already has a high quality that we can use in the team." - Flick on Stach's call-up