Nico Schlotterbeck will feature for Germany at UEFA Euro 2024. - © IMAGO/Frey-Pressebild/Deines
Nico Schlotterbeck will feature for Germany at UEFA Euro 2024. - © IMAGO/Frey-Pressebild/Deines

Nico Schlotterbeck: Who is the Borussia Dortmund and Germany centre-back?


Nico Schlotterbeck is in Julian Nagelsmann's Germany squad for UEFA Euro 2024 and will soon play in his first UEFA Champions League final, but who exactly is the towering Borussia Dortmund defender? has the lowdown...

Nico Schlotterbeck

Age: 24
Borussia Dortmund
Germany (11 caps)

Key stats

Schlotterbeck was born in Waiblingen, just outside of Stuttgart, but never actually played for local giants VfB. Instead he came through the youth academy of former Bundesliga club Stuttgarter Kickers up to U15 level. He slowly moved further from home, spending a year in the academy at VfR Aalen before joining Karlsruhe in 2015. He was three months shy of his 16th birthday when handed his debut in the U17 Bundesliga, and not even 17 when he stepped up to the U19 division in 2016/17. It was during that season that the emerging centre-back earned his first international call-up for Meikel Schönweitz's U18s in a 3-0 win over Austria.

A summer 2017 move to Freiburg followed, where he lifted the U19 DFB Cup in his debut campaign. The 6'2" defender was immediately promoted to the reserves in the fourth tier after that, but would also make his Bundesliga debut in the same 2018/19 season as a half-time substitute for Philipp Lienhart on Matchday 25 against Hertha Berlin. He'd be handed his first senior start only four games later away at Werder Bremen and would again play 90 minutes two weeks on against RB Leipzig. He was promoted to the first team full time in 2019/20 but was sent out on loan to Union Berlin in 2020/21 to gain senior match practice. He scored on his Bundesliga debut for the club, and would go on to become one of Die Eisernen’s first-choice centre-backs as they ultimately qualified for the UEFA Europa Conference League in seventh place.

Nico Schlotterbeck starred at Union Berlin on loan in 2020/21. - O.Behrendt via

That form earned him a place in Stefan Kuntz's UEFA Euro U21 squad in 2021, playing every single minute as Germany lifted the title. Back at Freiburg, he became a constant at centre-back and helped the team claim third place at the end of the 2021/22 Hinrunde. Key to that was their defensive record that was equal-best in the league alongside Bayern Munich (17 goals conceded) and Schlotterbeck ranked third-highest league-wide for most won challenges (199) after 17 matches. Despite the heartbreaking penalty shootout defeat to RB Leipzig in the final the 2022 DFB Cup final the centre-back, who is adept at playing in a back three and a back four, made the switch to Signal Iduna Park. 

There have been some inconsistencies in his first couple of seasons at Dortmund, while his poor display against Japan at the World Cup in 2022 suggested he wasn't quite ready for a starring role internationally. However, he has been a key member of the team as they reached the Champions League final, and his resurgence has seen him called up for a Germany squad for the first time since September 2023.

Plays a bit like: Mats Hummels

Schlotterbeck has 13 senior goals, which included a stunning strike against Union Berlin in October 2023, and proved at youth level that he has an eye for a strike, having scored 14 times across two seasons in the U19 Bundesliga. It's that presence in the box - both penalty areas for that matter - that has become a hallmark of teammate Hummels' illustrious career with Dortmund, Bayern and also Germany, having won the FIFA World Cup in 2014.

Watch: Schlotterbeck and Hummels shut out Bayern

Both have proven themselves adept playing in three or four-man defences, stepping out when needed as a demonstration of their reading of the game and timing, and have built up a formidable understanding together under Edin Terzić at Dortmund. 

Did you know?

Nico is not the only Schlotterbeck plying his trade in the Bundesliga or to have spent a season on loan at Union. Brother Keven - three years his senior - was in Berlin for the 2019/20 campaign, where he established himself after breaking through at Freiburg in the second half of the previous year. By the time Nico was spending a year at the Stadion an der Alten Försterei, Keven was back at Freiburg.

While Nico was at the U21 Euros over the summer, Keven was with the Olympic squad at Tokyo 2020. The latter has spent the 2023/24 season on loan at VfL Bochum, finding the back of the net five times in the top flight and continuing to set a strong example for his younger sibling.

“Come closer brother” – Nico (l.) and older brother Keven (r.) have played with and against each other down the years. - Matthias Koch via images/Matthias Koch

What they're saying

"Left-footed, a player you obviously want to see playing at centre-back but is also very versatile and can play in different positions. He can play in a back three but also, because of his footballing quality, can play in midfield." - Hansi Flick on giving Schlotterbeck his maiden senior call-up

“It's positive that he's with Germany because he can learn a lot... and if he continues like this, he will surely persevere and get the reward. I’m very happy with him.” - Freiburg coach Christian Streich on Schlotterbeck’s call-up

"Nico's journey reminds me of my own, coming as a young Germany international from Freiburg to BVB. I hope Dortmund becomes as much a home for him as it did for me. Nico has huge potential. He's chosen by no means the financially best offer from numerous interested clubs, but chose BVB to develop here." - Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl upon Schlotterbeck's signing

"He is a great player, very good in tackling and strong in heading. He’s probably one of the best centre-backs in terms of ball-playing skills, not just in Germany, but in all of Europe. I really hope he can finally take the next step now." Former Germany international Dietmar Hamann following Schlotterbeck's strong display against Newcastle United in the Champions League in October 2023.