Cologne’s Salih Özcan and Hamburg’s Jann-Fiete Arp have both been awarded with the prestigious gold Fritz Walter Medal for young German players. The German Football Association (DFB) honoured the youngsters at U19 and U17 level respectively.
Germany U19 captain Özcan made ten Bundesliga appearances for Cologne last season and has been named the best German player at U19 level ahead of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Aymen Barkok and Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Gökhan Gül.
Hamburg’s rising star Arp was awarded the honour at U17 level. The 17-year-old recently signed a contract with HSV until 2019 having been with the club since the age of 11. This summer he scored seven goals in five matches for Germany at the UEFA European U17 Championship in Croatia. He beat Werder Bremen’s Manuel Mbom and Bayern Munich’s Lukas Mai to the award.
Named in honour of West Germany’s 1954 World Cup-winning captain, the Fritz Walter Medal is seen as the highest accolade for players in German youth football (U19 and U17, also previously U18) and has been awarded to some star names in the past.
World Cup winners Toni Kroos (2008) and Mario Götze (2009 and 2010) are just two of the biggest names to win the gold medal in their age group down the years. Current Bundesliga first-team players Benjamin Henrichs (2016), Jonathan Tah (2015), Felix Passlack (2015), Julian Brandt (2014), Niklas Stark (2014), Matthias Ginter (2013, 2012), Timo Werner (2013), Timo Horn (2010), Lewis Holtby (2009), Benedikt Höwedes (2007) and Lars Bender (2006) have all also been honoured with the gold medal since its introduction in 2005.