Borussia Dortmund's youth player Youssoufa Moukoko will represent Germany again after a two-and-a-half-year break. The 15-year-old has been invited by the DFB (German football association) to play for the German U19 team in the European Championship qualifiers against Wales, Austria and Serbia at the end of March. The club and his parents have deliberately kept the young player out of the spotlight in recent years.
“Youssoufa is an exceptional talent who has been and is still exposed to a massive hype at a very, very young age. We, like the player and his family, thought it was important and right for him to take a break from the national team," explained Borussia Dortmund's youth coordinator Lars Ricken, adding: "Only in this way could Youssoufa concentrate on the really essential things in life, and mature not only on the pitch and at school, but also as a person. In the course of this development process, which is far from complete, but is on the right track, we now think it makes sense for Youssoufa to take the next step and play for Germany again. We have been working in close contact with him, his family and the DFB on this matter at all times. Being able to wear the German national team shirt is his big dream. We are happy for Youssoufa that this dream is coming true again."
The striker last played for the German U16 side in October 2017, when he was 12 years old (four games, three goals). "Together we have now come to the conclusion that a suitable time has come for his next development step at national team level," said Meikel Schönweitz, responsible for the youth national teams at the DFB.
Since the start of this season Youssoufa, who celebrated his 15th birthday in November last year, has played for Borussia Dortmund's U19 side – and of course he continues to set age group records here (among others the youngest player and youngest scorer in the UEFA Youth League), but a certain normality has been established in the life of the highly talented footballer. This is precisely because he is reaching his natural limits. "I have already noticed that this is another level. The opponents play even harder than in the U17s. And when you face players who are already very big and athletic, it's just different than against guys who are two years younger," he told the December issue of “Borussia.”
Born in Cameroon, he moved with his mother as a nine-year-old to Hamburg to be with his father. He first played in the youth team of FC St. Pauli and since the summer of 2016 at Borussia Dortmund. "Sometimes I sit in my room and wonder how it all came about, how quickly this all happened. These days I play in the Youth League against Barcelona, Milan or Prague – and a few years ago I just enjoyed having a kick around with friends for fun."
On 20 November, 2020, this particular talent celebrates his 16th birthday. If the DFL General Assembly approves a corresponding motion from Borussia Dortmund at the end of March, he would then be able to play in the Bundesliga. National team manager Oliver Bierhoff supports this move: "We are talking about absolutely exceptional cases, but for certain players it makes sense." The DFL Commissions for Football and Junior Performance Centres are also calling for a lowering of the age limit, in line with European standards. For example, Romelu Lukaku (RSC Anderlecht, 16 years, 3 months, 9 days), Martin Ödegaard (Real Madrid, 16 years, 5 months, 6 days) or Ansu Fati (FC Barcelona, 16 years, 9 months, 25 days) have already played in the UEFA Champions League in recent years. In the Bundesliga, this has not been possible in the past. The youngest player in history is Nuri Sahin, who made his Bundesliga debut on 6 August 2005 at the age of 16 years and 335 days – as a Borussia Dortmund player. The rule still applies that players must either be 18 years old or are part of the younger generation of the U19s in order to get the green light to play in the Bundesliga.
"This motion is not about breaking a record," Lars Ricken explains in the March edition of the BVB members magazine, "but rather that we allow Youssoufa at least the option of being able to play in the Bundesliga at the age of 16. At the end of this season, after three years in U17 and U19 teams, he will have scored around 120 to 130 goals in the junior leagues. Accordingly, it makes sense to take him up to the highest level. We don’t want to make the heavy burden of expectation any bigger than it already is."