FC Schalke 04 have unearthed dozens of big-name stars down the years, but few have made quite such an immediate impact as the frightfully nimble Leroy Sane.
After the 19-year-old announced himself on the European stage with a stunning goal in the Royal Blues' UEFA Champions League last-16 second leg win over Real Madrid CF last season, bundesliga.com did a bit of digging of its own on the latest piece of Schalke gold...
In the blood
It would appear Leroy was always destined to achieve great things, with both his mother and father decorated athletes in their own right. His Mum, Regina Weber-Sane, is Germany's only female Olympic medal-winner (bronze) in rhythmic gymnastics, while his Dad, Souleyman, used to score goals for fun for 1. FC Nürnberg and SG Wattenscheid 09 back in the 1980s. "Samy" found the net 51 times in 174 Bundesliga outings, and scored 65 in 152 appearances in the second tier.
Role models don't come much better, yet Souleyman says his son has always looked up to the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo more than anyone else. He isn't offended that Leroy doesn't own a single piece of memorabilia from his time as a pro, but there was a wry smile on his face when he told monthly German sports magazine 11 Freunde that his goal-getting heir was "shaking like a leaf" on his Champions League debut in the Spanish capital.
Faith in youth
Leroy also has two brothers - both of whom are on the books at Schalke. 20-year-old Kim plays for the Under-23s, while Sidi plies his trade for the U-12s. "Schalke rely on youth and many young players have made the step up here to the seniors - like [former Schalke star] Julian Draxler, , Donis Avdijaj and also my brother," Kim explained.
Leroy's journey began in 2001 just a stone's throw from Gelsenkirchen at his father's former haunt, Wattenscheid. Sane initially moved to Schalke in 2005, but spent three years at Bayer 04 Leverkusen between 2008-11 before being welcomed back to his Royal Blue home with open arms. "He's inherited great genes from his father," enthused Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt. "We hope that he'll follow in his footsteps."
Pen to paper
Sane Jnr continued to make steady progress through the Schalke ranks, signing his first professional contract in March 2014 - a three-year deal valid until 30 June 2017. "I'm really proud to be able to continue playing for massive club like Schalke 04," he said at the time. The powers that be were no less delighted, with Heldt referring to the man in question as "an exceptionally gifted player". Sane has since signed a contract extension, tying him down with the club until 2019.
Sane had, after all, helped take the Schalke U-19s all the way to the 2013/14 U-19 UEFA Youth League semi-finals, where the young Knappen only lost out to Spanish giants FC Barcelona. "He's shown his qualities at the highest level," Heldt enthused. "He's a massive talent who's attracted interest from plenty of other clubs, but at no point did he ever think about leaving Schalke."
Sane's unwavering commitment to the Royal Blue cause was rewarded on 20 April 2014 when he stepped off the substitutes' bench to make his Bundesliga debut in place of fellow Knappenschmiede graduate Meyer in an eventual 3-1 defeat to VfB Stuttgart. He has added plenty more senior appearances to his growing CV since then.
The young German grabbed his first Bundesliga goal on Matchday 15 of the 2014/15 campaign. Again, he was deployed as a substitute - this time in place of Austrian international Christian Fuchs - with his milestone strike coming less than ten minutes after his 74th-minute introduction, albeit in a losing effort at home to promoted side 1. FC Köln.
Sane has proved just as big a hit on the international circuit, grabbing the winning goal on his debut for Germany's U-19s in a 3-2 success over the Netherlands on 5 September 2014 in Cologne. He scored four times for Markus Sorg's multi-talented ensemble, but swiftly joined the U-21 ranks before progressing steadily to become part of Germany's senior squad at UEFA EURO 2016.
Champions League gold
It was only when Sane curled a stunning effort beyond the reach of Iker Casillas in Madrid on 10 March 2015, though, that his talent drew global acclaim. Alongside Meyer and Draxler, Sane is now the joint-youngest player in Schalke history to score at Europe's top table. It goes without saying there's plenty more where that came from. Watch this space.