The Bundesliga is a breeding ground for talent, with many superstars gaining their stripes in Germany before flourishing elsewhere on the world's stage. Many others were addendums elsewhere, but owned their own chapters once arriving in the Bundesliga – and there are some star turns that you may not even remember once played together.
bundesliga.com has compiled a list of Bundesliga and world stars who once strutted their stuff in the same colours…
Ron-Robert Zieler and Cristiano Ronaldo, Manchester United
Signed on with big hopes and expectations, ultimately he went on to play for the English Premier League champions. Yes, we are talking about Stuttgart's Ron-Robert Zieler, who was on the Manchester United books at the same time as a certain Cristiano Ronaldo – that Portuguese player who has been voted the world's best footballer five times? He honed his skills in training against Zieler, who also turned out for Leicester City in the Premier League, between spells at Hannover and VfB.
James Rodriguez and Marcel Tisserand, Monaco
Here's an interesting nugget that you won't have known: when on the field on the same side, Bayern Munich's James Rodriguez and Wolfsburg's Marcel Tisserand have never lost a game. Lining up together on five occasions for Monaco during the 2013/14 season, as Les Monegasques finished second to Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1, James and Tisserand were on the winning side four times and drew once. Following that summer's World Cup, golden boy Rodriguez joined Real Madrid and now Bayern; Tisserand eventually left the south of France permanently for Ingolstadt and now the Wolves. They're more likely to face each other these days, but memories of that impressive season on the French Riviera will no doubt remain.
Watch: Check out all of James' goals and assists since joining Bayern!
Abdou Diallo and Kylian Mbappe, Monaco
As strange as it may appear for a Mainz defender and the PSG superstar to be acquainted, the pair are in fact good friends. Both came through the Monaco youth system and although Diallo is a couple of years older they share a close bond: "Kylian didn’t just play with me but was also with my younger brother in the Monaco academy," he told bundesliga.com last year. Both went on to appear for the Monaco first team, albeit not very frequently: Diallo made just ten outings before joining Mainz, via a loan spell in the Netherlands with Zulte Waregem, while Mbappe's electric pace and killer instinct in front of goal earned him a high-profile loan move to the French capital.
Nils Petersen and Kevin De Bruyne, Werder Bremen
Once a Premier League outcast, Kevin De Bruyne discovered in the Bundesliga – and Werder Bremen – the ideal surroundings to find his footballing feet. With 10 goals in 34 games, the Belgian forged a formidable partnership with the Bundesliga's all-time greatest super-sub Nils Petersen, who struck one goal more for the Green-Whites in the 2012/13 campaign. A northern lad at heart, De Bruyne felt at home in northern Germany and went on to be named the Bundesliga's Player of the Year in the following season at Wolfsburg before doing quite well at Manchester City in northern England. On the contrary, Petersen found more southern comfort in Freiburg, having started to shine 'down south' at Bayern Munich.
Lewis Holtby and Gareth Bale, Tottenham Hotspur
This duo's career paths have taken rather different trajectories since spending the second half of the 2012/13 season together in the English capital. Holtby was considered one of the hottest young properties in European football at the time given his influential form for Schalke but struggled to settle at Spurs, joining Fulham on loan before returning to the Bundesliga with Hamburg in September 2014. While he's successfully helped HSV stay afloat in Germany's top flight thus far, Bale has gone on to win the UEFA Champions League three times with Real Madrid.
Sokratis, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ronaldinho and Andrea Pirlo, AC Milan
How did Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis develop into such a miserly defender? The answer surely lies in part on the training pitches at AC Milan, where the Greece international had to test his mettle against the might of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the incisive passing of Andrea Pirlo and the trickery of Ronaldinho as a fresh-faced 22-year-old on a daily basis between July 2010 and June 2012. Sokratis only made five first-team appearances during that period – where he was joined by current Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng – but the lessons learned were surely priceless.
Shinji Kagawa and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez, Manchester United
Did you hear the one about Shinji Kagawa and Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez meeting in Manchester? Unfortunately, neither the Japan nor the Mexico international hit it off during their time together at Old Trafford, instead seeking their fortune in the Bundesliga. Kagawa returned to Borussia Dortmund while Chicharito strutted his stuff for Bayer Leverkusen, and both scored against each other as they found a true home in German football.
Watch: Kagawa is under pressure to beat the clock in this Q&A!
Josuha Guilavogui, Diego Costa and David Villa, Atletico Madrid
Guilavogui's imperious displays for boyhood club St. Etienne caught the attention of Atletico Madrid in September 2013 and the powerful midfielder signed a five-year deal in the Spanish capital. First-team outings were hard to come by, but he still made seven competitive outings alongside the likes of Diego Costa and David Villa before eventually making the switch to Wolfsburg in August 2014.
Mario Gomez and Sami Khedira, Stuttgart
In terms of of profuse academies, Stuttgart's is most certainly one. Want some proof? Just flick back the history book to 2006/07, when the Swabians last won the Bundesliga. Their top scorer in the league that season was Mario Gomez, who has this winter returned to his roots. Arguably the most important goal of that season came from a midfielder making a name for himself: Sami Khedira, whose strike against Energie Cottbus clinched Stuttgart the title, before he moved on to Real Madrid and Juventus, booking a regular berth in UEFA Champions League finals.
Serge Gnabry and Lukas Podolski, Arsenal
The first time Serge Gnabry and Lukas Podolski featured on the same side was at the Allianz Arena in March 2014, although they were not in a Bayern shirt. Gnabry came on as a substitute 20 minutes after Podolski had brought Arsenal level in a 1-1 draw with their hosts. That night, Arsenal almost fielded as many Germany internationals – with Özil and Per Mertesacker – as Bayern, who had Manuel Neuer, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Götze, Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller helping them just four months before they got their hands on the FIFA World Cup.