It took a word of warning from Jürgen Klinsmann to help turn Bobby Wood into a Bundesliga player. Now with Hamburg, the USA international may take one step backwards to take two steps forward over the summer.
bundesliga.com has picked out ten facts about the USMNT striker, who has become a potent force for club and country.
1) In the name
Born in Hawaii to an African-American father and Japanese mother, Wood's full name is Bobby Shou Wood. His middle name means 'longevity' in Chinese, and though he dropped its use early in his professional career, the striker's journey so far suggests that the meaning still resonates with him.
Watch: Wood's Top 5 Bundesliga Goals!
Wood's ambition was evident from an early age. He joined local Hawaiian outfit Powder Edge SC aged six, before moving to California at the still-tender age of 12. A move 6,000 kilometres away to Germany and TSV 1860 Munich's youth academy followed two years later. Wood did not speak a word of German, and struggled initially. "It was tough being away from home… not as laid back and friendly as California," he said. "I think the experience definitely made me stronger."
After four years in the 1860 first team, Wood joined Union Berlin and concluded the 2015/16 season with 17 goals as Union finished sixth in Bundesliga 2, earning himself a summer transfer to what was then the Bundesliga's only ever-present club, Hamburg. Wood's goal haul took him past former Borussia Dortmund and 1. FSV Mainz 05 striker Conor Casey as the highest-scoring American in a single season in Germany's top two divisions.
Despite being immersed in German football since the age of 14, Wood's favourite team growing up was Arsenal FC, and their talisman Thierry Henry his sporting idol. "I can dribble left and right and get in behind the defence," Wood says of his own game.
5) Dodgers fan
Outside of football, Wood is an avid fan of other, more traditional, American sports. Wood enjoys bodysurfing in his native California, plays basketball in his spare time, and once even threw the first pitch after enjoying a stadium tour of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers' home venue.
6) Hawaiian pride
Wood made his USA debut in a 4-3 friendly win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Sarajevo in August 2013, becoming just the second man from the 50th and most recent US state to run out for the USMNT after Brian Ching, and the third player to represent the nation outright, following the USWNT's Olympic gold medallist Tasha Kai.
7) There when Uncle Sam needs him
For most of his international career, Wood has averaged a goal every three games for his country. That’s an impressive ratio, all the more so when you consider he has hit the target against some big opponents. Wood's first international goal was the winner in a 4-3 friendly victory over the Netherlands in Amsterdam June 2015, and he sealed a 2-1 triumph over world champions Germany in Cologne five days later. Wood also netted five times during the USMNT’s failed bid to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
It could have worked out so differently. Wood had scored just six goals in 63 games in his first six Bundesliga 2 campaigns with 1860 and FC Erzgebirge Aue before he got a stern word from then US coach Jürgen Klinsmann. "You've got to make it this year, otherwise they're going to move you on," Klinsmann told the young forward. "That's how it works in Europe. At the age of 21, 22, you're an old player." Wood heeded the advice. "What he said to me was the truth; it wasn't a threat… but I'm where I am now because I worked hard to get here."
9) Place in history
When he signed for Hamburg in the summer of 2016, Wood became the sixth US player to turn out for the Red Shorts: Peter Woodring, Michael Mason, Benny Feilhaber and current Stuttgart player Julian Green have also represented HSV since Hungary-born Andy Mate became the first American to play in Germany's top flight back in the 1964/65 season. The 25-year-old announced his arrival the club in some style, too, scoring on his debut and with his first shot in the Bundesliga during a 1-1 draw with Ingolstadt. He leaves after scoring seven goals in 52 top-flight games.
Wood enjoys close friendships with USMNT teammates DeAndre Yedlin and John Anthony Brooks. Wolfsburg stalwart Brooks and Wood overlapped for one year in the German capital when the former was still a Hertha Berlin player. In 2016, all three attended the NBA's Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder together.