Munich - He is the last line of defence for the team who swept all before them in 2012/13 and he is widely acknowledged as one of the best goalkeepers in the world: FC Bayern München's Manuel Neuer.

Germany's first ever treble winners conceded a grand total of 40 Bundesliga goals in the first two seasons the 27-year-old Gelsenkirchen native spent on the books with them, as a virtual ever-present.

As familiar now to fans of the game around the world as he is to those in Germany, Neuer is a professional footballer whose vision of life, based on his own upbringing, certainly extends beyond the football pitch. Here are just a few things you may not have known about the Germany No1...

A true son of the Pott, Manuel Neuer was just shy of his fifth birthday when he first 'signed up' for Schalke 04's Bambinis programme - inspired, perhaps, by the fact that he could see his hometown club's stadium from the attic window of his house in Gelsenkirchen-Buer.

Young Neuer's attachment to sport was by no means limited to football. As well as learning to ski, he also played tennis at club level parallel to training with Schalke through to the age of 14. Three-time Wimbledon singles champion Boris Becker was an early role-model, and the Germany No1 still enjoys picking up a racquet in his spare time.

Football it was destined to be, though, and as he progressed through the Royal Blue youth ranks, Neuer was soon making his mark on the wider stage. In 2005, he received the German FA's (DFB) inaugural Fritz-Walter silver medal in the U-19 category, awarded to the year's outstanding prospects. Former FC Bayern man Florian Müller pipped him to gold, incidentally.

Neuer made his Bundesliga debut on 19 August 2006, stepping in for the injured Frank Rost and promptly keeping a clean sheet in a 1-0 win at Alemannia Aachen. The 20-year-old newcomer's apparent imperturbability was duly noted in the press as well - to which he responded, "I was actually incredibly nervous - guess I fooled everyone!"

From there on in, his progress was positively meteoric. Schalke's established No1 within months, Neuer went on to add a further 18 clean sheets to that opener as the Knappen ended the season runners-up in the Bundesliga. The top flight's youngest keeper, already noted for his ability to initiate quick counterattacks with his accurate throw-outs, was voted best keeper of 2006/07.

The following three seasons saw Neuer continue his rise to the top, interrupted only by a first lengthy spell on the sidelines due to a metatarsal fracture in 2008/09. The following year, he shone as Germany's new first choice stopper at the World Cup finals in South Africa and his reputation went global. 2010/11 would prove to be his last season with Schalke, however, as FC Bayern came calling...

It was by no means the smoothest of transitions, with a minority of Schalke fans giving public vent to their disapproval of a lifelong Royal Blue signing up for Germany's most powerful club. In Munich, as well, a small section of the support seemed dead set against the move. The vast majority, however, were delighted at the prospect of having Neuer between the posts...

...as well they might. In his first season in Munich, the new keeper was the last line of a defence that conceded a mere 22 goals in 34 league outings. It was, nonetheless, an anticlimactic campaign as the team finished second on three fronts. Their response in 2012/13 is now a matter of record - on which subject, 18 goals against and 21 clean sheets, the vast bulk of them Neuer's, are now the new Bundesliga gold standard.

Facing penalties is part of the goalkeeper's thankless lot and Manuel Neuer has done so with no little success. Alongside the five he has stopped to date in the Bundesliga - here against Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski - he memorably kept three out at Real Madrid CF to help Bayern through to the 2012 Champions League final. There, of course, they lost to Chelsea - on penalties.

That he's not the type to forget where he comes from is made abundantly clear by the work of the Manuel Neuer Kids Foundation. In a nutshell, as he puts it himself, "I want to give back to disadvantaged children in my home region something of what I was lucky enough to have in my own youth: opportunities and prospects in life."


Compiled by Angus Davison