When Germany coach Joachim Löw announced his squad for UEFA Euro 2020, one name may not have been all that familiar to many, with Freiburg full-back Christian Günter featuring for the first time since 2014.
bundesliga.com fills in the blanks on a man who could well play a key role in Germany's push for European glory this summer…
Position: Left wing-back
Country: Germany (1 cap)
Günter is Freiburg through and through. At the age of 13, he first joined the Baden-Württemberg club's youth academy, travelling the 65km (40.3 miles) from his family home of Tennenbronn in the heart of the Black Forest almost every day for training.
Having risen through the ranks, despite not residing in the club's academy, but continuing to commute from his family home, his future in the game appeared to be in jeopardy when he was hardly given a look-in for the U17s, despite being one of their more senior players. He nevertheless kept at it and finally became a regular in his second season at U17 level.
Current Freiburg head coach Christian Streich gave him the break he was looking for while he was still in charge of the U19s and, after two strong seasons at that level, he was promoted to Freiburg's reserves, with whom he made 10 appearances in 2012/13. Streich, who took over the reins of the Freiburg first team in January 2012, remembered him well from his youth days and handed him his Bundesliga debut in a 1-0 win over Greuther Fürth later that year.
Two years later, Günter made his Germany debut, picking up his one and hitherto only cap for his country with an eight-minute appearance in a goalless draw with Poland. Having missed just six games in the past seven seasons, Günter now has over 230 Bundesliga appearances under his belt and, since the summer of 2020, has worn Freiburg's captain's armband. Now, he is back in the Germany set-up for Euro 2020.
Plays a bit like: Christian Ziege
A Euro '96 winner, Christian Ziege was 24 and entering his prime when he delivered the cross which led to current Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff forcing extra-time in that final against the Czech Republic.
Watch: Günter's brace against Schalke this season!
A left wing-back with an eye for goal and a venomous shot that nobody would have liked to get in between, Ziege was quite a rarity at the time for his willingness to do as much work attacking as he did defending, whipping in crosses from out wide before bursting back to make a lunging tackle.
That is what a modern-day wing-back is expected to do, and Günter fills the Ziege mould, and will be more than happy to replicate his European Championship glory this summer.
Did you know?
At the age of 16, Günter's parents ensured he kept all of his options open - including the one of not making it as a professional football - by encouraging him to enrol for an engineering course in nearby Sankt Georgen.
Had he not made it in football, his A-grade result in industrial engineering gave him good prospects for a career in manufacturing machinery parts. Fortunately for him, he is instead manufacturing chances for his teammates with his wicked left foot.
What they're saying
"Christian's development keeps on getting better, also in the way that he presents himself on the field, while he's also really developed physically and has become more accomplished on the ball" - Freiburg coach Christian Streich
"When I see the way Christian Günter runs up and down the left side of the field, winning his tackles defensively and then switching straight into attack mode and delivers decisive crosses and passes, then I've got to say he's doing a great job." - Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick
"I can't put it into words: I was so surprised and delighted [to be called up for Euro 2020]. I'm really looking forward to it. I'll never forget it in all my life. Every kid dreams of this - I played one game [for Germany] already, and that was an incredible experience, but this is the crown on top; to play for your country at a major tournament - it's incredible." - Christian Günter
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