• Boateng voted Germany's Footballer of the Year.
  • First defender to win vote since Jürgen Kohler in 1997.
  • Won a Bundesliga and DFB Cup double with Bayern in 2015/16.

A fitting testament to his imperious displays for club and country in 2015/16, FC Bayern München and Germany centre-back Jerome Boateng has been voted Germany's Footballer of the Year by sports journalists.

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For Jerome Boateng, the road to the top of the world game has been a long one, and not without its pitfalls. Now, the FC Bayern München defensive linchpin has a personal distinction to add to his title-crammed CV: Germany's Footballer of the Year for 2016. He is, moreover, the first defender thus honoured since Borussia Dortmund's Jürgen Köhler, back in 1997.

Boateng grew up in Berlin and while he lived in a different district from his half-brothers George and Kevin-Prince, they were both formative influences on his early development as a footballer. Age 13, he swapped Tennis Borussia Berlin for the youth ranks of the capital's top club, Hertha – making his Bundesliga debut for them as an 18-year-old, in January 2007.

Boateng (l.) celebrated winning the World Cup in 2014.

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That summer he moved to Hamburger SV where, over the next three seasons, he developed impressively enough to earn his first senior call-ups for Germany. In 2010 Manchester City came calling but a year later, he was back in the Bundesliga – this time at Bayern. Gifted and athletic, Boateng took a while to shake off his reputation for making the odd alarming blunder but, at the latest since helping them to a milestone league, DFB Cup and Champions League treble in 2013, he has been an indispensable figure at the heart of the Bayern defence.

2014 brought the crowning glory of World Cup victory with Germany and by the time Euro 2016 rolled around, Boateng had taken the next logical step to becoming one of the national team's onfield leaders. On the downside, a thigh injury suffered in the semi-final loss to hosts France knocked his pre-season preparations for six and ahead of the campaign start against Werder Bremen, he is still battling back to full fitness.

Such has been his ongoing development that, just ahead of his 28th birthday, Boateng is now a serious candidate for the post of Germany captain, following Bastian Schweinsteiger's retirement from international duty – "A huge honour," for which, he says, "I'd be ready." Come what may, Jerome Boateng has long since arrived in world football's defensive elite – even if the Footballer of the Year award did come as a "surprise;" not least the vote margin of 163-95 in his favour ahead of second-place Thomas Müller, his Bayern teammate. "I can't even describe what was going through my head there," he said; "I'm just incredibly proud to have achieved something like that."

Watch: Boateng tackle our quick-fire quiz