Borna Sosa: Who is VfB Stuttgart's 'left-footed' David Beckham?


VfB Stuttgart boast one of the best crossers in the game in Borna Sosa. bundesliga.com lifts the lid on the Croatia international left-back...

Borna Sosa

Age: 24
Club: VfB Stuttgart
Position: Left-back/left midfield
Country: Croatia (13 caps, one goal)

Key stats

Born in the Croatian capital of Zagreb on 21 January 1998, Sosa joined the youth academy of hometown club Dinamo Zagreb as a seven-year-old in 2005. Sosa made his professional debut for Dinamo 10 years later, playing the full 90 minutes of a 2-0 win over city rivals NK Zagreb – a game that also saw RB Leipzig midfielder Dani Olmo named among the Dinamo substitutes.

Sosa made his European bow by featuring in both the qualifying and group stages of Dinamo’s 2016/17 UEFA Champions League campaign. He went on to make 41 appearances and six assists over four seasons with the Modri, helping them collect three Croatian league titles and two domestic cups. The then 18-year-old’s sole appearance in the 2016 edition of the latter came in their 2-1 victory in the final, in which he played the full 90 minutes.

Sosa (r.) caught the eye at Dinamo Zagreb, before switching to Stuttgart. - Imago

Ahead of the 2018/19 campaign, Sosa penned a five-year deal with Stuttgart and made his Bundesliga debut on Matchday 1. An injury-hit first season at the Mercedes-Benz Arena concluded with 12 league appearances, while he chalked up his first assist in Germany in the 3-1 Matchday 32 loss at Hertha Berlin – supplying Mario Gomez with one of his now trademark pinpoint crosses.

Sosa did not feature in either leg of Suttgart’s ultimately unsuccessful relegation play-off showdown with Union Berlin that season as VfB were relegated. Their return to the top-flight was, however, immediate, although injuries again restricted Sosa’s input to 12 games. Nevertheless, he did contribute three assists and scored for the first time as a professional by grabbing the equaliser in the 1-1 draw at Darmstadt on 16 December 2019.

It's been onwards an upwards ever since. Sosa produced nine assists in 2020/21, and a further eight in 2021/22. He struck up a particularly fruitful partnership with former teammate Sasa Kalajdzic, setting up the 6'5" Austrian over 10 times across those two seasons. The 6'2" defender earned his first senior cap in September 2021, and scored his maiden Bundesliga goal in a win over Mainz two months later. He was a key part of Croatia's side that finished third at the 2022 World Cup, playing in five of the team's seven matches in Qatar.

Watch: Borna Sosa first Bundesliga goal was an absolute corker!

Plays a bit like: David Beckham

"Borna's said himself that David Beckham is his role model, and I think he has the same qualities." Those were the words of VfB sporting director Sven Mislintat, and ones that Sosa found flattering as he later responded: "It’s hard to compare yourself to a football legend. But is it nice to hear something like that? Of course. And do we have anything in common in our crosses? We do. It's not easy to learn. You either have it or you don't."

Sosa certainly does "have it" and his marauding raids from the left that result in menacing perfect cross after menacing perfect cross are like watching mirrored versions of Beckham highlight reels.

Did you know?

Sosa flirted with representing Germany at senior international level ahead of the rescheduled UEFA 2020 Euros. He received German citizenship in May 2021, only to find out he was ineligible under FIFA rules. The VfB defender later issued an apology to the Croatian public.

"The decision I made was wrong and I have to take responsibility for it myself," he wrote. "If the Croatian Football Federation and the selectors believe that in spite of everything I can contribute to the success of our national teams, I will respond to their invitation and be available."

All was forgotten when Sosa marked his fifth Croatia appearance with the assist for the goal that sent his country to the 2022 World Cup finals.

Sosa joins in celebrations led by Hoffenheim's Andrej Kramaric following Croatia's 2022 World Cup qualifying success. - Imago

What they’re saying

"He puts in crosses from every angle: sometimes chipped, sometimes drilled, sometimes flat, sometimes in behind, sometimes to the front post, other times to the back post. His left foot is a real weapon." – Stuttgart sporting director Sven Mislintat on Sosa’s strongest asset

"In every game he shows just how important he is for the team." - Stuttgart caretaker coach Michael Wimmer

"Borna has blossomed. We all knew about his huge potential - now he's delivering over 90 minutes on a consistent basis." – Former Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo