Two-footed, flexible and blessed with a devastating turn of pace, it is hardly surprising that Fabian Johnson was one of the first names on the list of new recruits for USA coach Jürgen Klinsmann in his efforts to overhaul the American national team.
Something of a late bloomer, it is only in recent years the Johnson has established himself as an elite-level Bundesliga performer, able to play on either flank both in midfield and in defence.
Born and raised in Munich to a German mother and American serviceman father, Johnson cut his teeth in the professional game at 1860 Munich. His displays there caught the eye of VfL Wolfsburg, who snapped him up in 2009, but Johnson struggled to make an impact at the Wolves and joined 1899 Hoffenheim two years later.
It was there that his career truly began to take off, with his defensive solidity and eagerness to get forward dovetailing perfectly with the club’s own attacking philosophy. “I want to help create; I really like to get forward,” he told FIFA.com. “But I can do the things in defence too. I can break up plays and keep things tight if I need to.” Having amassed over 100 Bundesliga appearances it is clear he is able to balance both aspects of his game, an ability that moved Borussia Mönchengladbach to secure his signature in time for the 2014/15 season.
Johnson represented Germany at various youth levels and was part of the country’s triumphant team at the 2009 European Championship alongside Manuel Neuer, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng. However, when the call to represent his father’s homeland came from Klinsmann, who described him as “one of the best wide players in the Bundesliga”, Johnson had no hesitation in agreeing.
He made his senior debut for the Stars and Stripes in a friendly against France on 11 November 2011 and has been a mainstay of the side ever since. Johnson scored his maiden international goal against Turkey in 2014 and is part of the 23-man USA squad at the World Cup in Brazil.