bundesliga

Who is Youssoufa Moukoko, Borussia Dortmund's prodigious 16-year-old striker?

Youssoufa Moukoko has become the youngest UEFA Champions League player of all time, a matter of days after breaking the same record in the Bundesliga, but what else is there to know about Borussia Dortmund's free-scoring young striker?

Youssoufa Moukoko

Age: 16
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Striker
Country: Germany (U20 cap)/Cameroon

Moukoko's low centre of gravity, fleet of foot and speed of mind has helped him to a record goal haul for Dortmund youth teams. - imago images / Thomas Zimmermann

Key stats

Born in Yaoundé in November 2004, Moukoko spent the first 10 years of his life living with his grandparents in Cameroon's capital city before joining his father, a German citizen since the 1990s, in Hamburg in the summer of 2014.

The young Youssoufa soon started playing in the youth academy of local Kult club St Pauli and wasted little time in displaying his incredible goalscoring prowess. Over the course of two seasons, Moukoko plundered 23 goals in just 13 games for die Kiezkicker's underage teams and it wasn't long until Dortmund came calling.

His progress with Die Schwarzgelben in the nearly four years since has been astronomical. Moukoko first played with BVB's U17s aged 13, their U19s aged 14, and after a total of 127 goals and 26 assists in just 84 appearances in all competitions for BVB at youth level, was first promoted to first-team training in January 2020, some 11 months before his 16th birthday. He scored 13 goals in four U19 games whilst waiting to be eligible for his full debut(s).

The Bundesliga's youngest ever debutant when he replaced four-goal Erling Haaland in BVB's Matchday 8 5-2 thrashing of Hertha Berlin just a day after turning 16, Moukoko run-out against Zenit Saint Petersburg made him the Champions League's youngest player too, at 16 years and 19 days of age.

Watch: Moukoko makes Bundesliga history

Moukoko has represented Germany internationally, already gaining two U20 caps after scoring three goals in four appearances for Michael Feichtenbeiner's U16s. In continental competition, meanwhile, he previosuly became the youngest player ever to feature in the UEFA Youth League when he took to the field for Dortmund's 2-1 win over Barcelona in September 2019 at the tender age of 14 years, nine months and 29 days.

Further records were only a matter of time for Moukoko after the DFL reduced the age that a player could legally make his Bundesliga debut without special dispensation to 16 in April last year. He became the league's youngest ever scorer when he found the net against Union Berlin on Matchday 13 in December 2020, making him almost a year younger than previous incumbent Florian Wirtz on his first goal.

Plays a bit like: Lionel Messi

Whilst bundesliga.com would like to urge caution in comparing any player to Messi - a six-time Ballon d'Or winner who has revolutionised the sport - there are some parallels which are difficult to ignore.

Often players playing up an age group or four are physical specimens, fortunate to have evolved into manhood ahead of most of their peers. But whilst Moukoko is by no means lacking in strength or speed, reducing his incredible goal-haul simply to those factors would be lazy journalism at best.

Having only recently hit 5'10" in height, the majority of defenders Moukoko has lined up against have towered over him throughout his career to date. Instead, Moukoko uses his low centre of gravity, sharp control and impressive game awareness to make and take chances. He also has a deft touch with his favoured left foot and is ice cold in front of goal.

It is maybe once or twice in a generation that a player posts numbers like 141 goals in 88 youth games, and perhaps nobody not called Cristiano Ronaldo will ever get close to Messi, but the early signs are extremely promising for Moukoko.

Did you know? 

Youssoufa is not the only footballer in the family. Elder brother Borel, 20, is a left-back who was most recently on trial with fifth-tier Schwarz-Weiß Essen having turned out for them twice before a groin injury earlier this year.

Moukoko's brother Borel is an aspiring left-back who thinks the hype around Youssoufa is justified. - RevierSport

"If the talent runs in the family he should become an interesting footballer," coach Ralf vom Dorp told Essen sports magazine RevierSport. It's a challenge Borel could be up to - kicking around against a young Youssoufa whilst growing up in Hamburg can't have been too easy a ride!

"He's the wonder everyone thinks he is," the elder sibling explained with a smile.

What they're saying

"I want to become a professional with Dortmund, win the UEFA Champions League with the club, and win the Ballon d'Or." - Moukoko on his aims in the game

"He's so young and already so good. The boy will one day become a professional, that's as sure as a prayer in the church. Only injuries can stop him. He's got very good technique, speed, and finishes well. These are three strong qualities that come together." - BVB U19 coach Michael Skibbe.

Moukoko (l.) is hoping to come into focus alongside Erling Haaland (r.) for Dortmund this season. - imago images / Kirchner-Media

"We're very happy. It immediately helps the clubs, and also the young players in their development. Most clubs now want to give young, exceptionally talented players the chance to take the next step in absolutely exceptional cases." - Dortmund youth coordinator Lars Ricken following the DFL's ruling in April.

"Moukoko's much better than I was at his age. I've never seen such a good 15-year-old in my life. The advantage for him is that he's already playing for Dortmund at the age of 15. At his age, I was still playing for my home town of Bryne." - Haaland, at Dortmund's pre-season camp in Switzerland