Danny Collinge (19) has already been training with the first-team squad under the watchful eye of young boss Hannes Wolf. - © © imago
Danny Collinge (19) has already been training with the first-team squad under the watchful eye of young boss Hannes Wolf. - © © imago

VfB Stuttgart’s English teenager Danny Collinge: “I love the German approach to football”

Kaylen Hinds and Jadon Sancho may have made headlines this summer by moving from the English Premier League to the Bundesliga as teenagers, but they did not begin the recent revolution of Englishmen abroad in Germany.

Having moved from the English town of Milton Keynes to Stuttgart in the summer of 2014, the now 19-year-old Danny Collinge has been working hard on many a dark winter night as he seeks to ensure a bright future in the game. Something that, even at just 16, he saw as more possible to achieve in Germany rather than England.

"I think a move abroad is difficult but it's so rewarding," Collinge said in an interview with the BBC. "You just have to look at the past five or 10 years of international football.

"What Germany have done in the past four months - they've won the Under-21 Euros and the Confederations Cup, both of them with essentially their B team. If that doesn't show you the depth of players that are coming through the German system, I don't know what will.”

Collinge’s move to Germany was not only a decision on where better to develop himself on a footballing level, but also because of the attention that is given by German clubs in educating their players off the pitch, as well as on it.

In England, very few clubs offer the chance to study A levels - the exams that gain access to University in the U.K. - alongside playing for a professional club, which for Collinge, was a vital part of any decision he was going to make.

"I wanted the opportunity to pursue the educational side of my life because that's something I value dearly," said the now 19-year-old. "School has always been something I was quite good at and I wanted to always have a plan B.

"In England that opportunity wasn't there for me, but in Germany I was given the opportunity to go to an international school and study for an International Baccalaureate. That would secure me a good back-up plan if football didn't work out for me."

He has quietly been going about his work, away from the media spotlight and with a chance to develop in exactly the way he wants. And, at a club like Stuttgart, famous for breeding the likes of Mario Gomez, Sami Khedira and more recently, Timo Werner, the decision was one that Collinge says he never questioned.

In his three years with the Swabians, the defender has graduated through the club’s youth system and is now a part of the second team, currently playing in the fourth division of German football. Collinge could soon be gracing a Bundesliga pitch, as well as completing his studies and learning German.

And after signing a contract until 2019 a little under three years ago, the green grass of the Mercedes-Benz-Arena in Stuttgart is somewhere he sees himself for the foreseeable future.

"From a footballing point of view I think I'd want to stay in Germany," he said, when asked if he would ever return to England.

"I love the German approach to football. They put a lot of emphasis into developing youth players. They're willing to take risks. I think the football here is a lot more technical and tactical than in England.”

With Kaylen Hinds, Reece Oxford, Jadon Sancho, Ryan Kent and Mandela Egbo as compatriots now also plying their trade in Germany, the Bundesliga feels even more closer to home than ever for the new English generation.

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