A highly promising prospect at youth level for hometown club Hamburger SV and Germany, Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting has overcome early career setbacks to rise to Bundesliga stardom with FC Schalke 04 and, on the international stage, for Cameroon.
Mainz move makes the difference
Arriving at HSV from smaller city rivals FC St. Pauli at the age of 15, Choupo-Moting penned his first professional contract three years later, in May 2007. A few months down the line, shortly after making his Bundesliga debut for the Red Shorts, he was awarded a silver Fritz-Walter medal as the year's second-best U-18 player behind Mönchengladbach's Marko Marin. First-team action would, however, remain thin on the ground for the all-round attacking talent over the next couple of seasons and in 2009, he moved to 1. FC Nürnberg on loan.
A solid season with der Club was followed by a less happy one at Hamburg where, after a faulty fax machine scuppered a proposed loan deal to 1. FC Köln, he spent the second half of the campaign in the reserves. A free transfer to Mainz in the summer of 2011 would revitalise Choupo-Moting's fortunes and he finished his first season at FSV as top scorer, on ten goals.
The following year was altogether less rewarding, as two successive injuries to the left knee restricted him to a handful of starting appearances. Back to match fitness in time for the start of 2013/14, however, he was soon firing on all cylinders again. His ten goals and three assists in 32 appearances (19 from the start) helped propel Mainz to a surprise seventh-place finish, earning them a shot at the qualifying rounds of the UEFA Europa League and catching the eye of Schalke, who secured his services going into the 2014/15 campaign.
A Germany international at every level from U-18 to U-21, Choupo-Moting switched allegiance to his father's birth country ahead of the FIFA 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa. Four years later in Brazil, he was once again at the start for Cameroon – by now a firm fixture in the Indomitable Lions' forward department.