Big things are expected of FC Schalke 04's latest signing Leon Goretzka
Big things are expected of FC Schalke 04's latest signing Leon Goretzka

Schalke's new rising star

Munich - Germany has certainly produced its fair share of audaciously talented footballers over the years, but one that might just usurp the lot is a man by the name of Leon Goretzka.

"World's best"

The soon-to-be FC Schalke 04 star has been labelled 'the new Michael Ballack' in some quarters, so what exactly is all the fuss about?

Born on 6 February 1995, Goretzka started out at hometown club WSV Bochum, before moving to city rivals VfL. He was just 17 when he made his professional debut for the club and has been a virtual ever-present ever since. "I have never seen an 18-year-old who has so much class and desire," exulted former Bochum sporting director Jens Todt. "The boy will be one of the world's best!" Lofty words indeed for a player who only has one season of professional football under his belt - in the second tier at that.

Yet it's not just on the domestic scene where Goretzka habitually sets tongues wagging. He has been a regular for Germany's youth sides down the years, from the U-16 level right up to his current station with the U-19s. Add to that the 2012 U-17 Gold Fritz Walter Medal - an annual award celebrating German football's most exciting talent, previously won by the likes of Mario Götze and Lars Bender - and the hype begins to make a whole lot of sense.

Indeed, for former Germany international and Bochum youth coach Darius Wosz, the hysteria surrounding Goretzka comes as little surprise. "He is an exceptional player," says Wosz. "I've not seen anyone like him at youth level. He has a clear head, he's mature. Nothing can distract him."


Goretzka himself attributes much of his success to those nearest to him. "My whole family is down to earth and helps me to stay grounded," the midfielder explained. "I try hard to remain the same person. So far, no one has said that I've changed. I play football because it's fun. I don't play to make lots of money."

Ability, modesty and humility: Goretzka is certainly heading in the right direction. At Schalke - a side that nurtured and unleashed midfield superstar Julian Draxler on the world - the Royal Blues' latest acquisition may just have found the ideal setting to really make a name for himself. Not as 'the next this' or 'new that', but as 'Leon Goretzka'.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge