Have you ever wondered where the next crop of German youth talent will emerge from?
Of course you have. Well, it turns out that the Fritz Walter medal winners is a great place to find them. The series of annual awards – named in honour of West Germany’s 1954 World Cup winning captain Fritz Walter – are handed out to finest youth footballers in Deutschland.
The award, that was established in 2005, has plucked out a number of talents who have gone on to showcase their football ability at the very top level. The previous talents that have claimed the coveted prizes will provide inspiration to the latest victors and if any clubs are on the lookout for some fresh talent then this list could be the first place to scout.
We’ve taken a look at the some of the most notable names that were awarded the Fritz Walter gold, silver or bronze medal ranging from the U19, U18 and U17 age groups.
U19 gold winner: Florian Muller (Bayern Munich)
U19 silver winner: Manuel Neuer (Schalke 04)
U19 bronze winner: Eugen Polanski (Borussia Monchengladbach)
U18 bronze winner: Kevin-Prince Boateng (Hertha BSC)
Florian Muller was the first footballer to win the Fritz Walter Prize in 2005. The former Bayern Munich man had joined the German giant’s academy the same year but just spent two years at the club before moving to FC Magdeburg. After just one year, he switched clubs again and signed for Alemannia Aachen, where he spent five years. Perhaps one the award panel got wrong?
Meanwhile, lurking in second place of the U19 category was a youthful Manuel Neuer, who was coming through the ranks quickly at Schalke 04. The German shot-stopper is now the number one choice for Germany and Bayern Munich.
Other notable inclusions were Eugen Polanski, now of Hoffenheim, and Kevin-Prince Boateng, who eventually opted to represent Ghana, rather than Germany, at international level.
U19 gold winner: Kevin-Prince Boateng (Hertha BSC)
U17 gold winner: Lars Bender (1860 Munich)
U17 silver winner: Marko Marin (Borussia Monchengladbach)
U17 bronze winner: Sven Bender (1860 Munich)
One year later and Kevin-Prince Boateng had made the leap to the U19 gold winner while playing for Hertha Berlin. The player, who holds a German passport but now represents Ghana at international level, moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007 before playing for Portsmouth, AC Milan, Schalke, Las Palmas and is now at Eintracht Frankfurt.
Lars and Sven Bender both appeared in the 2006 U17 category, with the former winning the award and his brother finishing in third place. Both went on to have excellent careers with Lars currently at Bayer Leverkusen and Sven joining him in July 2017 after playing for Dortmund.
Marko Marin was the silver winner in the U17 category in 2006 while playing for Borussia Monchengladbach prior to his days at Werder Bremen and Chelsea. He now plies his trade in Greece with Olympiacos.
U19 gold winner: Benedikt Howedes (Schalke 04)
U19 bronze winner: Jerome Boateng (Hamburger SV)
U18 gold winner: Marko Marin (Borussia Monchengladbach)
Schalke 04’s loyal servant Benedikt Howedes – who was captain of the side and amassed over 300 appearances for the club before joining Italian champions Juventus on loan – was the winner of the U19 gold prize in 2007. He was followed by Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng in third place while he was playing for Hamburger and Marko Marin (now at Greek champions Olympiacos) had progressed from the U17 category into the winner of the U18 prize.
U19 gold winner: Dennis Diekmeier (Werder Bremen)
U18 gold winner: Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)
Not as many stand-out winners from the class of 2008. Dennis Diekmeier, who currently plays for Hamburger SV, was the U19 gold winner after a number of excellent performances at Werder Bremen. He left the club the following year and signed for FC Nurnberg before joining up with Der Dino in 2010.
Meanwhile, a star was being found at Bayern Munich in the shape of midfield dynamo Toni Kroos. The talented playmaker – who won the U18 gold prize – spent seven years at Bayern before moving to Real Madrid in 2014.
U19 gold winner: Lewis Holtby (Schalke 04)
U19 bronze winner: Andre Schurrle (Mainz 05)
U17 gold winner: Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund)
U17 bronze winner: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Monchengladbach)
The year 2009 revealed some outstanding choices for the Fritz Walter Award. Lewis Holtby was handed the U19 gold prize while Andre Schurrle finished in third place in the same category. The former moved to England in 2013 when he signed for Tottenham Hotspur and is currently playing for Hamburger SV.
Schurrle moved to Bayer Leverkusen in 2011 before joining Premier League giants Chelsea two years later. He was sold by the Blues in 2015 to Wolfsburg before joining Borussia Dortmund the following season.
Meanwhile, in the U17 category, Mario Gotze was starting to rise through the ranks at Borussia Dortmund and won the U17 gold award while goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was becoming known for his shot-stopping ability at Monchengladbach and picked up the 2009 bronze prize.
U18 gold winner: Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund)
U17 gold winner: Timo Horn (FC Koln)
Mario Gotze continued his scintillating form at Borussia Dortmund during his first senior year with the club despite only being given a handful of games. He would go on to flourish the following year and establish himself as the team’s first-choice playmaker. He moved to Bayern Munich in 2013 and stayed with the Bavarians for three seasons before returning to Dortmund in the summer of 2016.
FC Koln’s Timo Horn was the U17 gold award winner in 2010.
U19 gold winner: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (Borussia Monchengladbach)
U19 bronze winner: Kevin Volland (1860 Munich)
U18 gold winner: Julian Draxler (Schalke 04)
U17 gold winner: Emre Can (Bayern Munich)
After finishing third in the 2009 U17 category Marc-Andre ter Stegen had continued his outstanding development and finished as the U19 gold winner. He was a part of Borussia Monchengladbach’s first XI and was ever-present during the 2011-12 Bundesliga campaign.
Kevin Volland received the bronze accolade the same year for his performances at 1860 Munich. The striker would go on to break into the side’s first team the following year and scored 13 goals in 33 appearances. He moved to Hoffenheim in 2012 and spent four years before joining Bayer Leverkusen in 2016.
The U18 category saw Julian Draxler win the gold award representing another fine Schalke 04 product. The midfielder made 15 appearances and would become a regular first-team starter the following year. He moved to French behemoth Paris Saint Germain in January 2017 for a small sum of around £40m.
Bayern Munich youth product Emre Can was showing strong development in the club’s second team and picked up the U17 gold award. The midfielder is now at Juventus after spending time at Liverpool following a season at Bayer Leverkusen.
U19 gold winner: Antonio Rudiger (Stuttgart)
U18 gold winner: Matthias Ginter (Freiburg)
U17 silver winner: Max Meyer (Schalke 04)
Antonio Rudiger had attracted peoples’ attention in 2012 during his early days at Stuttgart. He soon broke into the first team and became one of Europe’s most promising central defenders. The centre-back would move to Roma in 2015 before moving to Chelsea for £31m last summer.
The U18 gold award winner was Matthias Ginter, who would go on to sign for Dortmund in 2014, and Schalke’s latest hot prospect Max Meyer was starting to follow in Julian Draxler’s footsteps.
U19 gold winner: Matthias Ginter (Freiburg)
U18 silver winner: Joshua Kimmich (Leipzig)
U17 gold winner: Timo Werner (Stuttgart)
Matthias Ginter’s performances at Freiburg continued to impress and the versatile defender, who today is mainly used as a full-back, has now earned 18 caps for the German national team despite still only being 24. He recovered from a disappointing debut season with the BVB to become a key part of Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund side. He joined Borussia Monchengladbach in July 2017 for around £15m.
U18 silver award winner Joshua Kimmich was making waves of progress at Leipzig (on loan from Stuttgart) and gathering interest from a number of top sides before signing for Bayern Munich and Timo Werner – who picked up the U17 gold award – was starting to look like a potentially lethal goalscorer.
U19 silver winner: Max Meyer (Schalke 04)
U19 bronze winner: Joshua Kimmich (Leipzig)
U18 gold winner: Julian Brandt (Bayer Leverkusen)
Max Meyer was a regular in the Schalke 04 team and made 30 appearances during the 2013-14 season, scoring six goals and grabbing four assists. He finished as the U19 silver award winner.
Kimmich had continued his form at Leipzig on loan and was the U19 bronze award winner after claiming the U18 silver award the year before. He would later be signed by Bayern Munich and under Pep Guardiola’s management, the 22-year-old would become one of Europe’s brightest talents.
Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt was starting to feature in the German side’s first team and he made 12 appearances during the 2013-14 campaign, grabbing two goals and three assists and the U18 gold award.
U19 gold winner: Jonathan Tah (Bayer Leverkusen)
U19 silver winner: Timo Werner (Stuttgart)
U17 gold winner: Felix Passlack (Borussia Dortmund)
Bayer Leverkusen’s Jonathan Tah picked up the U19 gold award and will be hoping he can continue his development at the club. Aged just 20, he was already a regular starter in the side and made 29 Bundesliga appearances during the 2015-16 season. He has remained an important player for Leverkusen having made three appearances for the National team.
After finishing as the U17 gold winner in 2013, Timo Werner was awarded the U19 silver award for his performances during the 2014-15 Stuttgart campaign that saw him make 32 first-team appearances. He is now one of the stars at RB Leipzig.
Borussia Dortmund’s Felix Passlack was awarded the U17 gold award and he is likely to gain a wealth of experience under Thomas Tuchel.
U19 gold winner: Benjamin Henrichs (Bayer Leverkusen)
U19 silver winner: Philipp Ochs (Hoffenheim)
U17 gold winner: Gian-Luca Itter (Wolfsburg)
2016’s winner of the U19 gold medal was Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Benjamin Henrichs, who has since established himself as a first-team regular at full back.
He made his senior international debut for Germany in November 2016 – during an 8-0 win over Malta – but is yet to receive another call-up from Joachim Low.
Hoffenheim’s highly-rated midfielder Philipp Ochs, who was tentatively linked with a move to Arsenal last summer, picked up the U19 silver medal, while the U17 gold medal was given to Wolfsburg left-back Gian-Luca Itter.
U19 gold winner: Salih Ozcan (FC Koln)
U19 silver winner: Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt)
U17 gold winner: Jann-Fiete Arp (Hamburg)
Salih Ozcan, 19, has won 38 caps for Germany at youth level. The central midfielder, who can fill in as a striker, is also of Turkish descent and remains eligible to play for the Turkey national team. He made 13 Bundesliga appearances in the Cologne first-team in 2016/17 including three starts, registering a 79% passing accuracy in the process.
This year’s winner of the Silver award, Aymen Barkok, of Moroccan descent, played 23 times for Frankfurt’s first team in the German top flight last term, scoring twice and assisting two more. He has made six appearances at youth level for Germany and has been linked with Arsenal.
While taking gold in the Under-17s category was Chelsea-linked striker Jann-Fiete Arp of Hamburg.
In June 2017, Hamburg manager Markus Gisdol discussed interest in his player: “It is no secret, he is a great talent, and we must keep him with us. He can be a great player.”
The 17-year-old is highly sought after and made a significant impact in the B-Junioren Bundesliga North last season as he scored a remarkable 26 goals in 21 appearances. He has broken into the Hamburg first team this campaign and has made 17 appearances scoring twice.
U19 gold winner: Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
U19 silver winner: Arne Maier(Hertha Berlin)
U17 gold winner: Noah Katterbach (Cologne)
Kai Havertz, 19, is the current Germany U19’s captain and is officially the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 league appearances which he achieved during last season’s campaign. To date, the talented midfielder has scored seven goals and assisted 15 times for Bayer, fueling the fire on his undeniable talent.
With Havertz taking the Gold award in the U19’s category, silver Hertha Berlin talent Arne Maier. The tough-tackling midfielder has made nine appearances for the Germany U19’s whilst also clocking up 22 games for his club.
The winner of the gold in the Under-17s category was Cologne defender Noah Katterback.
The 17-year-old left-back finished ahead of Oliver Batista Meier of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund’s Luca Unbehaun to claim the prize. Having already made 12 appearances for the German U-17 team, it is expected that he will make his first-team debut during the 2018/19 season with Cologne this upcoming season.
(This article was updated on July 24 to include 2018 ‘s recipients)