Borussia Dortmund are the sixth club that Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has played for as a professional player, having played for a total of 14 clubs in the past. The many clubs that he played for as a youngster are testament to the fact that his father Pierre was also a professional footballer who often moved clubs.
The Gabon international, who was born in western France and holds a French passport, has already left his mark on Borussia Dortmund. He was the first player in Dortmund’s history to start a season by scoring a hat trick (scoring 3 goals in Dortmund’s 4-0 win over Augsburg at the start of 2013/14 season). In his first two years at Dortmund, he was a consistent goal threat with 12 and then 16 league goals. In the 2014/15 season, he scored 25 goals in all competitions.
One of these was the type of penalty that you can only score when you’re brimming with confidence. A lobbed penalty shot contributed to their 2-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt during a point in the season where the team couldn’t afford to lose any more points. That said, it was a calculated lob: “I acted exactly in relation to what the goalkeeper was doing”.
Another of his weapons is his speed. He could be as fast as 100 metre record holder Usain Bolt – at least for the first 30 metres. He says himself: “without a doubt, my speed is my biggest asset. Having room helps me to use this. I need – and want – to improve my speed when space is tight.”
Aubameyang isn’t a classic winger who shines as a playmaker, more as a finisher who feels more at home in the middle of attack. The Gabon international explains: “Up front, I can run in all different directions, left, right and in behind. Up front, I am different to how I am on the wing, where I have to run back and forth on along the line, I’m not fixed.”
The attacker, who is so extroverted on the pitch, is reserved and shy in person who is very family oriented. His brothers – he has two biological brothers – are often in Dortmund, at least for the most important games. And then there is a brother in spirit: Marco Reus. “We get on well off the pitch, which naturally contributes to how we play together,” says Aubameyang, adding: “yes, we’re like brothers.”
He has already had to make changes and move around a lot in his career. And, interestingly, he has always made these troublesome moves. As an 18 year old, he arrived at world renowned AC-Milan. However, he failed to establish himself there and was put on loan; first to Dijon, in Ligue 2, then to Lille, Monaco and finally St. Etienne. Not glittering top-flight clubs, but clubs that made him strong and hardened him up.
It is definitely this unusual framework that is so fascinating about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He says himself: “I’m happy doing what I want. I style my hair how I like it. And although it doesn’t seem like it, I am an extremely calm and shy person. I’m not going to change who I am.”
Not that he needs to, especially since his performance charts in Dortmund have improved far more than when he was playing in the South of France. At St. Etienne, who bought him after 6 months on loan, he was constantly improving. Gernot Rohr, who got to know him as the Gabon manager (from 2010-12), said: “He’s a good young man, a nice guy, not a liar or show-off”.