Cologne - With three goals and as many assists in 11 appearances in all competitions so far this season, FC Schalke 04’s Joel Matip is far from your average defender.
The Cameroon international has been integral to the Royal Blues' revival under Andre Breitenreiter, making headlines for all the right reasons at both ends of the pitch.
Nose for goal
"I was playing for the youth team when my coach Norbert Elgert had the idea to put me up front," Matip recalled in a recent interview with schalke04.de. "I played there for six months and it was a success. I even scored with my feet - not just my head. Then after being out for a long time with injury, I went straight into the senior team, where I was once again used as a defender because it's what I know best."
Indeed, since taking his Bundesliga bow in a 2-1 defeat to Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 5 February 2009, Matip has gone on to make 228 top-flight appearances, 156 of which have come in his preferred starting position at the heart of defence. The 24-year-old has also moonlighted as a left-back, right-back and holding midfielder, but has almost always managed to put his attacking qualities to good use, scoring at least twice in all but one of his six full seasons as a professional.