Hailing from the highly acclaimed SC Freiburg academy, Matthias Ginter’s rise to prominence both domestically and on the international stage, which recently culminated in him becoming the youngest German player to ever win the World Cup, is no mere coincidence.
From an early age the lanky centre-back demonstrated outstanding talent and a unique ability to read the game that stretched far beyond his years. Accordingly the rising star became only the second player, after Wunderkind Mario Götze, to twice win the prestigious gold Fritz-Walter Medal recognising the best player in his national team’s age group.
As early as the age of four, Ginter started playing football with SV March, and it wasn't long before the dream of becoming a professional Bundesliga player took hold, leading him to join the SC Freiburg youth set-up as an eleven-year-old. “When you play for SC in the youth teams, then of course you want to make it to the pros.”
The Freiburg native didn’t have to wait long to feature for his boyhood club. Making his debut on 21 January 2012, two days after his 18th birthday, the modest role model was brought off the bench by Christian Streich in the 70th minute of a match against Augsburg, only to net an 88th-minute winner in a 1-0 victory. “You couldn’t have dreamt it any better,” said Ginter.
Less than a season later the defensive stalwart, as strong and competitive in the air as he is in one-on-one situations, was living up the hype having established himself as a first-team regular for the Black Forest outfit. A centre-back by nature, Ginter’s versatility has proven a key facet of his style of play and seen him thrive in a variety of roles, including as a makeshift striker.
Having excelled in recent campaigns, offering a reliable foundation as Freiburg clinched UEFA Europa League qualification in 2012/13, before demonstrating great maturity during the Breisgauer’s successful battle against relegation the following season, Ginter was rewarded with a call-up to Joachim Löw’s 2014 FIFA World Cup winning side.
Ginter to the grind
Though he didn’t feature in the quadrennial football fiesta, his inclusion underlined his status as one of Germany’s most talented up-and-coming stars, which had already sparked interest from Borussia Dortmund, even before the jamboree in Brazil. Having made 81 Bundesliga appearances for Freiburg, scoring five goals, the lure of a fresh challenge with a top European side was too good to pass up.
"Today, I'm fulfilling a childhood dream," Ginter said upon the announcement of his arrival. "I was always a huge Dortmund fan and now I'm getting the chance to wear the shirt of my favourite club. I'd like to take the next step of my development in Dortmund and I'm already looking forward to the amazing atmosphere in the Signal Iduna Park and being able to be part of this wonderful team that I've only seen and heard positive things about."
2014/15 promises to be a defining season in the career of Matthias Ginter, but the sky remains the limit: “You always try to improve in every game and I hope that I still have quite a way to go”. With mental strength added to his already long list of first-class qualities, it seems that under the tutelage of talent-whisperer Jürgen Klopp, Borussia Dortmund may have just landed themselves a now not-so-hidden gem.