He may be famed for collecting titles on a conveyor belt with Bayern Munich and Germany, but there is much more to Jerome Boateng than what you see on the pitch. bundesliga.com highlights 10 little-known nuggets about the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner…
1) Aygenim Boateng?
Yup, that's right. You've been watching Boateng play all these years without realising he has an unusual middle name – one he even has tattooed (more on this below) all the way up his right forearm. Boateng's father, Prince, is from Ghana so he gave him the moniker in a nod to those African roots. Meaning 'The Great One' in local dialect Ashanti-Twi, there can be little doubt the centre-back has certainly lived up to his billing.
2) Tottenham? No thanks!
Born and raised in Berlin, Boateng initially cut his teeth in the game in the Tennis Borussia Berlin youth sides, before being snapped up by the city's biggest club, Hertha, at the age of 14 in 2002. He progressed rapidly and made his Bundesliga debut five years later in the second half of the 2006/07 campaign.
His powerful physique and assured performances caught the eye of several clubs across the continent later that year – even drawing an offer from Tottenham Hotspur, who signed his brother Kevin-Prince that summer – but Jerome turned them down in favour of a move to Hamburg. Three years and 75 appearances later, a transfer to England did materialise with Manchester City, but after a frustrating season there he quickly jumped at the chance to sign for Bayern in summer 2011.
3) Practice makes perfect
Watching elite players effortlessly ping the ball around, it is easy to forget that countless hours of practice over numerous years have got them to that level. And although Boateng is a naturally gifted player, he readily admits that his left foot needed a lot of extra work.
"Both of my older brothers could shoot better than me," he told the Berliner Zeitung. "My other brother was also a really good player. So I started training with my friends and always only played and took shots with my left foot. After that I was better with my left than my brothers."
4) Gotta have faith
As a young boy, Boateng not only had belief in his own ability as a footballer, but also in a higher power. Bible stories made a lasting impression on him and to this day he retains his spirituality. "I really like sitting all by myself in church," he told Sportbild. "The peace and tranquillity allow me to look inside myself and to think about things."
Boateng prays before every match, "but not any specific Psalms; I use my own words. I believe in God and know that everyone makes mistakes. That's why I believe he's the only one who can judge us." Amen to that.
5) Tattoo fiend
The aforementioned ink on Boateng's arm is only one of a number of tattoos decorating his body, and he now has several other designs on his neck, back and shoulders. "It started when I was 16 or 17," said Boateng, who is father to twin girls Soley and Lamia. "I was with my two older brothers. They said 'let's all go and get the same tattoo, but we won't tell your mum'. So we all got a tattoo of the continent of Africa with the word 'Ghana' written inside."
Watch: Jerome Boateng's rise to the top!
Boateng's mother may not have authorised that particular outing but she nevertheless remains an important figure in his life, and cooked Jerome his favourite dish upon his return to Germany after winning the 2014 World Cup. "I went from the Brandenburger Tor back home and she cooked for me, like she did when I was a kid," he told Audi Star Talk. "Fish fingers and mashed potatoes. It's still my favourite meal!"
6) Shoe shop owner?
Boateng has a thing for shoes, and is not ashamed to admit it. "I'm addicted to shoes. My mother always told me I could open a shop," he joked of his collection of over 700 pairs that requires its own room in his house. "It started when I was 13 or 14 years old. 'Oh those shoes, I want to have them in different colours,' I thought. And then it started. I can't stop. I still love shoes, I love sneakers."
7) What a spectacle!
You might think that Boateng would have his hands full, what with training, playing football, getting inked and curating his ever-expanding footwear collection, but the defender has still managed to add another string to his bow: designing glasses.
"When I was injured it was a difficult period, but I had time to create my own glasses," he said of his inaugural collection, which launched in 2016. Boateng is involved in every stage of a product's development, from design, material selection through to workmanship. "Glasses are an important part of any outfit for me. I enjoy discovering new pairs every so often." No wonder he was recently named Germany's best dressed man by men's fashion magazine GQ then…
8) Ambassador for bone marrow donors
Now don't go getting the wrong impression of Boateng. While he deservedly enjoys the fruits of his success, he remains a down-to-earth character who readily uses his profile for good causes.
One such initiative is the German Bone Marrow Donor File, better known as DKMS (or Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei to give it its full name). The 29-year-old has been involved with the charity since 2015, visiting clinics across Munich and fronting a project to get players at amateur clubs across Germany to register as donors, triggering a response from over 300 teams and more than 10,000 people.
"As footballers we know the meaning of togetherness," he said at the launch of the initiative. "Let's defeat leukaemia together." To date over 35 matching donors have been found to help save cancer patients.
9) Bittersweet Germany debut
Unlike his brother Kevin-Prince, representing Ghana was never an option for Jerome. "I'm a German first and foremost and I've identified with Germany my whole life," he explained.
Imagine his delight, then, when Joachim Löw handed him his first senior international cap in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Russia on 10 October 2009, with a place in the starting line-up. That joy would soon turn to despair, however, as Boateng received a second yellow card in the 69th minute, becoming the first Germany player ever to be sent off on his debut.
10) Jay-Z's mate (and client)
How many footballers can claim to have a rap legend as their agent? Well, Boateng certainly can after being taken into the Roc Nation stable owned by Jay-Z in 2015.
"After the 2014 World Cup we got an inquiry to work with them in the US," said Boateng, outlining how the unlikely connection came about. "So I flew over with the people from my old management company and we met with Roc Nation and talked about what we could do in the US for marketing and stuff. A week later I flew to LA and met Jay-Z. It was amazing, a dream. He's one of the biggest stars in the world."