Marco Reus might be 14 years David Beckham's junior, but Germany's most prized footballer has a number of remarkable things in common with the football icon. Jonathan Harding explains.
When Marco Reus went down after a heavy challenge in Dortmund's cup game against Dresden, the commentator said: "The entire nation has just breathed in nervously." Apart from perhaps most Schalke fans, this really is how Germany feels about Marco Reus. While Mario Götze might have scored the winner for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, it's Reus that is the country's prized footballing asset. With that in mind, perhaps David Beckham isn't an absurd comparison to make.
Let's look at the evidence. Like Beckham then and now, Reus is starting to market himself in a way that millions of young men, football fans or not, are adopting. His hairstyle is one of the original short sides, frozen-stiff-with-wax tops - Beckham sported it once, amongst others. Reus is one of Puma's biggest clients and even sported different colored boots for a spell - which, like Beckham's Adidas Predators, grew trendy. Reus has also developed handshakes for different teammates. No doubt that as you read this there are endless numbers of amateur footballers across the world exchanging greetings that Marco would approve of.
So far it's hard to disagree, although Reus has got Beckham beat when it comes to injuries. Beckham had his fair share over his career, but in the last 15 months Reus has suffered from four major injuries. Oh and not only did Reus actually miss a World Cup due to injury - Beckham recovered in time to make the 2002 one - but he missed out on a winning campaign, something Beckham can only watch black and white videos of.
Despite the injuries, Reus has still been doing it on the pitch. Which, in truth is what counts. You can't be a superstar (or perhaps a superhero is more appropriate for Marco) if you aren't regularly performing exceptionally. Last season, Reus notched 16 goals and assisted 13 in the league. After returning from injury this season, he has scored five goals and assisted one in his last seven games. Although Beckham wasn't a winger in the same way Reus is, the pair both delivered under pressure.
Reus might not be spotted sporting his own underwear on billboards across Germany, but his use of the world's favorite three emoticons has been used on his own MRXI fashion label (a must for any modern football superstar). This, of course, is linked through his own smart and simple website. The internet, social media in particular, offers him a platform Beckham never really had when he was playing. The all-encompassing manner of Twitter, for example, means it's never been easier for Reus to communicate with his near two million followers.
Granted, Reus has some time left in the game. A big money move abroad beckons (and, at the rate of development, will surely happen) and perhaps even greater global recognition. More intriguingly is whether Reus will undertake the same sort of off-field growth that Beckham did. In 1998, Beckham changed his hair every six months and sounded like a footballer lost in clichés. Now, he wears immaculate suits and interviews with a calm intelligence. Were Reus to do the same, he'd become a modern-era first for Germany - and at a time when German football is more popular than ever.
Of course, Reus would also have to expand his charitable work, get a few more tattoos and marry a successful and memorable woman, but for the comparison not to be completely laughed off certainly does say a lot about how far the 25-year-old could go.