From under-appreciated utility man at Borussia Dortmund to the second-highest scoring defender in the Bundesliga this season and a nail-on for a place in Joachim Löw's 2018 FIFA World Cup squad this summer, it's been a whirlwind few months for Borussia Mönchengladbach's Matthias Ginter.
It’s been an incredible run for the softly-spoken defender, who has since featured in every single minute of every game for the Foals this term. Furthermore, Ginter has netted five goals in 32 games across all competitions, four of which have come in Borussia wins, and another earning a dramatic last-gasp draw against Hoffenheim.
Watch: Meet Matthias Ginter!
Indeed, the Germany international’s third goal of 2017/18 came in a 2-1 triumph against Bayern on Matchday 13, with the Foals inflicting one of only three top-flight defeats on Jupp Heynckes’s men this season. It has all kept the Freiburg native purring along with his chance of making it into Joachim Löw’s FIFA World Cup plans more a probability than a possibility.
He’s been there before, of course. As an unused member of the Mannschaft elite that lifted the iconic trophy in 2014, Ginter subsequently progressed to becoming one of the focal points of last summer’s FIFA Confederations Cup success, appearing in four games, including the final triumph against Chile.
Watch: Ginter nets against Bayern on Matchday 13!
"The move to Gladbach was a great thing for me,” the one-time Olympian explained. “Of course, the World Cup is my big goal, I definitely want to be there," he added.
His final act with Borussia Dortmund was to win the DFB Cup last May while his very first competitive appearance for Die Schwarzgelben also brought silverware, namely the 2014 DFL Supercup against Bayern. At Freiburg, Ginter changed his playing role from defensive midfielder to central defender while during his 102 appearances for BVB, he was commanded to be even more versatile.
“Because I often had to change position, many did not perceive me as someone who played with regularity, even if the numbers proved the opposite,” he said. “It was a great advantage for me to gain experience in various positions, but in public, I might not have been properly perceived.”
There’s no question as to how the Gladbach defensive supremo is perceived among fans of Die Fohlen or by coach Dieter Hecking these days. Playing at the centre of a back three or as part of a four-man defence, Ginter is the epitome of calm under pressure while his ability to take the ball out from the back or join in Borussia attacks has been crucial to his team’s ongoing push to return to European competition by the season’s end.
And, as mentioned, there have been the goals. Scoring as a substitute on his senior bow for Freiburg two days after his 18th birthday was a fine start. Netting five, and counting, this season - the second-highest scoring defender in the Bundesliga after Schalke's Naldo with six - has been a part of arguably the player’s most consistent campaign to date and one which may well see him board the flight to Russia with Germany in June.
It would be a fine reward for a player who debuted for Germany back in March 2014. It was another fixture against Chile – a 1-0 win for the hosts in Berlin – that Ginter became his nation’s 900th player to be capped by the current world champions.
“At my club, I’m trying to evolve and do everything in my power to make the decision as easy as possible for the national coach,” the player explained recently. No doubt Joachim Löw will be a keen spectator throughout the remaining four games of the season, with Ginter hoping to put in more performances worthy of a tick in the Germany coach’s notebook.