Julian Green may only be in the early days of his career, but he has already been the subject of a transatlantic tug-of-war. As a German-American, born in Tampa, Florida, but raised in Munich from the age of two, he was sought after by both the United States national team and its German counterpart. It is quite easy to see why: his talent is truly precocious.
'Very good, Julian'
FC Bayern München Sporting Director Matthias Sammer described the attacker, who sees his job as "scoring goals", as "a huge talent” after the youngster pledged his future to the record German champions in November 2013 with a long-term professional contract. Germany legend, current US coach and former Bayern boss Jürgen Klinsmann enthused that he was a “tremendous talent”. Indeed, Green’s scoring record invites such lofty praise.
At a mere 17 years of age, Green hit ten goals for FC Bayern’s U-19 side in the 2012/13 season, as well as picking up six assists with his pacey, intelligent footballing style. Such performances caught the eye of Bayern reserve team coach Erik ten Haag, whose decision to promote Green ahead of the 2013/14 campaign was vindicated instantly. In his first 18 games in Bavaria’s regional leagues, he scored 15 goals and picked up six assists - but perhaps even more impressive was his hat-trick in Pep Guardiola’s first game in charge of Bayern, which ended in a 15-1 win against Wildenau.
“I got a short ‘very good, Julian’ from Guardiola after one training session,” Green confessed. The Catalan’s understated praise was turned into something far more tangible and meaningful on 27 November 2013 when Green was brought off the bench in the 88th minute to make his UEFA Champions League and full FC Bayern debut in a 3-1 away win against PFC CSKA Moskva. “This feeling is beyond description,” he told German magazine Kicker after the game. “I have given it my all and I think it went alright.”
It must have done, as three days later Green was on the bench in the Bundesliga for the first time, on Matchday 14 of the 2013/14 season against Eintracht Braunschweig at a mere 18 years of age - no mean feat in a quadruple-winning squad. Ten Haag, who presided over part of Green’s meteoric rise to fully-fledged professional footballer, is completely confident that “Green has what it takes to fight his way into the first team”.
With Green’s talent, there is no reason to believe that assertion will not be accurate, and he took another step closer to stardom at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Having opted to represent the USA, despite featuring for Germany at U-15, U-16, U-17 and U-19 level, Green marked his World Cup debut with a goal, making him the youngest ever marksman in US Soccer history. "It's fun to watch that kid grow," enthused US coach Klinsmann, delighted to have won one transatlantic tug-of-war.
As has been the case with many a Bayern star, however, a spell at another Bundesliga club has been deemed a vital part of their development. Philipp Lahm went to Stuttgart, Toni Kroos joined Bayer Leverkusen and David Alaba excelled at Hoffenheim. For Green, Hamburg was the destination in the summer of 2014.
He returns to Bayern in 2015 enriched by a new experience and more match practice than he was likely to get in Munich, and ready to fulfil his dream of making it in the Bundesliga, preferably with the record champions.