Cologne - It is a rare thing that a player is cheered by both sets of supporters as he is being substituted, and rarer still for a 19-year-old rookie to be given such a reception.
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud has enjoyed a sensational run in the first team in recent weeks, and his display in the Foals’ 5-1 success away at Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend was arguably his best performance of the season. The Frankfurt fans appeared to concur, in any case, clapping him off the field, despite his having tormented their team with two assists and a goal.
A Schubert favourite
Dahoud had long been talked about as one of the next big things in the Gladbach youth ranks for a number of months before eventually breaking into the side this season following his first-team debut in April. Indeed, Lucien Favre evidently rated him highly, starting him in Matchday 5’s 1-0 defeat to 1. FC Köln after bringing him off the bench in the first four matches of the campaign.
Favre’s subsequent resignation shocked the club to its core, but Dahoud need not have feared for his place in the squad. With Andre Schubert taking over as caretaker coach – a man who had seen the Syrian-born midfielder's talents close up in the Under-23 side – the youngster had another trusted admirer picking the side.
From strength to strength
Since Schubert’s arrival, the Foals have won four straight matches in the league beginning with a 4-2 win over FC Augsburg – in which Dahoud bagged his first Bundesliga goal – with an unfortunate home reverse to Manchester City FC in the UEFA Champions League the only blot on the coach's copybook so far.
Dahoud has started every game in that time, convincing in every one of them. Up next for Borussia is a daunting task away to last season’s Champions League runners-up Juventus on Wednesday, but there seems little doubt he will keep his place in the side. “He’s doing a good job at the moment,” said Schubert with more than a hint of understatement of the man voted by the fans as Gladbach's player of the month for September.
No letting up
As for the young man himself, he is refusing to let his achievements thus far go to his head. “I’m not taking my foot off the pedal and thinking I’m now a first-team regular,” he says modestly. “I prepare myself with the mindset that things will get harder, and if they do, I’ll fight my way through it again.”
His reputation for being a grounded young man was strengthened further at the weekend, when he admitted at being to shy to lead the 5,000 travelling fans in celebratory song at full time. "Doing something like that in front of so many people is total new to me," he said. "I'd rather leave that to others."