He is a man of superlatives. Youngest Bundesliga player at the age of 16 years and 355 days, youngest Bundesliga goal scorer (17 years, 81 days), youngest Turkish national team player, youngest goal scorer in the kit of Turkey, when he scored against Germany on 8 October 2005 in a 2-0 victory.
An explosive start. Arsene Wenger, head coach at Arsenal, said at the time: “worldwide, Sahin is the most talented player under 18.” What an accolade for the young Sahin. At 19, the man from Meinerzhagen married Tugba. The wedding, according to Sahins father, should have taken place with “only the closest family friends.” Over 370 people attended.
However, even for Sahin, who in his first Bundesliga season (2005/2006) became a top assist maker at BVB, the unwritten rules of professional football came into effect. It is more difficult to stay at the top than to get there. In 2006/2007 he completed the full distance on only three occasions and was only involved in one goal. Subsequently, he followed the advice of his mentor Bert van Marwijk, and went on loan at Feyernoord.
It was there that he became not only a starting player, but also a top performer (29 appearances, six goals, five assists) before returning to Dortmund, where initially, people were skeptical. Jürgen Klopp said at the time: “To be honest, if a club had come in and wanted to sign him, I wouldn’t have been the person to say no.”
In the summer of 2008, Besiktas made enquiries as to taking him to Istanbul, but the loyal character “didn’t want to leave”. Nuri stayed, fought through and took charge of the game, where he was the pivot of the 2011 Bundesliga winning side and was duly voted by his Bundesliga colleagues as “player of the season.” Following this he was poached by Real Madrid. “It is the biggest stage at which a footballer can play and hope to have an international career. It is only for this reason that I am leaving Dortmund,” he said at the time.
612 days later he had returned. With the raw, open and honest confession: “As a footballer and as a person I am at 100% at Borussia Dortmund. I am ecstatic to be coming home.” In September 2014, BVB acquired the transfer rights to Sahin back from Real Madrid. In 2013/2014 he was the only Dortmund player to appear in every single Bundesliga game, starting 31 times. The year after was one to forget however. He was kept out of the first half of the season by a knee injury and, just as he was starting to get stronger, his season was ended by another injury. At 26 years of age he said: “what I have experienced so far in my career would have been plenty for the career of a 36 year old.”
Sahin was born in Lüdenscheid and grew up in Meinerzhagen. He stopped school due to his burgeoning professional career and thus dropped his A-levels but instead was trained in the area of media studies. With Turkish U17s he won the European championship in May 2005 and was also voted player of the tournament. At the subsequent U17 World Championships he came third with his team and also in the voting for best player. At BVB he went straight from the B-team to the seniors.
Sahin is technically gifted, an excellent dribbler and takes responsibility during critical moments of play. The 26 year old understands how to close down quickly, fill spaces and set up plays. All with incredible precision.