The Bayern Munich first team is stacked with trophy-laden senior internationals, so for an unproven teenager to break into the side, they must be something very special indeed. Such is the case of South Korean youngster Woo-yeong Jeong.
bundesliga.com shines the spotlight the latest Bayern academy product to make his competitive debut with the pros.
Club: Bayern Munich
Country: South Korea
After joining Bayern from Incheon United in January 2018, Jeong – incidentally the first South Korean ever to play for Bayern – has raced to the fringes of the first team in double-quick time. He scored on his debut for the U19s and although injury ruled him out for most of the second half of 2017/18, this term he was promoted to the reserves and has seamlessly picked up where he left off.
Six goals and three assists in 16 Regionalliga outings are testament to his attacking threat and it has not gone unnoticed by Niko Kovac. The Bayern boss included Jeong in the party that travelled to the USA over the summer and he even played in Bastian Schweinsteiger's testimonial match at the Allianz Arena in August. Jeong was then an unused substitute in the squad for the DFB Cup second-round clash away to SV Rödinghausen at the end of October and again for the Bundesliga Matchday 12 clash with Fortuna Düsseldorf in November.
If those experiences were Jeong's hors d'oeuvres with the pros, he did not have to wait long for the main course. Just a few days after the Düsseldorf game, the nimble-footed teenager made his senior debut for the club in the UEFA Champions League, replacing Thomas Müller in the 81st minute of the 5-1 victory over Benfica.
Watch: Everything you need to know about Bayern
Plays a bit like: Franck Ribery
A winger, blessed with pace, technique, agility and a keen eye for goal, if Jeong keeps progressing at his current rate then he could very well be an almost like-for-like replacement for Ribery, who, at 35, is at the opposite end of his career.
Did you know?
Jeong has only been playing football for nine years, having previously practiced Taekwondo as a child. The Ulsan native doesn't speak any English, but is taking German lessons five times a week in order to help communication with team-mates and coaches. When he moved up to the reserves over the summer, he sang (and danced) Gangnam Style on his initiation into the team.
What they're saying
"I'm very happy and unbelievably proud to have played my first game for this huge club. I had goosebumps. It was an indescribable feeling that will stay with me forever." - Woo-yeong Jeong after making his Bayern debut
"If we sign a player from so far away then it's because we see his has the potential to develop. We owe it to him and his parents that he won't be here just to make up the numbers in a team." - Jochen Sauer, head of Bayern's youth academy