When 16-year old Nuri Sahin took to the field last weekend for Borussia Dortmund, he became the youngest ever Bundesliga player. Now the German national team wants to recuit him.
BVB's Sahin makes his presence felt at 16 years and 335 days
The German Football Federation (DFB) want Turkey's Under-17 international prodigy Nuri Sahin to play for their national team.
Last Saturday Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sahin became the youngest player to grace the Bundesliga at the age of 16 years and 335 days and that has put Germany on red alert.
"We would like to invite Nuri Sahin to a training course with us," declared DFB president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder. "The main condition for this is that he wants to play for Germany. He grew up in Germany and learnt to play football here so why should he not play for Germany?"
Sahin was born in the small West German city of Luedenscheid but played for Turkey as they won the recent Under-17 European championship. "I was actually born in Germany but feel more Turkish," said Sahin.
But if Sahin obtains German citizenship before his 21st birthday and does not represent Turkey at full international level, he would be permitted to choose between the two nations.
Germany have not been afraid of capping players from mixed backgrounds with many of Jürgen Klinsmann's team born abroad.
Kevin Kuranyi and Gerald Asamoah are striking partners at club and international level
Schalke 04 marksman Kevin Kuranyi was born in Rio and grew up in Brazil while his Schalke and Germany striking partner Gerald Asamoah was born in Mampong in Ghana. Another Germany forward, Mirolsav Klose, who has won a recall to the Germany squad for the friendly against the Netherlands this month, was born in Opole, Poland
The interest in the young Sahin caps an incredible week for the Dortmunder.
Sahin admitted he was thrilled at writing himself into the Bundesliga history books after becoming the youngest player to grace the German top-flight in last Saturday's 2-2 draw with VfL Wolfsburg.
At the age of 16 years and 335 days Sahin eclipsed the previous record of Eintracht Frankfurt goalkeeper Jürgen Friedl, who made his bow at the age of 17 years and 26 days, and the young Turk even had the honor of facing Argentine international Andres D'Alessandro in his first match.
"I had goose bumps before the game but I would not say I was nervous," said Sahin. "I think it was a decent performance on my Bundesliga debut and facing D'Alessandro was a fantastic experience.
"But I did not think about that too much. As soon as you step on the pitch you block out everything else and focus on football."
BVB salivating over Sahin's talents
Sahin, voted best player at the last under-17 European championship, has given suffering Dortmund fans something to cheer with BVB coach Bert van Marwijk describing him as one of the biggest talents he has ever seen. "He plays as smart as a 24-year-old, almost as though he has played with us for a long time," lauded van Marwijk
The coach is not the only member of the Dortmund hierarchy who is salivating over the talents of the youngster.
"He is the biggest talent that I've seen in a long time," said Dortmund business manager Hans-Joachim Watzke, who is determined to reverse BVB's trend of buying stars in the hope of repeating its 1997 Champions League triumph, a policy that contributed to Dortmund's near bankruptcy. "The young players are our future and therefore won't be sold," Watzke added.
The lesson of Lars
With all the praise heading his way, Sahin will need tendering if he is to keep his feet on the ground. But if the Turk needs any warning that the flush of youth and the hype that follows precocious talents then he has only to look across the dressing room at former German international midfielder Lars Ricken.
At the tender age of 17 Ricken was hailed as the golden boy of German football after scoring a fantastic 30 meter lob to seal Dortmund's 3-1 Champions League final win over Juventus in 1997.
Dortmund's Lars Ricken celebrates after scoring against Schalke 04 last season.
Ricken went on to play for the German national side but never really made an impact and at the age of 28 he is trying to resurrect his ailing career.
Sahin can not be labeled the golden boy of German football, mainly because he has a Turkish passport, but VfL Wolfsburg striker Mike Hanke insists people should not put too much pressure on the youngster's shoulders. "It is great to give young talent a chance," explained Hanke. "But it would be unwise to put too much pressure on him (Sahin) as there will be setbacks along the way."
The young Turk's impact on the game to date has not gone unnoticed. English Premiership giants Arsenal recently had a 2.8 million euro bid for Sahin turned down by Dortmund even though the club has acute financial problems.
Coveted abroad, valued at Dortmund
Unsurprisingly, Sahin has also been picked up on the radar of Chelsea, the English champions, and Manchester United.
"We could have cashed in 3 million euros from Arsenal for him, but Sahin is tied to us until 2009 and in a couple of years he is sure to be worth a lot more," Hans-Joachim Watzke revealed last week.
For now, the experience of turning out for BVB as the youngest ever Bundesliga player is enough for Sahin who has said he is just happy to be playing with the likes of Czech internationals Tomas Rosicky and Jan Koller.
Dortmund's Czech stars Tomas Rosicky and Jan Koller
But the young star admits the speed of the game is very different to what he experienced on the Dortmund youth team last season. "It's crazy…if I make a mistake here, Rosicky is gone with the ball," he said.