German league and cup winner. Italian league winner. Champions League winner too – although he was not actively involved in the competition in 2013, at which point he was only 19 years old. But three and five years later respectively, he played in the 2016 Europa League and 2018 Champions League finals with Liverpool. Emre Can knows how to win titles and reach big finals.
Since 31 January 2020, the versatile defensive player has been part of the Borussia Dortmund squad. "A player who, in addition to his technical ability, brings physical attributes and has a strong desire to win," said sporting director Michael Zorc. The numbers are certainly impressive! Emre Can won 61 percent of his challenges in the second half of last season, making him the toughest-tackling midfielder in the Bundesliga! Having lost his first two matches with BVB, the winter signing called on his new team to "play nasty" from time to time. And it seemed to work: Dortmund conceded only four goals in their last 11 Bundesliga matches with Can in the side.
Emre Can was born on 12 January 1994 to Turkish parents living in Frankfurt am Main. He played for the Eintracht youth team for three years (2006 to 2009) and then joined the Bayern Munich U17s. On 12 August 2012, he made his first-team debut in the 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the Super Cup. Six months later, on 13 April 2013, he played his first Bundesliga match. In the season in which Bayern won the treble – the Bundesliga, DFB Cup, UEFA Champions League (2012/13) – the youngster was given game time in both domestic competitions.
"It was a tough place, there's no doubt about it," he said of those early years in the north-west of Frankfurt in an interview with the members' magazine Borussia (April 2020 issue). "You learn to be strong; you learn to show respect in everything you do; you learn to share and you learn to choose the right path – or the wrong one. Fortunately, I was able to choose the right one. But I saw how other young people – friends of mine from school – turned to drugs. I was lucky to have the support of my family and friends when I needed it. As for football, I learned that you have to try your hardest and give everything you've got if you want to win. We used to play on an asphalt pitch, and the only thing that mattered to us was winning – we didn't care where people came from. Don't get me wrong, you can learn a lot from losing. But winning feels so much better. I hate losing."
Can has represented Germany at every youth level starting from the U15s and made his senior international debut in a EURO qualifier against Poland in his home city of Frankfurt on 4 September 2015. He was a regular in the Germany team that won the 2017 Confederations Cup too.
Can joined Bayer 04 Leverkusen ahead of the 2013/14 season and was signed by Liverpool just one year later, where he played a total of 167 games between 2014 and 2018. "In England, it's all about playing exciting football, with crunching tackles and precise long balls. It's different to Italy, where the focus is placed on tactics. I'm very grateful for the experiences I had at my previous clubs. I matured both as a footballer and as a person. The time spent abroad was cool."
Prior to the 2018/19 season, he moved to Italian Serie A club Juventus, where he was a regular and played a decisive role in winning the league in 2019. However, he was only included in the starting XI twice following the managerial change that took place in the run-up to the 19/20 season. In January 2020, he decided to move to BVB. "I've always had a soft spot for this club," he said. He has no regrets about how his career has panned out to date. "If someone had told me this 10 years ago, I wouldn't have believed them. I will never regret any of those steps, because I learned something everywhere. And I now have big ambitions with BVB!"