In the summer of 2019 - in a repeat of the move he made back in 2008 - Mats Hummels joined Borussia Dortmund from Bayern Munich. Hummels - the Black & Yellow captain from 2014 to 2016, a Bundesliga title winner in 2011 and 2012, the defensive leader in the landmark and still-unmatched double-winning season in 2011/12 - is, in Michael Zorc’s words: ''Not only an experienced Bundesliga player, who always give his all, but also a very important leader both on and off the pitch.''
''One of the most important reasons for me was having the chance to take on a leadership role. In addition to playing for a very good team, of course,'' said Hummels after his move back to BVB. The centre-back was named in the starting XI 31 times in the 2019/20 season and won 64% of his tackles - the highest rate in the BVB squad. His 70% success rate in aerial duels placed him in the top four players in this category across the entire league. Hummels averaged 92 possessions of the ball per game and only 10% of his passes failed to find their target; this despite playing more long balls than any other Black & Yellow - 62% of his 242 attempts arrived safely at the feet of a teammate.
''Mats Hummels is in my opinion Germany’s best central defender,'' says Michael Zorc. In his first spell in Dortmund (January 2008 to June 2016), Hummels turned out 309 times for the Black & Yellows and scored 25 goals. Going into the coming season, the defender has made a total of 467 appearances in the Bundesliga, the DFB Cup and European club competitions. He has won 70 senior caps for Germany.
Mats Hummels was born in Bensberg, near Cologne. He played for Bayern Munich from the age of seven, where his father was a youth coach. He played up front at the start of his career and, by his own account, he ''scored goals for fun'' But father Hermann and his coaches soon recognised that the youngster was blessed with even more quality down the defensive end of the pitch. Bit by bit, they retrained Mats to become the multi-talented defender he is today.
During the 2005/06 season, Hummels was called up to play in the Regionalliga with the Bayern Munich U23 side led by coach Hermann Gerland. By 1 January 2007, he’d secured himself a professional contract. His first appearance in the Bundesliga came on the last day of the 2006/07 season against FSV Mainz 05. Funnily enough, he lined up against his future centre-back partner at BVB - Neven Subotic - who was also making his debut Bundesliga appearance.
After 12 years spent at Bayern, Hummels moved to Borussia Dortmund at the start of 2008. His first appearance in Black & Yellow came in a 1-0 DFB Cup win over Werder Bremen on 29 January. He went on to play in the quarter-final and semi-final wins but was left out of the final (a 2-1 a.e.t. defeat to Bayern) by then head coach Thomas Doll. However, in the years to come, Hummels would go on to play in five finals for BVB - more than any other player in club history. During his time as a Dortmund player, he achieved football’s greatest honour: winning the World Cup in 2014. He was the only defender to be nominated for the Golden Ball award for best player at the tournament. Hummels played a key role in Germany’s success, and not just from a defensive point of view. He scored two goals en route to the trophy, including the winner in the 1-0 quarter-final victory over France.
Hummels embodies the modern vision of the beautiful game, intelligently building up play from the back and using his anticipation to break up opposition attacks. More often than not, he gets to the ball before opposition strikers and barely commits any fouls. He possesses extraordinary technical ability, exceptional aerial prowess and a monk-like sense of zen when it comes to pressure situations. He impresses through his calm and confident performances and his excellent positional play. In possession, the 31-year-old (born 16 December 1988) often takes up the role of playmaker, bringing the offensive players into the game with his accurate long balls forward. It’s no wonder that opposing teams often look to press him.
One of the values that parents Hermann and Ulla passed on to him was that ''you don’t always get what you want.'' Already as a youth international, Hummels’ modesty shone through. When the youth squad was invited to watch the senior team play, Hummels chose not to travel to the stadium in the ''VIP shuttle.'' Instead, he made the journey in a packed U-Bahn train with the rest of the fans.
Mats Hummels is married and has one son.