There's more than a hint of Roger Federer about Borussia Mönchengladbach and Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer, whose cool composure and sure reflexes have made him the undisputed No.1 for club and country.

Sommer began his career with hometown club FC Basel, coming through the youth ranks before being sent out on loan to second-tier FC Vaduz in the summer of 2007. In his first full season, the promising young keeper helped Vaduz secure a historic promotion to the Super League: on 12 May 2008, they became the first ever team from Liechtenstein to reach the Swiss top flight.

Following another successful loan spell with Grasshopper Club Zürich in 2009/10 - 11 clean sheets in 33 league games, plus the best defensive record in the Super League - Sommer finally established himself as Basel's first-choice keeper in 2011/12, keeping 13 clean sheets as his side were crowned Swiss champions for the third straight season.

Watch: Yann Sommer: Gladbach's Swiss shot-stoppper supreme!

It was back in his Basel days that Sommer first crossed paths with tennis legend Federer, who was born in the city and remains an avid FCB supporter. The 19-time Grand Slam champion - whose parents still live in Basel - has even been known to pop into the dressing rooms to congratulate the team after a victory.

"We always seemed to end up bumping into each other, whether it was at the stadium, in the changing rooms, or when he was practising with Marco Chiudinelli, another tennis player from Basel," Sommer recently confided to bundesliga.com. "We're from the same city and we've developed a good relationship. We Swiss are really proud of him, and what he does for our country. He may be a global star with unbelievable quality - but he's still very down-to-earth, a really friendly guy."

While he still has some way to go to match Federer's trophy collection, Sommer continued to rack up silverware with Basel, adding further Super League titles in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, and the Swiss Cup in 2012.

Sommer made a real name for himself at Basel, winning four Swiss Super League titles. © gettyimages / Jamie McDonald

The up-and-coming keeper also got his first taste of European football, playing every minute of the extraordinary run to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals in 2012/2013. His early penalty save from Tottenham Hotspur's Tom Huddlestone in the quarter-finals swung the shoot-out decisively in Basel's favour, as they reached the last four of a European competition for the very first time in their history.

Sommer also helped FCB reach the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 2011/12, where a shock 1-0 home win over Bayern Munich in the first leg sparked hopes of a sensational upset. The Bavarian giants had other ideas, however, and romped to a crushing 7-0 win at the Allianz Arena three weeks later to ease through to the quarter-finals.

Basel consoled themselves by completing a league and cup double that term, and Sommer's contribution to their success earned him a first call-up to Ottmar Hitzfeld's Switzerland squad, with his debut coming in a friendly against Romania (0-1) in May 2012.

The Gladbach stopper has 31 senior international caps for Switzerland. © imago / Ulmer

Die Nati failed to reach UEFA EURO 2012, and so Sommer's first competitive games for his country came during the qualifying campaign for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. However, it was not until after the tournament in Brazil that he became their first-choice custodian, following the retirement of former Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio.

It was also during the summer of 2014 that Sommer traded the Swiss Super League for the Bundesliga, joining Gladbach as a replacement for the Barcelona-bound Marc-Andre ter Stegen. The club had every reason to be satisfied with their choice: after a hugely impressive campaign in which Sommer kept 15 clean sheets, the Foals finished third behind Bayern and Wolfsburg, boasting the second best defensive record in the league.

"Playing in the Bundesliga is a huge challenge for a goalkeeper, because you always come up against so many good players," declared Sommer, who now has over 100 Bundesliga appearances to his name. "It was a brilliant career move. I've had a great experience at Gladbach, and when you can be successful in a league like the Bundesliga - as we have been in recent years - then it's even better."

Watch: Relive Gladbach's thrilling 4-2 victory over Hertha Berlin on Matchday 13

Gladbach made a topsy-turvy start to 2015/16, kicking off with five consecutive defeats followed by six straight wins, before going on to finish fourth and once again qualify for the Champions League. A more difficult campaign followed in 2016/17, with the club finishing down in ninth place, although Sommer - who played every minute of every game - still managed 10 clean sheets.

At 28, the Swiss stopper has matured into one of the Foals' leaders, and he is now determined to get them back on track. Though 2017/18 has been another up-and-down season - with fine wins over the likes of Hertha Berlin, Hoffenheim and Hannover, but heavy defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund - Dieter Hecking's men find themselves flying high in fourth after 12 games.

"I think it’s gone well so far, even if we've been a bit inconsistent," Sommer admitted. "We have to make sure there is unity between the young players and those with more experience. It's important that the senior squad members - myself included - take on plenty of responsibility and watch out for the younger lads."

Sommer will certainly have a chance to impress in Gladbach's next outing - a mouth-watering clash at home to record champions Bayern, in what is characterised as a kind of 'throwback' Klassiker - the two clubs dominated German football in the late 1960s and 1970s, sharing nine consecutive Bundesliga titles between 1968/69 and 1976/77.

While Sommer had a rather unhappy Champions League record with Basel against Bayern - one win and three losses, including that 7-0 demolition in March 2012 - things have been much more balanced since he moved to Gladbach: two wins, two draws and two defeats in the Bundesliga, with two clean sheets thrown in for good measure.

Bayern's star striker Robert Lewandowski, on the other hand, has only netted once in 11 league meetings with the Foals, back in his Dortmund days. While Jupp Heynckes' resurgent Bayern juggernaut will take some derailing, Gladbach have been known to cause them problems in the past - and victory at Borussia-Park would keep the self-styled 'German Team' firmly in the hunt for a return to European football.

Watch: Previous meeting: Gladbach 0-1 Bayern

"It’s always nice to be near the top, but right now our focus is bringing consistency to our game," Sommer said. "The most important thing is that we play well week in, week out - and avoid any more meltdowns like the one we had against Leverkusen. We can't let that happen again. Our current goal difference speaks volumes, so we have to do something to improve it."

Indeed, despite being fourth, Gladbach's goal difference is currently zero - 21 for and 21 against in 12 games. Admittedly, Hecking's side shipped 11 of those goals against Leverkusen (1-5) and Dortmund (1-6) - Sommer was absent from the latter game with a knee injury - but the Foals will have to tighten up if they want to keep fighting at the business end of the table.

Next summer, meanwhile, Sommer will have a chance to represent Switzerland at the biggest table of them all, after a Bundesliga-inspired Nati side successfully secured their place at a fourth straight World Cup earlier this month. Following a superb qualifying campaign - which saw them lead European champions Portugal until their final group outing - it was only fitting to see the Swiss come through their play-off encounter with Northern Ireland and book their spot in Russia.

Sommer will almost certainly go to the 2018 FIFA World Cup as Die Nati's No.1. © gettyimages / Jean Catuffe

In spite of some stiff competition from Dortmund's Roman Bürki and Augsburg's Marwin Hitz, Sommer remained Switzerland's No.1 throughout qualifying, and he will surely be one of the first names on Vladimir Petkovic's teamsheet when the action gets underway in June. As he gains in confidence and experience, the 28-year-old is convinced that he can continue to go from strength to strength for both club and country.

"I'm nowhere near the finished product," he insisted. "I would say I'm the ideal age for a goalkeeper, because I know my strengths and weaknesses. I know what I need to keep doing and what I have to improve. I think that's always the case in life - you never stop learning and improving. I hope it will be the case for many years to come."

So do Gladbach, so do Switzerland, and so - in all likelihood - does Federer.

Andy Smith

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