The autumnal chill in Germany may not be what he is used to in his homeland, but Stuttgart's Congolese midfielder Chadrac Akolo is not letting adverse weather conditions dampen his maiden Bundesliga season.
He netted his fourth goal of the season with the opener in a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 12, helping cement his growing reputation as a fan favourite.
On Matchday 8, Akolo also sent the VfB faithful into raptures with a last-gasp winner at home to Cologne, helping the Swabians to a third victory of the season with his third goal in just six top-flight outings. It was even more warming to a man who, while kicking a ball around the streets of Kintambo as a teenager, would never have thought he would one day be regaling such ranks.
Talk about leaving it to the last minute! @chadrac_akolo_19 nets in the 95th minute to secure @vfb the first 3 points Matchday 8 has to offer. . #VFB #vfbstuttgart #stuttgart #vfbinsta #Bundesliga #Football #Soccer #Germany #fussball #futbol #goals #lovefootball #thebeautifulgame #instasport #team #soccerislife #footy #skills #matchday #player #match #footballgame #ball
"It's crazy, how quickly things have gone," said the 22-year-old during pre-season to the Stuttgarter Nachrichten. It has been barely eight years, in fact, since Akolo arrived in Europe as a 14-year-old with his father.
They braved a perilous journey across the Mediterranean, following Akolo's mother and sister, who had already fled the war-torn country. After being reunited in a refugees' home in Switzerland, he once again picked up his passion and was soon spotted by Swiss Super League club Sion. His performances there caught Stuttgart's eye, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Or rather, the present. Akolo has started eight of Stuttgart's Bundesliga fixtures this season and he has already demonstrated a knack for scoring important goals. His first levelled the score at 1-1 away to Schalke on Matchday 3, while his second sealed a 1-0 win over Wolfsburg on Matchday 4 to earn Stuttgart their second victory. His match-winning strike against Cologne was no less important.
Watch: Chadrac's winner against Wolfsburg
"I'm proud of the way we've played," said a Stuttgart coach Hannes Wolf earlier this season. "We know we have to give it 100 per cent in all areas, and the team's doing that."
One man in particular is doing just that, even if nothing less than total effort can be expected from Stuttgart's number 19, who picked his shirt number to match the day of the month his sister was born.
His journey into the Bundesliga may have been a long and arduous one, but now that he has arrived, Akolo already looks like he is here to stay.
Watch: Stuttgart's conveyor belt of stars