What is the thought process behind Germany national team manager Joachim Low selecting Koln's blue-collar and late-blooming left-back Jonas Hector?
Here is Hector's out-of-the-ordinary ascension from mundane obscurity to being the newest member of the reigning FIFA World Cup champions.
"We [German management] want to get to know Jonas Hector better," Low said, per Deutsche Welle. "He's in good form for Koln."
|Credit: Bundesliga's official website.|
Seven years ago, then-Hannover 96 left-back Konstantin Rausch was teammates with German prodigies such as Dennis Dowidat, Richard Sukuta-Pasu, Sascha Bigalke, Sebastian Rudy and Toni Kroos at the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
It was another step for Rausch in his development to becoming a potential first-team regular for Germany.
Meanwhile, Hector was a 17-year-old hidden away at SV Auersmacher, who viewed the game as a hobby.
Two years later, the FIFA technical study group highlighted then-Bayern Munich left-back Bjorn Kopplin as an outstanding player for Germany at the 2009 U-20 World Cup:
- Attacking left-back.
- Mobile, good support play, hard-working and committed.
- Effective close control and skills.
- Strong dribbles/runs, composed finishing.
Unlike Kopplin, the scouting file on Hector would have been paper-thin.
He may have asked himself if he should have ventured outside of Auersmacher, a club located near the border of France, in his early teens to make him more visible to Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga clubs.
If a club, like say Bochum, offered him reassurances, would he be making a comfortable living out of the game he loves?
Hypothetically speaking, these questions could have entered his mind when he signed for Koln in 2010.
Being on the books of Koln proved he was the cream of the crop at amateur level.
Therefore, what was he doing wasting crucial years of his development at Auersmacher?
Koln management envisioned Hector as a poor man's David Alaba: Possesses high-character, has a midfield skill set, but tactically flexible enough to thrive at left-back.
Rated as the second-best defender in the 2. Bundesliga last season, per Kicker, Hector has not looked out of place making the step up to the Bundesliga.
Despite never starting a game for Germany at a youth World Cup and with only 11 games of Bundesliga experience, Low has backed Hector.
The defenders Low has selected for Germany, per Bundesliga's official website:
Jerome Boateng (FC Bayern), Erik Durm (Borussia Dortmund), Matthias Ginter (Borussia Dortmund), Jonas Hector (Koln), Benedikt Howedes (FC Schalke 04), Antonio Rudiger (VfB Stuttgart), Sebastian Rudy (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Shkodran Mustafi (Valencia CF).
|League Only 14-15||Benedikt Howedes||Erik Durm||Jonas Hector|
|Tackles Per Game||1.9||1.8||2.5|
|Tackle Success %||81.3||80.0||65.8|
|Tackles Per Foul||1.1||2.7||5.4|
|Fouls Per Game||1.7||0.7||0.5|
|Interceptions Per Game||3.3||2.4||1.3|
|Key Passes Per Game||0.1||0.7||0.8|
|Dribbles Per Game||0.3||1.0||1.5|
Howedes starting 88.9 percent of his Bundesliga games this season at centre-back should rule him out of contention.
Hector is superior to Durm in tackles per game, tackles per foul, fouls per game, goals scored, key passes per game and dribbles per game.
The 65.8 percent tackle success rate is a concern, but keep in mind Hector attempts more tackles per game (3.7) than Durm (2.2).
|League Only 14-15||Erik Durm||Jonas Hector|
|Kicker Overall Ranking||175/195||78/195|
|Kicker Defender Ranking||65/73||26/73|
|Bild Overall Ranking||194/232||143/232|
|Bild Defender Ranking||65/78||47/78|
Statistics aside, Hector is subjectively rated higher than Durm, according to Kicker and Bild, so there is logic to justify Low selecting Hector.
But what makes the situation odd is Koln have two substantially better Germans, who were excluded from Low's squad.
- Timo Horn: Was poor in the 4-3 defeat to Hoffenheim, but the 21-year-old goalkeeper is as talented as Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Horn started the season with four successive clean sheets in the Bundesliga.
- Kevin Vogt: Immense 23-year-old central midfielder who combines brutish physicality with technical excellence.
In 2005, then-Germany national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann punted on then-Koln centre-back Lukas Sinkiewicz, which left veteran Christian Worns bemused.
Hector is a gritty, hard-working and selfless player. But when you factor in Low's tendency to chop and change his defence, Hector's career as an international footballer could be as short-lived as Sinkiewicz's.
Will Hector care? No.
Having been an amateur four years ago, Hector will enjoy every second of his day in the sun for Die Mannschaft.
When not specified, statistics via WhoScored