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.
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.
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