Teenage kicks: youthful highs and lows grab Bundesliga headlines

By Derek Wilson, dpa

Age is no barrier to contributing on the football pitch but sometimes a lack of experience can lead to off-field indiscretions.

Teenage life is not always easy and even the glitz and glamour of professional football sometimes cannot hide the fact players need time to mature.

Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho has actually exited his teenage years at age 20 and a few months but a poorly thought-out haircut cost him a fine from the German football league (DFL) and a telling off from his team-mates.

Florian Wirtz of Bayer Leverkusen wrote himself into the history books on Saturday by becoming the youngest-ever Bundesliga scorer at 17 years, 34 days. Yet coach Peter Bosz responded to his goal against Bayern Munich by reminding him he had a lot still to learn from the 4-2 defeat.

“This boy has his best lesson today since he started playing football,” Bosz said. “With his first three or four touches he has always lost the ball.”

Bayern are in seemingly unstoppable form as they charge towards another title and were already 3-1 up at half-time when Wirtz was substituted on.

Wirtz, says Bosz, is “a good and intelligent player. He’ll take it on board and learn that you have little time in the Bundesliga.”

Nonetheless, few that young would have the presence of mind or skill to turn French World Cup winning defender Lucas Hernandez before curling a beautiful shot past German World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

As historic goals go, it was a worthy successor to Nuri Sahin’s strike for Dortmund in 2005 aged 17 years, 82 days.

Dortmund, meanwhile, have had problematic headlines this week over players, including Sancho, being pictured having haircuts without the appropriate coronavirus hygiene measures being constantly in place.

Perhaps not the crime of the century but a reminder that even superstars rumoured for potential mega transfers can sometimes need direction.

“You have to give Jadon a bit of guidance,” said Emre Can, who netted the only goal against Hertha Berlin on Saturday. “Despite the things he sometimes does he is a super boy, also off the pitch.

“In such things you simply have to be smarter, more grown up. He cannot make such mistakes in the future, we are also responsible for that as a team.”

Sancho, who was one of the first Bundesliga players to start protests against racism following the death of George Floyd in American police custody, reacted angrily to being fined by the DFL in a hastily deleted tweet.

But when it mattered he delivered again as he helped set up Can’s winner to keep Dortmund on course for the Champions League.

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