This week’s UEFA.com wonderkid is a teenage full-back who is a regular for his club and, as of last Friday, a full German international after making his debut against San Marino. Introducing Bayer Leverkusen’s Benjamin Henrichs.
Name: Benjamin Henrichs
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Debut: 20 September 2015 v Borussia Dortmund
Born: 23 February 1997
Preferred foot: right
They say …
“Henrichs has played various positions for Leverkusen. It is interesting how he has coped switching from the left to the right side without any problems. I have seen some really good things from him in the Bundesliga and the Champions League.”
Germany coach Joachim Löw
“He has worked hard to gain the necessary physique for this level, but of course you need technical class as well. That doesn’t just mean skills on the ball, but also tactical sense. In that regard, he has made a huge step up. He is outstanding defending in one-on-one situations – it’s incredibly hard to get past him. His development is extraordinary.”
Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt
Born to a German father and Ghanian mother, Henrichs joined Leverkusen at the age of seven. He made his senior debut in front of 80,000 fans in Dortmund last September and gained an increasing amount of playing time in the second half of the 2015/16 season. He was not involved in the first Bundesliga game of this campaign but has not missed a minute of league or European action since.
Playing style …
Leverkusen’s approach under Schmidt requires players to be versatile, strong and attack-minded. Henrichs ticks all the boxes. He has been used successfully in both full-back positions, showing eagerness to recover the ball quickly after losing possession. He is quick and has good anticipation.
Shades of …
Henrichs was predominantly used as an attacking midfielder in the latter stages of his youth career but has made rapid progress as a full-back for the senior side. His stature, versatility, resilience and industry have drawn comparisons with Dortmund and Poland defender Łukasz Piszczek.
Eureka moment …
Following his senior debut, Henrichs had to focus on school work and could not assert himself in the first team. Schmidt still invited him to join the Wekself’s winter 2015 training camp and it was in Florida where the youngster grasped his opportunity. In the second half of the season, he made nine competitive outings.
Best-case scenario …
Henrich’s recent performances, such as the one against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, convinced Joachim Löw to call him up to the national team. Aged 19, Henrichs is already a UEFA Champions League regular and is in contention to become Germany’s long-term right-back.
He says …
“When Joachim Löw called me [to tell me I was in the Germany squad] I was in a restaurant with my friends. I looked for a quiet place and listened. It was a lot of fun playing for Germany and I still have not fully come to terms with everything that has happened.”