Teenage pair Jadon Sancho and Reiss Nelson have spoken about the "trust and belief" put in them by their coaches at Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim that has seen their fledgling careers take flight and could encourage more English prodigies to move to the Bundesliga.
The best friends, who grew up and played football together in south London, have contributed to 16 goals in 18 Bundesliga appearances combined in 2018/19 after doing something neither of them would have imagined only a few years ago: moving to Germany to further their career
The pair have been rewarded for their especially impressive performances during October, with English talent reigning supreme. Sancho was named Player of the Month, while Nelson picked up the Rookie of the Month award in a clean-sweep for the duo.
Sancho’s permanent move from English Premier League giants Manchester City to Dortmund in the summer of 2017 encouraged his partner-in-crime Nelson to do the same a year later, joining Hoffenheim from Arsenal on a season-long loan, and the pair — and their clubs — are now reaping the rewards.
Watch: How does Sancho produce his magic?
“If English clubs are not giving you a chance then abroad is always an option,” Sancho, who was handed a senior international debut by England boss Gareth Southgate in October, told BBC Sport.
“They’re always open to just seeing your ability and, hopefully, if you’re good enough then you get your chance. That’s what the Bundesliga is all about. They believe in you, they trust you and, even if you’re so young, they wouldn’t get you out here if they didn’t really believe in your ability.
"The Bundesliga is a nice step up for a young English person like me. It's not easy at all. My team behind me are really supportive - they wanted the best for me and I felt like coming out to Germany and expressing myself is perfect, the best thing I've ever done."
While Sancho has contributed four goals in six assists in 11 Bundesliga appearances to Dortmund’s league-leading cause this season, Nelson is already Hoffenheim’s leading scorer with six goals in just seven appearances, only four of which were starts, and was recently named TAG Heuer Rookie of the Month for October.
The pair have also featured in top-of-the-bill Bundesliga fixtures as well as UEFA Champions League games, an invaluable opportunity to gain big-match experience that — the London-born duo say — sets Germany’s top flight apart and is likely to tempt more promising English youngsters.
“Sanch started the trend, I’d say,” Nelson told BBC Sport. “I call him every day and he’s obviously saying we are kind of setting the trend for the young boys to come over. I know a lot of the top [young] players in England as well and they’re always saying, ‘How is life in Germany, how is the Bundesliga?’ and I’m just saying, ‘It’s great’.
“They believe in young players and that’s the main thing. Getting the belief behind you to play football.”
Watch: Our exclusive interview with Nelson!
The scare factor of moving to a new country and learning a new language has also been removed for both Sancho and Nelson, with Dortmund and Hoffenheim’s internationally-influenced squads able to speak English to help them settle in, but in Nelson’s special case, he does try to show his work off the pitch.
“I can speak a bit of German,” Nelson added. “I’m having German lessons and it’s going well. The boys banter me sometimes, the way I speak, but that’s just what comes with it.”