Everything's coming up roses for Nico Schulz. After helping Hoffenheim qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage last season, he scored the winning goal on his Germany debut in a September friendly against Peru.
bundesliga.com has the lowdown on a player lighting up the left-hand flank for club and country...
Position: Left wing-back/left midfielder
Country: Germany (1 cap, 1 goal)
Shirt number: 16
Schulz was clearly always on Germany’s radar as he made his way up through the youth ranks at his first club Hertha Berlin. He chalked up 51 caps for his country from schoolboy to U21 level before a cruciate ligament injury in October 2015 checked his progress - soon after he had moved to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The left-footed Berlin native changed clubs again in August 2017, and was described as one of the quickest players in the league on his arrival at Hoffenheim. He finished with one goal and five assists in his first Bundesliga season working under Julian Nagelsmann, clocking a speed of 21.5 mph and recording a pass-completion rate of 77 percent. That particular figure is not bad at all for a wide man whose success from crosses also depends on attackers beating their marker to get on the end of them. Schulz also netted in Hoffenheim's first ever European victory, a 3-1 UEFA Europa League success against Istanbul Basaksehir in October 2017.
Plays a bit like: David Alaba
One of the main assets Schulz has is his flexibility. Equally comfortable at left-back or – since his move to Hoffenheim - on the left-side of midfield, in that sense he is similar to Bayern Munich and Austria star David Alaba. Schulz enjoyed a particularly strong second half to the 2017/18 season, contributing his only league goal and four assists during Hoffenheim’s run of seven wins from 10 games to finish the campaign. Playing on the left wing in a 3-5-2 formation, Schulz helped Hoffenheim qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage by finishing third in the Bundesliga table.
Did you know?
Liverpool were interested in bringing Schulz to Anfield when he was still in his mid-teens, but the youngster opted to stay in Berlin. Schulz went on play for Hertha against his future club Hoffenheim in the DFB Youth Cup final in 2010, before reaching the semi-finals of the European U-21 Championship with Germany in 2015. Now, he has become the ninth Hoffenheim player in history to represent Germany at senior level.
Watch: Find out more about Schulz's club Hoffenheim!
What they're saying
"To play for the national side in my own stadium was brilliant. My goal was a bit lucky, but they all count! The team have accepted me very quickly" - Schulz, after scoring on his Germany debut
“He has outstanding athletic qualities and incredible speed.” - Hoffenheim boss Nagelsmann, speaking in March 2018