As one door closes, another one opens. Ousmane Dembele may have left Borussia Dortmund and vacated the No.7 shirt, but it wasn’t without an owner for long. Enter Jadon Sancho.
The England youth international pitched up in Dortmund on transfer deadline day to sign his first professional contract and become the first English player to represent the Black and Yellows. bundesliga.com illuminates his journey to Signal Iduna Park…
Before this summer only true insiders of European football really knew Sancho. The 17-year-old’s parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago but he grew up in south London, an area of the capital with a high crime rate and relatively few prospects for young adults. As such, Sancho made sure his footballing talent provided him with an escape route.
“After school I always just wanted to play football,” he was quoted as saying by German daily BILD.de. “Around me a lot of people were doing some bad things, but I didn’t want anything to do with that.” Thankfully, Sancho had already begun to keep his feet on the ground, having joined Watford at the age of seven.
Aged 15 he moved to Manchester City, where he built on an encouraging first campaign to shoot to prominence the following season (2016/17), scoring 12 goals and providing four assists in 14 matches. Moreover, he also netted twice in the UEFA Youth League, the youth equivalent of the UEFA Champions League.
As a reward, he was promoted to the Manchester City reserve side, where he again impressed with three goals and two assists. He did not make an appearance for the senior team, but this says more about established Premier League clubs’ well-known reluctance to throw young, homegrown players into action than it does about Sancho’s obvious gifts.
Further evidence of his burgeoning talent came in his performances for England. After six goals for the U16s, Sancho then notched 13 in 16 matches for the U17s (as well as providing seven assists) and inspired the team to this summer’s UEFA EURO 2017 final in Croatia. England were beaten on penalties by Spain but Sancho’s five goals and assists apiece earned him the Player of the Tournament award, an accolade bestowed on superstars such as Mario Götze, Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas and Wayne Rooney before him.
“It was a difficult decision but the time is right for a new challenge where I can start to fulfil my potential,” said Sancho on Facebook as BVB acted decisively to swoop for one of England’s most talented youngsters. Sancho showed similar determination to leave his homeland behind and sign for a club whose pathway to the first team is much, much clearer. And while the competition in Dortmund may be fierce indeed – he has the likes of Götze, Christian Pulisic, Andre Schürrle, Shinji Kagawa, Andrey Yarmolenko and Marco Reus for company – Sancho can feel confident of making an impression at a club where young talent is celebrated.
Watch: English Bundesliga fan Joe assembles Signal Iduna Park out of Lego
To move to a new country with a different language and a different way of life shows maturity and courage, as well as ambition. Add to that Sancho’s undoubted gifts of scoring and making goals and leading a team, and you have a recipe for success that should have Dortmund supporters licking their lips. Welcome to the Bundesliga, Jadon!
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