Petr Jiracek was relatively unknown outside of his native Czech Republic when he signed for VfL Wolfsburg in December 2011.
Hungry at Wolves
Prior to moving to Germany, he spent the first decade of his career at Banik Sokolov before joining Czech first division side Viktoria Plzen in 2008. There he won the Czech cup, the Supercup and was instrumental in helping them to their first ever league championship in 2010/11.
An all-round talent, Jiracek is comfortable both as a holding midfielder as well as in a more attacking role. He has a keen eye for goal and found the net eleven times in his 100 appearances for Plzen.
Jiracek was immediately thrust into the action at Wolfsburg and after making his Bundesliga bow in January 2012 against 1. FC Köln, the deceptively quick left-footer hit a brace on his fourth appearance as the Wolves downed SC Freiburg 3-2 on Matchday 21.
Stable at Hamburg
He carried his club form into UEFA EURO 2012, where he scored twice (against Poland and Greece) to help his country into the quarter-finals. Now a mainstay in the Czech team, his progress internationally has been remarkably rapid, having only made his senior debut in September 2011 against Scotland.
However, with first-team opportunities seemingly at a premium under the Wolves' then-head coach Felix Magath coming into the 50th Bundesliga campaign, Jiracek opted to join Hamburger SV in the summer of 2012. His first season at Hamburg encountered similar bumps in the road, but his mere thirteen appearances for the Bundesliga ever-presents were enough to convince successive coaches that he was the midfield man to bring stability. He then started all but one of Hamburg's first eight games at the start of 2013/14 after benefitting from some summer calm.