A Bundesliga debut can hardly go more perfectly. Only on the day before the game against VfL Wolfsburg (16 April 2022) did A-youth player Tom Rothe find out that he would be making his Bundesliga bow. Aged 17 years, five months and 18 days, the youngster not only made the starting XI but headed home the opening goal to make it 1-0 in the 24th minute too.
That meant that in addition to becoming the eighth-youngest debutant in the Black & Yellows' Bundesliga history, Rothe was also our youngest-ever player to put the ball in the opposition net on his first appearance. He labelled his unexpected debut "indescribable", adding: "It couldn't have gone any better." Team captain Marco Reus said: "Sensational! You could see that we have a good youth system. Tom was of course nervous to begin with, as all of us were for our first game. He took the goal brilliantly. After that, the pressure was off and he had a sensational game."
It wasn't only the two senior appearances – he came on as a substitute in the game against Bochum a fortnight later – that made 2021/22 a successful season for Tom Rothe. He also became a Bundesliga champion with the U19s and reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Youth League. He even notched three assists in the play-off round – a 5-3 win over Empoli. The only disappointment for the U19 international was probably the surprise loss to Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal final.
Tom Rothe was born on 29 October 2004 and grew up in Rendsburg, 100 kilometres north of Hamburg. The 1.92m-tall defender laced his boots for St. Pauli from 2018 onwards, before making the move to BVB in the summer of 2021. He has won admirers in Dortmund not only for his tough tackling, but for his consistently precise diagonal balls in behind the opposition lines as well. He has also made the most of his aerial presence going forward – as demonstrated by his first senior goal against Wolfsburg.