Mats Hummels was living the dream of many a German footballer when he signed up as a professional with FC Bayern München. However, it was with Borussia Dortmund that his career was destined to take off, doing so in meteoric fashion - with back-to-back Bundesliga titles, victory in the DFB Cup and triumph on the biggest footballing stage of them all.
Move home catalyst for success
Born in the North Rhine-Westphalian town of Bergisch-Gladbach, Hummels' route to Bayern followed that of his father, who became youth team coach with the German record champions in 1995. Having been helped onto the first rung of the footballing ladder by his dad at the age of six, he progressed through the youth ranks, trading in his original aspirations to be a forward for a place in the centre of defence along the way. He was given his first professional contract in 2007 and made his debut on the final day of the 2006/07 Bundesliga season in a 5-2 win against Mainz.
The athletic centre-back was subsequently unable to break into the Bayern first team, but a return to his Westphalian roots turned out to be a career-defining move. Hummels initially joined Borussia Dortmund on an 18-month loan deal in January 2008, but such was his progress under BVB's new coach Jürgen Klopp that he was soon a mainstay in the squad, and the club bought him outright in February 2009.
Alongside Neven Subotic he became half of the youngest-ever central defensive pairing in the Bundesliga and Germany coach Joachim Löw took due note, handing him his senior debut in 2010. The medals for two Bundesliga titles, as well as victories in the DFB Cup and U-21 European Championships already adorn the young defender's trophy cabinet. He almost added a Champions League winners' medal to that collection in 2013, but Hummels and Co. were narrowly defeated by his former club Bayern at Wembley.
Another successful season followed, in which the playmaking centre-back underlined his status as Borussia's Mr. Indispensible during a campaign in which they once again finished second best behind Bayern in both the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup. However, he made up for that disappointment by winning the prize that every footballer craves most - the 2014 FIFA World Cup - scoring twice and gaining a place in the team of the tournament as Germany were crowned world champions for a fourth time. He was made captain of die Schwarz-Gelben at the beginning of the 2014/15 season.