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Jadon Sancho went to Germany to prove himself – will others follow?

Jadon Sancho plays live questions on German television. The decor lies in the idyllic blue Mediterranean Sea and a glorious winter sun in which Borussia Dortmund has led its midwinter training camp in Marbella.

In the luxurious Gran Melia Hotel where they stay, there is a small uproar about the English teenager.

& # 39; How do you feel that you are a star? & # 39; Comes the question for the 18-year-old from Kennington, South London. & # 39; Ha! & # 39; He exclaims and laughs at the absurdity of it all. & # 39; I am not a star! I just started. & # 39;

Jadon Sancho takes a glorious winter sun during a training camp in the winter

In the luxurious Gran Melia Hotel there is a small rumor about the English teen star

He is half the same, or of course. He would be unwise at the age of 18 to take everything for granted and he seems to realize that if his work ethic ever goes down, this exponential advance will soon level off.

Sancho, however, is a real young star in Germany. He only matured in March, but by the end of 2018 he has the second most assisting in the Bundesliga this season, he scored seven goals for Dortmund, has three English caps and is in one side six points free at the top of the League.

To link this up, his career is likely to be similar to Wayne Rooney at a comparable age. Admittedly, Rooney started at 4 pm, although he was physically more mature.

Sancho achieves similar statistics as Rooney at 6 pm, but does so in a club that is challenging for the league title and the Champions League. (Rooney joined Manchester United at 6pm, but only two months before his 19th birthday.)

There is one more thing. Sancho does all this in a different country and far beyond his comfort zone. There have been British exports to Germany before, but Kevin Keegan, Tony Woodcock and Paul Lambert were well-established professionals when they made the switch.

Borussia Dortmund conducts their training camp in the winter in Marbella

Sancho has become a real star in Germany with second most assists in the Bundesliga

Owen Hargreaves did what Sancho did, moved from Canada to Bayern Munich at 16 and won four Bundesliga titles, but for a player who grew up in England and in our football system, the success of Sancho is unprecedented.

For years it was argued that young British footballers should make use of the opportunities that freedom of movement in Europe brings. Now, just as that freedom is soon to be curtailed, Sancho has done just that. He says he is a casual windshield.

"Going abroad was not really something, because from an early age I have always been away from home, so I was comfortable," he says later, when the press conference has ended on television. & # 39; So I thought, "Why not Germany?" I have gone and see what has happened now! "

It requires perseverance to face Pep Guardiola at the age of 17. The manager of Manchester City refused to take him on a pre-season tour at the beginning of the previous season, when Sancho said he wanted to leave.

He accused the teenager of going back to his word, but Guardiola would not be the first to underestimate Sancho's decision.

After a visit from Watford as a seven-year-old, he would initially take part in their satellite training at Battersea Park, near his home in South London.

For a player who grew up in England, the success of Sancho abroad is second to none

But at the age of eleven and with the need to train in Watford, he had to move to Harefield Academy, the state school with boarding schools on the edge of north-west London, where the clubhouse houses their scholars.

Although it is only 20 miles from Kennington, amid fields and green belt countryside, it is a world away from the south of downtown London.

& # 39; It was hard at the time in Kennington, I only knew my friends & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; I did not know how to deal with other people. I went to Harefield and it was strange at first, but then I realized that I was only one thing here and that was football. That was one of many things that kept me on the ground and kept me going. & # 39;

When he was 14 he made the decision to switch to Manchester City, with another school and location. Knowing all that, it might not be surprising that he had the faith in himself to make it into the Bundesliga.

& # 39; There were people who said they were not really sure, because it's a big step to leave home and everyone I'm close to, "he says. & # 39; But it did very well. & # 39;

He makes it all sound pretty simple and it may seem like the benign look of Marbella's sunshine. It is of course far from that.

Sancho believed he would have a better chance to get away from Manchester City

His English Under-17 teammate Phil Foden left, only 32 minutes against Burton

Sancho simply believed that he would have more opportunity to develop in a club like Borussia Dortmund, which has a track record in these matters, than a superpower like Manchester City, apparently always with more money to spend.

When he sees that his English under-17 captain, Phil Foden, gets 32 minutes against Burton, and comes up when the score is 5-0, it is difficult to conclude that he was wrong.

Another of the English U17 World Championship winning team, Callum Hudson-Odoi, came to the same conclusion at Chelsea and wants to join Bayern Munich. Sancho laughs when German reporters ask him if he can persuade Hudson-Odoi to accompany him to Dortmund.

& # 39; I do not know for sure! & # 39; He says. I could try to talk to him! Everyone has different paths. Me and Callum are good friends. I know what he is talking about.

& # 39; He is the next one I would say. He is very good and talented, quick and good dribbling. And I told him that the Bundesliga is a nice competition. I just told him to do what is best for him. & # 39;

Some of his other England teammates also like to share his experiences. & # 39; I told them that this is a competition that the youth would like to propagate. & # 39;

Some of Sancho's teammates have very much heard of his experiences

The country, the Premier League academies and the FA must be proud. Many of the informed conversations in European football are now about how good this generation of English players are.

"Every young player in England wants to do well and just wants to help his family, to be someone their family can be remembered for," says Sancho.

& # 39; The World Cup showed everyone in England that young players are coming and are doing their best to make a chance. My chance was to come to Germany. & # 39;

There is, however, a warning. "Getting to Germany is not easy," he says. "People may think that it is easy because it is so good with me, but it is not at all.

& # 39; You must have a strong mentality and just concentrate and sacrifice many things like family and that is not easy. & # 39;

He laughs at his German language and wants to do an interview in the language by the summer. & # 39; It is not the best & # 39 ;, he says.

But this is a young man who pushes boundaries, not a small Englander. & # 39; Of course I'm learning & # 39 ;, he says. & # 39; I have to learn. & # 39;

He admitted that the language barrier "worried me a lot & # 39; before he came, but he was soothed in his environment with teammates Christian Pulisic and Alexander Isak in Sweden.

He admits that the language barrier was a concern, but that he was soothed in his environment

Sancho has become a major player in a match that is trying to wrestle the league title of Bayern Munich

& # 39; I, Alex and Chris, we play Fortnite together [centre half] Danny [Axel-Zagadou] sometimes too. But Danny is French, so it's hard to talk to him! All young players stay together. & # 39;

He lives in an apartment in the city with his father, Sean, who spends most of his time and recovers. He has a cook to cook his food.

It's not really around the corner, but he does have a friend from his childhood in Southwark, some 200 miles away.

YOUNG GUN

Jadon Sancho is the youngest player of Borussia Dortmund who scores six Bundesliga goals at 18, 8 and 13 days

Reiss Nelson, on loan from Arsenal in Hoffenheim, also makes his name in the Bundesliga, with six goals this season. They have been in the neighborhood since primary school and play on the same Southwark municipal teams.

"I am very happy for him", says Sancho. "When he came by, I told him only to be positive, because he is away from home and the first time he is away from London. I try to visit him sometimes and he had a great first half of the season. & # 39;

Despite all this, although Sancho's contemporaries are on the bench in the elite Premier League clubs, Sancho is an important player in a match trying to wrestle the Bayern Munich Bundesliga title for the first time in seven years.

It would be their first league title since the days of Jurgen Klopp & # 39; s Borussia Dortmund and their challenge comes after she had 29 points behind Bayern last season.

Sancho suspects that the second half of the season, which starts next week, will be heavier

& # 39; We know that Bayern is right behind us & # 39 ;, says Sancho. & # 39; Only six points. We just have to keep working hard. The last season was not the best season for us. It was a big demise for the club. We knew that this season we had to prove a point to our fans. & # 39;

He suspects that the second half of the season, which starts next week at RB Leipzig, will be more difficult. They also have a final match of the Champions League against Tottenham and a return to his hometown.

Although he played three times for England, there is still an unknown part about Sancho for the domestic audience. He wants to correct that.

& # 39; It's a big game for me because it's in England and some English fans do not know what I'm talking about. Hopefully I will show them.

& # 39; And it is easier for my family to look at me. Not many people can come to Germany because they have work, so it will be fun. & # 39;

Even Dortmund did not expect this from Sancho. They feared that he might be in limbo last season when he joined him and they asked him to start in their U23 development team. He just stooped and continued.

Dortmund had hoped that Sancho would continue to influence the bank this season

& # 39; It was just to learn how they play football and their way of playing, which is very different from the English way of playing & # 39 ;, he says.

I feel that German football is much more aggressive and faster. I have never played in the Premier League, so I could not say how it was. But assuming youth football, I would say that it is a lot faster and much more physical. & # 39;

He started to get first-team matches at the end of last season and the club hoped he would continue to make an impact on the bench this season. So when he arrived in the clash against Bayer Leverkusen in September, Dortmund was trailing 2-1.

Within a minute, Sancho had led the attack on the counterattack, sprinted almost the entire length of the field, swapped passes with Marco Reus before uncovering the captain of Dortmund. Dortmund won 4-2.

Soon there was no way to keep him out of the way. By the time Bayern Munich arrived in November, Sancho was a guaranteed starter. He played the pass for Reus who put the penalty for 1-1 and was involved with the winner.

The 3-2 victory, in which Dortmund came two times, is the highlight of the season so far. He believes that he has become immeasurably grown in the last six months under the guidance of Lucien Favre, and claims that he is now a long way away from that street footballer of his descent.

For England against Croatia in the Nations League in Wembley he did not run into problems

The teenager has earned three hats at senior level under manager Gareth Southgate

& # 39; In my youth my father always told me: & # 39; Finished product & # 39 ;. I always showed my skills, but I learned a lot: thinking about others. In the past I wanted to show everyone what I had.

& # 39; On the training ground, I analyze Marco, Paco [Alcacer]Mario [Gotze], just where they want the ball. I see it on the training field, what they like and do not like.

I feel like I know when to release the ball now. And when I made my debut in the stadium I was very nervous. Now I am completely nervous. I am just completely calm and relaxed. & # 39;

That stadium is of course world famous. The Yellow Wall, the southern level of the Westfalenstadion, houses 25,000 fans. An average home audience of 80,000 is the highest in Europe.

It meant that making his first start in England against the US or coming against Croatia at Wembley did not make him phase-wise.

& # 39; That [experience] was crucial when I arrived at Wembley, & # 39; he says. & # 39; I was relaxed. I did not feel anyone was there when I was playing.

& # 39; That is one of the biggest things I will never forget in football. I never knew that the debut in England would be so fast. I must thank Dortmund for that. If they had not given me the chance, I would not have made it. & # 39;

There is inspiration all around him. Reus is the 29-year-old locally-born captain, star of the team and one-club man, Gotze, scorer of the winner in the 2014 World Cup final, is another native player, who had a gap at Bayern Munich and has retreated on a debilitating disease, Axel Witsel (29), who joined last season, has 101 caps for Belgium.

There is inspiration around Sancho at Dortmund in Mario Gotze and Marco Reus

Sancho also greets the influence of Axel Witsel, who has won more than 100 caps for Belgium

& # 39; Axel is a great example & # 39 ;, says Sancho. & # 39; He has had 100 hats for his country. I wish I could do that one day, hopefully if I continued my progress.

"He's just a big inspiration for all of us young people and everyone looks up at him because he's such a great player.

& # 39; He just keeps the ball moving and adds something to the team. All the players give me tips, but Mario and Marco and Axel, who are three really boosted me. & # 39;

The loss of the Premier League is the victory of the Bundesliga. Sancho takes a challenge, so many English footballers earlier dropped out.

He will certainly be mentally, culturally and tactically richer to embrace a different route. At the moment, a return of the Premier League seems far from his thoughts.

& # 39; No, I do what I like, & # 39; he says. I just want to keep working hard and get a lot more opportunities to prove myself and the world what I can do. & # 39;

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