The 22-year-old defensive player has been under contract at Borussia Dortmund since July 2022. He previously played for Sportclub Freiburg.
''I'm keen on this club, and they gave me a vision that I was all on board for,'' said Schlotterbeck in an interview with BVB-TV. In Dortmund, the 22-year-old is opening a new chapter in a career that has so far progressed at a rapid pace. In June 2021, he became a European champion with the Germany U21 team, in March 2022, he made his debut in the senior national team, and in May 2022, he played in the cup final against Leipzig with his former club Freiburg (ultimately losing on penalties).
"Nico's path reminds me a little of my own, because I also came to BVB from Freiburg at the same age as a young international player,'' says sporting director Sebastian Kehl, going on to add: ''I hope that Dortmund will become a new home for him, just as it was for me back then. Nico has huge potential. Amid interest from a lot of clubs, he didn't pick the most financially lucrative offer, but rather chose BVB in order to further his development as a footballer. We are very pleased that we were able to convince Nico and that he has made a clear commitment to Borussia Dortmund by signing a long-term contract."
Nico Schlotterbeck comes from a family of footballers. His uncle Niels played for several clubs in the Bundesliga in the 1980s and 1990s (Stuttgarter Kickers, MSV Duisburg, Hansa Rostock), and Nico played alongside his older brother Keven, 25, during his time in Freiburg. They both took the first steps in the game at SG Weinstadt, 15 kilometres east of Stuttgart. "He was very, very passionate right from the start and always led from the front," his uncle recalled in an interview with SWR. From the age of eight to 15, Nico played for the Stuttgarter Kickers, but was not accepted into the U16 team in what was a "slap in the face" for the youngster (source: SWR Sport).
Schlotterbeck took a step back, played for VfR Aalen for a year, then joined Karlsruher SC, where he played in the U17 and U19 Bundesliga. In the summer of 2017, he moved to SC Freiburg. There he first played in the U19s and then celebrated his senior Bundesliga debut on 9 March 2019 in a 2-1 home win against Hertha BSC. Schlotterbeck was in the starting XI for the first three matchdays of the ensuing 2019/20 season, but only made ten further appearances, most of them brief, for the remainder of the campaign.
In the summer of 2020, Nico made the same move as his brother Keven had a year earlier: he went out on loan to Union Berlin. He scored his first Bundesliga goal on his debut for the club in Mönchengladbach (a 1-1 draw on 26 September 2020). A week later, however, he suffered a thigh injury that sidelined him until the middle of January 2021. After that, Schlotterbeck played his way back into the team - mostly on the left of a three-man backline - and, as his team's most successful tackler, played a big part in Union securing qualification for the UEFA Conference League as the seventh-placed team in the table. "Schlotterbeck obviously spent some of his time in Berlin gyms. Because the lanky lad who left Breisgau for Berlin in the summer of 2020 has turned into a model athlete," noted SWR Sport.
Instead of competing in Europe, however, it was back to Freiburg as agreed. Schlotterbeck helped set a new club record of just seven goals conceded in the first ten matchdays. At the end of the season, the team finished sixth in the league and reached the cup final. With a quota of 65% of challenges won, Schlotterbeck was Freiburg's best player in the tackle. His 73% success rate in aerial duels meant he was ranked third in the league. while only Union's Knoche and Stuttgart's Mavropanos intercepted more passes in 2021/22. Schlotterbeck is also quick on his feet and good in build-up play; basically, he has all the qualities required of a modern centre-back. Last season, he had the most ball contacts of all Freiburg players (an average of 72 per 90 minutes), he plays good vertical and diagonal passes and is a real danger from set-pieces. At free kicks, he often lurks at the far post: either to finish himself or to nod the ball back across the face of goal. In fact, he had more efforts on goal than any other defender in the league (38).