Rising Stars of German Football: Goalkeepers
The young German brigades are certainly making the headlines for all the right reasons. Recently they won the UEFA European U-21 Championship title and when you add that to the U-19 and U-17 titles they won earlier, one clearly gets the picture of a very bright future for German football.
So this is probably the best time to take a look at some these rising stars and since there are so many, it is best to divide them into four parts, starting off with the goalkeepers.
René Adler is quite well known to most football fans around the world by now and most notably the German fans, as he has already represented his country at the highest level and has made quite a name for himself at the relatively young age of only 24. The hype surrounding him is certainly not without reason.
Born in the East German city of Leipzig, Adler made a fantastic debut for Bayer Leverkusen when he replaced the suspended first choice goalkeeper Butt, in a Bundesliga match against Schalke and immediately announced himself at the scene by pulling off a string of world class saves to help his team win the match.
He has not looked back since then, having made the Leverkusen ‘number 1 jersey’ his own and raking up 94 appearances in the process (up until the end of 2008/09 season). Adler’s performances have been very consistent throughout the last couple of seasons and it came as no surprise when he was voted the “Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper” of 2008.
Having represented Germany at the U-19 Championships, Adler was finally given his full international call-up in 2008 and was part of the Euro 2008 squad. However, he had to wait for some time before making his debut and he finally did so later that year in a World Cup qualifier against Russia. He performed admirably and pulled off some decent saves to seal a crucial victory for the Germans.
He is currently battling for the goalkeeping slot with Robert Enke and he has done his chances of representing his country in the upcoming World Cup no harm with yet another polished display in the recent friendly against South Africa.
Known for his superb reflexes, agility and aerial ability, Adler definitely has all the right attributes to become a world class goalkeeper. Only time will tell whether he can actually fulfill his undoubted potential but from what he has shown thus far, it is highly likely that he will soon be following in the footsteps of the legendary German goalkeepers.
Manuel Neuer burst onto the football scene in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round clash between Porto and Schalke on 5th March, 2008. The goalkeeping display put on show that day by Neuer is difficult to describe in words and it is no exaggeration to say that at times, it seemed rather unreal.
From point-blank saves to acrobatic stops, Neuer single handedly thwarted wave after wave of Porto attacks and took the match to penalties. He then put the icing on the cake by pulling off two brilliant penalty saves and thereby helping Schalke progress through to the quarter finals.
Even before that wonderful showing against Porto, Neuer was building up quite a good reputation for himself, ever since making his debut in the 2006/07 season.
His ability to make sharp reaction saves at crucial moments of a match has drawn accolades from football pundits all around. He is also very capable at handling crosses with ease and grace, thereby significantly reducing the workload of defenders around him.
So far he has played in 91 matches for the Bundesliga outfit, which is quite a lot considering the fact that he is still only 23. His consistent performances earned him the accolade of the “Best Bundesliga Goalkeeper: 2007”.
Manuel Neuer has attracted a lot of attention lately and should he decide to leave Gelsenkirchen in the future, he will most definitely not have a shortage of offers from potential suitors.
During the recently concluded summer transfer window, reports emerged regarding interest from both Manchester United and Bayern Munich. It was reported in certain quarters that Bayern see him as the successor to Oliver Kahn and will be willing to fork out as much as 20 million Euros for him, which is a mammoth transfer fee for a goalkeeper.
Anyways, the transfer deal didn’t actually go through but the fact that Neuer is considered as the person capable of stepping into Kahn’s boots speaks volumes about his abilities and further emphasizes the fact that he is one of the most talented goalkeepers of his generation.
As far as his international career is concerned, Neuer was part of the German U-21 team that recently won the UEFA U-21 Championship title. He earned his much awaited first international cap in a friendly match against United Arab Emirates, a few months back.
Even though he is currently acting as understudy to both Adler and Enke in the international setup, he is sure to give them a run for their money when it comes to the final decision regarding who gets to stand between the posts, in the next World Cup. So, don't write him off just yet.
Even at the young age of 21, Tobias Sippel has taken significant strides in his career. Sippel signed his first professional contract for Kaiserslautern in 2006 and made his debut for the club in the subsequent year.
Throughout the 2007/08 season he showed his potential by performing well for the second tier club and helped Kaiserslautern avoid relegation to the third division.
Just like Manuel Neuer, he was also part of the German U-21 Championship winning side. Even though he is probably not in the same class as Adler or Neuer, considering his age, he is undeniably a bright prospect for the future.As long as he keeps on playing first team football and is nurtured well enough, he should provide good competition for the aforementioned duo, in the years to come.
He may only be a 16-year-old kid, yet the widespread interest in him suggests that he is seriously talented. The majority of English and German clubs were interested in signing him when he was at Stuttgart, before he finally opted to sign for Manchester City.
Most of the clubs were alerted after Loris put in some good displays for Germany at the U-16 level. Even though it is difficult to judge the extent of his abilities at such an early stage of his career, being part of the renowned academy of Manchester City should help him develop as a player.
So he is certainly one to look out for in the future and don’t be surprised if you see this youngster standing between the posts at the City of Manchester Stadium, once Shay Given retires.
I guess it is fair enough to conclude by saying that Germany has always had a history of producing world class goalkeepers. From Sepp Maier to Oliver Kahn, the list really is an illustrious one and if the recent performances of some of the young German goalkeepers are anything to go by, the list of legendary goalkeepers will only continue to enlarge.
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