When signing exciting young attacking midfielder Amine Harit from French club Nantes last summer, Schalke recruited a player expected to bring the Veltins Arena faithful to their feet. He did that and more over the course of a memorable debut campaign in the top flight that brought him the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season award by Tag Heuer.
Allow bundesliga.com to present five background facts about the France-born, Morocco international starlet.
1) Like a duck to water
Born in Pontoise, northwest of Paris, Harit was a talented swimmer as a child. His father's influence imbued a love for the pool and until the age of 14, the budding footballer was also part of a swimming club.
Harit participated in competitions every weekend at home and abroad but football took over for good when he joined Nantes as a 15-year-old.
"It was good but there's no comparison with football," the attacking midfielder told L’Équipe when discussing his aquatic past. "For me, there's no better sport than football."
Watch: First December Rookie of the Month, now Rookie of the Season!
2) Destined for Germany
According to one of his first coaches, Harit was already "super talented" at the age of six. A couple of years later he spent three months at Paris Saint-Germain but long trips to and from the French capital proved too gruelling.
The silky dribbler had to be patient once he moved west from Paris club Red Star to Nantes, and before leaving for the UEFA European U-19 Championship 2016 in Germany, he had yet to make his senior debut.
The then-Nantes attacker – who had only just scraped a place in the tournament squad – thrived in the limelight. He set up two goals in the final as France beat Italy 4-0 at Hoffenheim's Rhein-Neckar-Arena and was also named in the team of the tournament.
3) Revierderby warrior
Although Harit returned an assist on his Bundesliga debut in Schalke's 2-0 win against RB Leipzig, he spent most of his first few months drifting in and out of the side as he found his feet in a new country and a new league.
After that promising - but unfulfilled - start, Harit then ensured himself not just a regular spot in the first team, but also a place in Schalke folklore after a memorable display in November's Revierderby against Borussia Dortmund.
Brought on in the 33rd minute with Schalke 4-0 down at the Signal Iduna Park, Harit scored his first Bundesliga goal to make it 4-2 and then – to the eternal gratitude of Schalke fans – struggled back onto the field with a ripped sock and gashed calf following a heavy tackle from Gonzalo Castro ten minutes from time, with the Royal Blues still two goals in arrears.
Daniel Caligiuri and Naldo completed the stunning turnaround in the closing stages, rescuing a 4-4 draw, but Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco afterwards underlined the youngster's contribution: "Hats off to Amine Harit," he said. "He made a huge difference. I'm so proud of him and the team. He gave everything for us."
"It was painful, but I wanted to stay on the pitch to help the team," Harit said. "I couldn't run. The last ten minutes were tough, but I had to play on for the team. I can't begin to describe how it felt when Naldo made it 4-4. It was as if I was dreaming."
Pain is temporary, after all, but glory lasts forever.
Watch: Enjoy the highlights of that memorable 4-4 draw in Dortmund!
4) Moroccan at heart
Although born in France, Harit is of Moroccan heritage, with both his parents hailing from Casablanca. The svelte attacking midfielder switched his allegiances from the country of his birth to Morocco in September 2017, explaining that it was "a choice made by the heart".
"I spoke for a long time with my parents and my advisors," he told jeuneafrique, explaining the decision. "I have a very close relationship with Morocco and it was a choice made by the heart ... I speak Arabic, and even though I grew up in France, Morocco has always been a part of me ... It's the most difficult choice I've had to make in my career so far."
It has proved a wise decision: Harit is in the Atlas Lions' squad for the 2018 World Cup (and when you consider that Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman missed out on the France squad, the choice looks all the more prescient), and will come up against Iran, Portugal and Spain in Group B in the country's first outing since 1998. With Morocco also bidding to host the 2026 tournament – by which point Harit will be 28 – expect the Schalke man to be a feature of future international showpieces.
5) Agent Provocateur
Even before arriving in Germany, Harit had pointed to his tricky dribbling abilities as one of his strong suits. "People could think I'm arrogant, but that's not the case at all," he told L’Equipe. "I've a bit of a provocative style of play."
Harit proved provocative in his first season in Germany, his in-box wizardry drawing three penalties from opposition defenders and creating a further four goals for his colleagues.
Those dribbling abilities – and searing pace – have been deployed centrally since the switch to Gelsenkirchen, with Harit usually playing as one of two attacking midfielders in Tedesco's preferred 3-4-2-1 set-up, providing more space for his impish talent to thrive.