One of the standout individual success stories of the season so far, Matthias Ginter’s transformation from bench-warming central defender to irreplaceable right-back has been nothing short of exceptional.
If the 21-year-old’s first season at Borussia Dortmund did not go quite according to plan, the start of his second is exceeding all expectation.
The euphoria, however, was not to last. Unable to dislodge the old guard - Mats Hummels, Sokratis, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gündogan, Lars Bender, Nuri Sahin and Sebastian Kehl - the multi-talented Ginter found himself playing in the reserves.
Transfer speculation linking him with a move to any one of a number of Dortmund’s rivals was inevitable, but the exit door did not once factor into the then Germany Under-21 international’s thinking: "I’m sticking around, I’ll keep working hard."
Persistence pays off
Unsurprisingly, Ginter’s personal revival has not gone unnoticed by Germany head coach Joachim Löw. He has started Die Mannschaft’s last three outings at right-back, seemingly providing the much-needed solution to the post-Philipp Lahm puzzle.
"I’m a right-back now, and that’s how it’s going to stay for now at least," Ginter said recently, his days of kicking about with the Dortmund Under-23s a distant memory.
Dennis-Julian Gottschlich/ Christopher Mayer-Lodge