Indeed, the left-back's route to the top as been anything but a smooth journey, as bundesliga.com reveals with some interesting tidbits about the 25-year-old.
Born in Magdeburg on 22 January 1988, Schmelzer soon got the bug for football, seizing every opportunity to have a kickabout with his brother. “If we couldn’t find a grass field, then the living room had to do,” he said. At the age of eight, he joined local club Fortuna Magdeburg, the first step on an exciting journey.
Schmelzer spent almost six years with Fortuna before moving to 1. FC Magdeburg, and on to Borussia Dortmund in 2005. “He was just an average kid, but what he did have was a massive amount of ambition,” recalls former coach Hans Sarper in the Reviersport journal. Still, he proved to be a late developer and only made his international debut at Under-21 level.
Schmelzer's first major success was with Germany U-21s at the 2009 European Championship in Sweden. Keen to keep progressing, the defender commented that he “would like to be a regular at a Bundesliga club”, shortly after that triumph. Jürgen Klopp granted him his wish at Dortmund and he hasn't looked back since, winning the Bundesliga title in 2011 and the league and cup double in 2012.
As a relatively late arrival to professional football, Schmelzer was able to complete his studies and achieved his high-school diploma in business economics: “Sport was one of my favourite subjects, but so too was maths.” Away from football and studying, he likes to wind down with hip-hop music.
Despite enjoying Jürgen Klopp's full confidence at club level, the same could not be said in the national set-up. “We don’t have any alternatives so we’re going to have to carry on with Marcel for the next three, four or five months,” Germany coach Joachim Löw said in October 2012. “I was flabbergasted,” Schmelzer later admitted in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. Undeterred, he has been unrivalled first-choice ever since.
While keeping a rigorous eye on his diet during the season, Schmelzer is just as happy as the rest of us to tuck into less-nutritional fare on occasion. A plate of chilli con carne washed down by a banana juice is his dish of choice.
Schmelzer's battling qualities and fierce independence were evident even from an early age. Disliking the tendency “that everybody in the Magdeburg youth team be called by their surnames”, the left-back altered his slightly to “Schmelle”. The nickname has stuck ever since.
Getting his first call-up to the Borussia Dortmund first team in 2008 had a flipside - he was forced to leave the club’s youth academy. “I quickly grabbed together all my belongings and went to Dortmund and slept on an airbed in my empty flat, which I had just rented because I had to move out of the academy,” he told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. On your bike!
Bowling, tennis and swimming may sound like fairly commonplace extra-curricular pastimes for a footballer, but Schmelzer is also fond of another less strenuous activity, namely Yahtzee. Not that he has needed to rely on the roll of a dice much over the course of his career...
Given Schmelzer's love of horror films - his all-time favourite is 'Blood in Blood out’ - it's hardly surprising that the prospect of facing fleet-footed wingers such as Arjen Robben and Cristiano Ronaldo does not leave him quaking in his boots.