Denmark midfielder Thomas Delaney has quietly been making a name for himself since joining Werder Bremen in January 2017, helping to transform last season's relegation struggle into an unlikely push for Europe. After a stunning start to September - for both club and country - the 26-year-old looks set to emerge as a genuine Bundesliga star.
It's been some week.
On 3 September, Thomas Delaney turned 26 - and there was plenty to celebrate, given that only two days earlier he had helped Denmark storm to a brilliant 4-0 win over Group E leaders Poland in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying. In the familiar setting of Telia Parken stadium - where he spent eight seasons with FC Copenhagen - Delaney nodded in the opening goal as the Danes ran rings around Robert Lewandowski's hapless Poles, giving their chances of reaching Russia next summer a huge boost.
That was his maiden international goal, in his 17th appearance for Denmark. The best was yet to come, though: the day after his birthday, Delaney netted a hat-trick - including two more headers and a stunning drive from distance - as the Danes romped to a 4-1 win in Armenia.
Thursday: 25 years old, 0 international goals.— Bundesliga English (@Bundesliga_EN) September 5, 2017
Monday: 26 years old, 4 international goals.
What are your birthday plans this year? 🎉 pic.twitter.com/mTvePLwbDn
Those back-to-back victories have left them level on points with their next opponents, Montenegro, and three points behind Poland with two games to go. World Cup qualification is back in their hands, and Delaney - who was eligible for the United States through his father, but always dreamed of representing his native Denmark - has played a big hand in making it happen.
Fresh from his exploits on the international stage, Delaney then helped Bremen earn their first point of the new Bundesliga campaign as he cancelled out Mathew Leckie's opener for Hertha Berlin on Sunday, to make it five goals in three games for club and country. Interestingly - for a player who has only been in the squad since January - Delaney has also been handed the captain's armband in the absence of the injured Zlatko Junuzovic, which gives some idea of his influence on the pitch.
Watch: Delaney, Bremen's midfield general
The Green-Whites didn't have the easiest start to the campaign by any means, with an opening-day trip to Hoffenheim (0-1) followed by a home outing against champions Bayern Munich (0-2). However, their Danish talisman has now got them off the mark, and he looks set to once again play a central role in their successes this season, in every sense of the term.
His fine recent performances won't have come as a huge surprise to regulars at the Weser Stadium. Since joining Bremen in January, the Dane has emerged as one of the key players in Alexander Nouri's team, providing the vital link between defence and attack.
As his last two Denmark outings have demonstrated, Delaney certainly isn't shy about getting forward. A genuine box-to-box midfielder, he already had a reputation for coming up with sensational goals at Copenhagen (just ask Club Brugge fans) before grabbing his maiden Bundesliga goal in fine style on Matchday 21 last term, with a stunning free-kick against Mainz.
Watch: Delaney hit a treble as Bremen ran riot against Freiburg in April
That victory sparked the incredible 11-game unbeaten streak - including nine wins - which brought the Green-Whites to the brink of European qualification. Despite a few injury problems, Delaney was at the heart of that run, and made headlines again in the 5-2 win at Freiburg, scoring his first Bundesliga hat-trick and inadvertently setting up Fin Bartels for his side's fourth.
Bremen face Schalke, Wolfsburg, Freiburg and Hamburg before the next international break in early October. With midfield maestro Delaney in this kind of form, it is surely only a matter of time before they get their season properly up and running, and a true Bundesliga star is born.