You will have heard the one about Jadon Sancho using the Bundesliga as a springboard to his first England cap, but did you know about the other budding England internationals in Germany? - © © gettyimages / Clive Brunskill
You will have heard the one about Jadon Sancho using the Bundesliga as a springboard to his first England cap, but did you know about the other budding England internationals in Germany? - © © gettyimages / Clive Brunskill

Jadon Sancho leading emergence of talented English prospects thriving in Germany


With Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho making his senior England debut on Friday, the path being tread by an increasing number of young English prospects is looking all the more promising.

Sancho has really caught the eye for Dortmund in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions League this season, so much so that he has bypassed his country's U21s to debut in England's goalless UEFA Nations League draw with Croatia.

"Jadon's is an unusual story for an English player," said England manager Gareth Southgate of his decision to blood Sancho. "He's been brave enough to go abroad. He's played twice in the Champions League and excelled from the bench in the Bundesliga."

WATCH: Sancho and the Bundesliga's English legion

Sancho's story may not seem so unusual soon, though, with a growing crop of talented youngsters sharing his bravery by buying into his Bundesliga dream. The German top flight's reputation as a breeding ground for the brightest and best the young generation has to offer is well documented, but with the message now arriving across The Channel, introduces several more English hopefuls already following in Sancho's footsteps.

- © imago

Chima Okoroji (SC Freiburg)

Age: 21
Position: Left full-back
Previous clubs: Bayern Munich, Augsburg

Okoroji actually pre-empted Sancho's move to the Bundesliga, starting out his footballing life in Bayern Munich's youth academy at the tender age of just seven. A left full-back by trade, he was put through his paces on a pitch within a stone's throw from two great role models: Philipp Lahm and David Alaba. While his route into the Bayern first-team may well have been blocked by arguably two of the greatest ever individuals to fulfil his role, the opportunity to learn from them has helped Okoroji flourish. He moved to Augsburg on loan in 2015 and has since joined Freiburg, where he finally hopes to make the breakthrough into the Bundesliga.

"I'm really getting close and train a lot with the first team,” he told Planet Football. "They give me the feeling that I will make it here. It was the right decision to join Freiburg; I'm really sure I will make it here. I was on the bench when we played Dortmund and I hope I will make my debut soon. In England the chance to play first-team football is not great, whereas here there are more opportunities."

Mandela Egbo (Borussia Mönchengladbach )

Age: 21
Position: Right full-back
Previous club: Crystal Palace

Danny Collinge (VfB Stuttgart)

"It may not have been looked at as something that people did before, but now there's me, Jadon and a few other boys out here and now people are looking at it and saying 'hold on, this is doable, why not look into this?' and I think that's a good thing."

Age: 20
Position: Centre-back
Former club: MK Dons

Danny Collinge was wise to the opportunities German football offered when, in 2014, he made the bold decision to turn down a two-year scholarship at MK Dons in favour of joining VfB Stuttgart, who also permitted him to complete his studies. "In England that opportunity wasn't there for me, but in Germany I was given the opportunity to go to an international school and study for an International Baccalaureate," he told the BBC. "That would secure me a good back-up plan if football didn't work out for me."

He might not need that back-up plan, though, since Collinge is a regular for Stuttgart's reserves, and knocking on the first-team door in Swabia.

Reiss Nelson(Hoffenheim)

Age: 18
Position: Forward
Former club: Arsenal

Just down the road, Reiss Nelson is another young Lion to have taken note of the opportunities on offer in the Bundesliga, joining Hoffenheim in the summer from Arsenal. Although he signed a long-term contract with the Gunners prior to moving to Sinsheim, the Bundesliga club are going to gain from his services at least for the duration of this season, and it looks like it will be mutually beneficial deal. "Reiss is a talented young player," said Arsenal manager Unai Emery when letting him go. "This move to Hoffenheim will give him the chance to get regular high-level competition." Again, something he could not have offered in the Premier League.

Indeed, the England U21 international has been one of the revelations in the Bundesliga this season with two goals in three substitute appearances, totalling little over 90 minutes on the field. The 18-year-old winger has also picked up his first Champions League stripe in the 2-2 draw with Shakhtar Donetsk, and Arsenal can look forward to welcoming back a mature, internationally-experienced winger next term, while Hoffenheim's push for more Champions League football next season can only benefit from his accelerated progress.

WATCH: Reiss Nelson reflects on maiden Bundesliga goal

Keanen Bennetts (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

Age: 19
Position: Left midfielder/winger
Former club: Tottenham Hotspur

Following Nelson over to Germany in the summer was Keanen Bennetts, a 19-year-old left winger who caught the eye in Tottenham Hotspur's youth team last season. "Keanan can play a variety of attacking roles," said Gladbach sporting director Max Eberl. "We back him to make the step up to the Bundesliga. We're delighted he's chosen to sign for Borussia."

Denzeil Boadu (Borussia Dortmund)

Age: 21
Position: Attacking midfielder
Former clubs: Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, Manchester City

Finally, Denzeil Boadu is following even closer in the footsteps of Sancho having also left Manchester City for Dortmund in the summer. Although yet to make his first-team debut, the 21-year-old attacking midfielder is looking to get his career back on the road after injuries set him back after he had scored four times in as many outings for England's U17s.  

With Sancho to rub shoulders with, and many other inspirations flooding into the German game from England, Boadu and Co. appear to be on a pathway to prominence, thanks to the Bundesliga.

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