Hertha Berlin's up-and-coming Austria midfielder Valentino Lazaro has been named the TAG Heuer Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for March, pipping Cologne's Vincent Koziello and Mainz's Florian Müller to the award.
The capital club had failed to score in four league outings before Lazaro brought an end to their 447-minute goal drought on 17 March, inspiring his side to a come-from-behind win over Hamburg a week before his 22nd birthday.
The fact that it was Lazaro who ended the Old Lady's barren spell should come as no great surprise. The young Austrian, who moved to Berlin from Salzburg at the start of the season, has been directly involved in six of their last eight goals, scoring twice and providing four assists.
In total, Lazaro has laid on five goals this term – more than any of his teammates – and the attacking midfielder's pace and energy have made him an essential element in the team's forward play.
It is safe to say, then, that his move to the Bundesliga has paid off, even if he struggled at first due to an ankle complaint.
"Despite my injury it was important for me to make the move to Germany," said Lazaro, who made his Salzburg debut at the tender age of 16 and earned his first international cap for Austria at 18. "At the start I needed time to adapt, because every mistake is punished in the Bundesliga."
The technically gifted right-footer is now a fixture in the Hertha line-up, thanks in part to his versatility: he is comfortable on either wing or as a more central playmaker.
He has been used in a variety of attacking positions since Matchday 16 and has earned the trust of head coach Pal Dardai: "I'm happy we have him. Valentino's a winner. He's a good guy and has got his own opinion."
No doubt that being named the TAG Heuer Bundesliga Rookie of the Month for March will spur Lazaro on to even greater heights in the coming months!