When Borussia Dortmund visit Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League round of 16, Jadon Sancho will return to England for the first time since joining the German club from Manchester City in 2017; we pay homage to a teenager who “can become one of the best wingers in the world”.
Name: Jadon Sancho
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Debut: 21 October 2017 v Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga)
Position: attacking midfield
Born: 25 March 2000
Preferred foot: Right
They say …
“Jadon Sancho is already playing a key role at a very young age. He has unbelievable dribbling ability.”
Dortmund coach Lucien Favre
“It’s been a brave decision by him to play in the Bundesliga, but he is playing in front of big support every week. He’s dealing with that and excelling.”
England coach Gareth Southgate
“Jadon’s doing really well. If he stays like this and keeps working hard he can become one of the best wingers in the world. He reminds me of Eden Hazard, and there’s no reason he can’t be as good as him one day.”
Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel
“His timing, his decision-making; he can adapt in different situations, if you are aggressive with him he’ll pop the ball off, if you stand off him he’ll beat you. He’s so young, the sky really is the limit.”
Manchester City and England midfielder Fabian Delph
“He is a really good talent and someone I’ve thought highly of since the first time I saw him at Manchester City when he was training with us in pre-season. I know him really well and he’s really modest, but when he’s on the field he wants to express his ability.”
Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling
Raised in south London, Sancho left Kennington – home to the world-famous cricket ground – for Watford permanently when he was 11. After excelling in the Hornets’ academy, he moved north three years later to join Manchester City, earning junior international recognition and inspiring England to the 2017 UEFA European Under-17 Championship final, where they came within seconds of beating Spain (with goals from Callum Hudson-Odoi and Phil Foden) before losing on penalties.
Sancho left City for Borussia Dortmund later that year, inheriting the No7 shirt from Barcelona-bound Ousmane Dembélé. The Londoner initially flitted between BVB’s youth and first team, but kicked on after scoring his first Bundesliga goal in April 2018, when he became the youngest Englishman to find the net in Germany’s top flight, establishing himself in attacking midfield as 2018/19 progressed.
Playing style …
Sancho’s exhilarating ability to beat a man in one-on-one duels – often from a standing start – has been beyond dispute since his even younger years, but he has demonstrated plenty of creative flair, too. Take, for example, the angled through ball he played for Jacob Bruun Larsen in the 3-0 UEFA Champions League win against Monaco in October 2018.
Sancho is a prototype modern attacking midfielder, his pace and goal threat allowing him to flourish on either flank while his eye for a pass makes him equally comfortable in a central role.
Shades of …
“Provided he doesn’t become restricted he could be our Neymar-type player – in terms of being unpredictable, playing on that left-hand side,” said Sancho’s former England U16 coach, Dan Micciche.
Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc, meanwhile, recalled a current Barcelona player when discussing Sancho. “He can do things I have rarely seen,” said Zorc. “Even though he’s a different type of player, he reminds me of Ousmane Dembélé.”
Eureka moment …
While his first senior goal – which arrived alongside a pair of assists in a 4-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen in April 2018 – was an achievement, it was at the beginning of 2018/19 under the tutelage of Favre that Sancho began to assume more responsibility.
An impressive first half of the season followed as Dortmund climbed to the Bundesliga summit, with the most notable of Sancho’s several important contributions coming when he scored the winner – a typically expert finish from a tight angle – in a hard-fought derby against local rivals Schalke in early December 2018.
Best-case scenario …
Maintain this level of performance and Sancho, who made his international debut in October 2018, should make the trip to the UEFA Nations League Finals with England in June. There is also, of course, the small matter of a trophy tilt with Dortmund at club level before that: “I’m happy to be a part of this club and want to make history with it,” he said recently.
He says …
“I have to say thank you to the manager [Favre] for playing and trusting me. It’s a noisy stadium and it’s not every day that you get to play in front of 80,000 people. I’m just grateful.”
“I was kind of surprised when they offered the No7 shirt to me, but I realised: why not? I believe in myself, so why not?”
“I would say I’m a bit tricky, direct and just confident. I believe in myself in one-on-one situations. I used to look at Ronaldinho, growing up, on YouTube. I just liked how he used to carry his team sometimes … and obviously he used to try things that no one else would try.”