Three young footballers have won gold in Germany's most prestigious youth football award. The Fritz Walter Medal recognises young talent in four categories, and this year includes an expensive Bundesliga defender.
Jonathan Tah, Felix Passlack and Pauline Bremer are Germany's brightest young footballers of 2015 after being awarded gold in their respective categories of this year's Fritz Walter Medals. The three will be awarded their gold medals on September 4.
The award covers four sections - U19, U18 and U17 for the men and the most promising women's youth player - and has a gold, silver and bronze medal winner for each group. Many medal winners have gone on to becoming leading stars in the Bundesliga and even become World Cup winners. To name but a few, Manuel Neuer won U19 silver in 2005, Toni Kroos won U18 gold in 2008 and World Cup Final hero Mario Götze secured U18 gold in 2010. Last year, the U19 bronze winner was Joshua Kimmich, who recently signed for Bayern Munich, while the U18 gold medal winner was Leverkusen's talented attacking midfielder Julian Brandt.
Gold winners receive 20,000 euros ($22,000), with 15,000 and 10,000 euros handed to silver and bronze winners respectively. Perhaps more importantly than the financial return is that the clubs who developed the talents also benefit. This year, more than 100,000 euros is expected to be awarded to regional clubs.
Fritz Walter winning the 1954 World Cup
Talent with strong personalities
Bayer Leverkusen's latest signing Jonathan Tah beat Stuttgart's Timo Werner and Red Bull Salzburg's Lukas Klostermann to the gold. "Jonathan Tah is one of Germany's most talented defensive players," said Germany's sporting director Hansi Flick. "The calmness he portrays for his age is remarkable. With the right attitude, he can continue his development in Leverkusen."
Borussia Dortmund's Felix Passlack won the U17 award ahead of Niklas Dorsch (Bayern Munich) and Constantin Frommann (Freiburg). "Alongside his football qualities, Felix Passlack has great leadership qualities, which he showed at the U17 European Championships in Bulgaria," said Flick. "His manner on and off the pitch is exactly what we would expect from a leader." Passlack has the chance to put the icing on the cake later in the year when Germany's youngster head to Chile to try and win the U17 World Cup.
19-year-old Pauline Bremer has won gold in the women's category ahead of Nina Ehegötz (Cologne) and Laura Freigang (Schott Mainz). Bremer made her Germany debut in April 2014, and four months later she captained the U20's to the Women's World Cup title in Canada. She returned to North America this year as the youngest member of Germany's 2015 World Cup squad. Bremer, who won the silver Fritz Walter Medal in 2014, moved to Olympique Lyon from Turbine Potsdam. "Pauline Bremer is a very talented player who has a great personality," said Germany head coach Silvia Neid.