Berlin Germany | XINHUA | Borussia Dortmund remains a fountain of youth. No matter how challenging times might be, the Black and Yellow’s always seem to have an ace up their sleeves.
Ahead of the quarterfinal second leg against Manchester City this Wednesday evening, it is 19-year-old Ansgar Knauff lifting the mood around the Champions League underdog.
While the possible departure of goal-machine Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho’s injury seems to cause ongoing unrest, a new star is emerging.
Outpacing established forces such as Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard, the son of a Ghanaian father and a German mother has made stunning debuts in the first leg against the Citizens and the national league with scoring his first goal to secure his side’s 3-2 win at Stuttgart.
Speed, youthful nonchalance, and courage seem the ingredients required to create a miracle against the Premier League side after the 2-1 defeat last week.
Despite Knauff’s on-pitch contribution, the gifted youngster enhances the club’s reputation to provide fertile soil for promising top talents.
Knauff made his way to Dortmund from a youth team in his native town Gottingen in 2016 after meeting Borussia’s former coach Juergen Klopp.
Being appointed “man of the tournament” at a promotion tournament in 2014, it was the current Liverpool manager who noticed him.
Photos show the then Dortmund coach with a young boy full of pride and admiration to be praised by one of his idols.
Klopp triggered the attention of the club’s talent scouts in the direction of an outstanding talent ahead of the curve in his early years and invited him for a training session.
“I am flattered by all that happened to me over the past week,” the Dortmund winger said. “I just want things to continue that way,” he added.
Finishing school with a secondary certificate, Knauff entirely focused on his football career, showing discipline might pay off in the end. The club rewarded his form with a professional contract until 2023.
At the age of 15, he joined Dortmund’s talent academy with his mother’s approval.
“Dortmund is well known for 19-year-old youngsters scoring winning goals,” coach Edin Terzic said. Knauff is Dortmund’s fifth scorer under 20 this season. 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko is the youngest.
A fact that seems to glue things together for Borussia. 17-year-old Jude Bellingham tweeted, “Halloooo superstar,” next to a photo showing Knauff in a victory pose.
Seven points behind the league’s Champions League spots, it’s Dortmund’s bunch of youngsters having to rescue a so-far disappointing season. A surprise against the Sky-Blues and the chance to win the German Cup are Dortmund’s remaining options to attract attention.
While Borussia is still struggling for success this season, the 2012 German Champion has added another puzzle piece to its squad, standing for future optimism. “Looking at last week’s developments, things still appear unbelievable for me. It’s on me to keep on track,” Dortmund’s new hope said.