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 his 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.
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-Pokal 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 defeat to Bayern after extra time) 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. He won 76 caps for Germany in total. After a three-year break from international football, he was called back up to the national squad for the European Championship in 2021 and played in all four tournament games for the German national team.
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. In 417 Bundesliga games, he has committed only 289 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 34-year-old 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.
From 2016 to 2019, he again wore the colours Bayern Munich, where he won the league three times and the cup once. He can still remember the moment when Hans-Joachim Watzke threw out the decisive bait for him to return. "He asked me if I wanted to be really important again, to be a real leader again," he said in the Borussia member magazine (January 2021 issue): "I realised how much I wanted to do that. How extremely enticing it is."
Since his return in the summer of 2019, he has played in 117 of the 136 possible Bundesliga games, and last season (2022/23) he started in 24 of the 34 games and came on as a substitutes in a further six matches. With him on the pitch, BVB conceded a goal every 92 minutes on average (22 in 2020 minutes), without him, that figure was considerably worse, with the Black and Yellows conceding a goal every 47 minutes (22 in 1040 minutes). His build-up play was outstanding: Despite playing several long balls, his passing accuracy was once again over 90 percent. Football magazine kicker listed him as the eighth-best player of the season.
Mats Hummels is the last remaining double winner of 2012 in the squad of Borussia Dortmund. He wants to not be only seen as a bridge between that golden era and the current one – he wants to carry on to the next era! 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.
In total, he has 586 appearances in the Bundesliga, the DFB-Pokal and in European club football. He has scored at least once in 15 Bundesliga seasons in a row – a record among active players. And he's not done yet. "Everyone knows how much I feel at home in Dortmund and how much I enjoy playing in front of our fantastic fans in our stadium. I didn't take the decision lightly. It was a long process of consideration before I came to a decision. Now, at the end of the season, I can say I feel young enough to go on for another year," Hummels said in May 2023 when he signed a contract extension until June 2024. I am delighted about this," stressed Hans-Joachim Watzke: "BVB and Mats just belong together."
Mats Hummels has one son.