Arminia Bielefeld goalkeeper Stefan Ortega has been named on standby for Germany’s UEFA Euro 2020 squad, should anything happen to Manuel Neuer, Bernd Leno or Kevin Trapp. bundesliga.com profiles one of the most unsung heroes of the 2020/21 campaign…
Club: Arminia Bielefeld
Country: Germany (uncapped)
Born in the German county of Calden to Spanish parents, Ortega has a single international call-up to his name, but was an unused substitute for Germany's U19 team in 2010. Joining Bielefeld from Hessen Kessel, he worked his way through the U17 and U19s to earn a senior debut back when the club were kicking about in Germany’s Third Division. However, despite making 24 appearances in 2011/12, he was barely involved the following campaign.
Midway through the 2013/14 campaign, Ortega finally managed to dislodge Patrick Platins, after a run of three straight defeats, to become Arminia's No1, and he conceded just 12 goals in the final 11 games of the season to help them secure a relegation play-off berth. Defeat to Darmstadt meant relegation to the Third Division, but Ortega remained in Bundesliga 2 by joining 1860 Munich.
After two seasons in Munich, and more play-off heartache, he returned to Bielefeld in 2017, and he has only missed three league games since. His contribution to the East Westphalians' promotion-winning campaign was considerable, with a division-best 30 goals conceded in 34 games, including 14 clean sheets.
Finally in the big time, Ortega proved to be almost as unbeatable as he had been at a lower level, keeping 11 shut-outs during his debut Bundesliga campaign. He also boasted the third-best save ratio (69.9 per cent), and as if his shot-stopping was not impressive enough, he also provided the assist for Bielefeld's first goal back in the big time, from one of his league-leading haul of passes for a goalkeeper.
Plays a bit like: Keylor Navas
Ortega is unique in the Bundesliga for being a sub-6’1” keeper with the abilities to cover every angle of his goal frame. The same height and with the self-same jungle cat reactions, Paris Saint-Germain’s Keylor Navas provides a handy reference point.
There are also shades of current Germany goalkeeping coach Andreas Köpke - Die Mannschaft's No.1 when they last won the Euros in 1996 - who might well have been reminded of himself when recommending Joachim Löw move him up the queue of potential stoppers.
Did you know?
Despite being Arminia’s key man, Ortega admits he would consider a move to Bayern Munch - even if it meant playing second fiddle to Neuer. Responding to rumours in the German press linking him with the record champions, he said: "I’d definitely think about it. At the end of the day, you only have one career. If I went to Munich, I'd have the chance to win titles and play in the Champions League. I might even play a few games."
Watch: Stefan Ortega's top 5 Bundesliga saves
What they’re saying
"He’s more like an outfield player." - former Werder Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt