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, established in 2005, has plucked out a number of talents who have gone on to showcase their footballing 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 retired after spells with Getafe, Mainz and 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, Eintracht Frankfurt, Sassuolo, Barcelona, Fiorentina, Besiktas and now Monza
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 with Al-Raed in Saudi Arabia, on loan from Al-Ahli.
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 Marin 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 SV Sandhausen, was the U19 gold winner after a number of excellent performances at Werder Bremen.
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 Blackburn Rovers of all clubs.
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. He spent 2018/19 on loan at Fulham, and has since retired at the age of just 29.
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)
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. The World Cup winner was not able to replicate his previous form and has since joined PSV on a free transfer.
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 and Monaco last year.
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 Dortmund after spending time at Liverpool and Juventus 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 in 2017.
The U18 gold award winner was Matthias Ginter, who would go on to sign for Dortmund in 2014 and then Borussia Monchengladbach in 2017. Schalke’s latest hot prospect Max Meyer, now at FC Köln after a short spell with Crystal Palace, was starting to follow in Draxler’s footsteps.
U19 gold winner: Matthias Ginter (Freiburg)
U18 silver winner: Joshua Kimmich (Leipzig)
U17 gold winner: Timo Werner (Stuttgart)
Ginter’s performances at Freiburg continued to impress and the versatile defender has now earned 33 caps for the German national team. 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)
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, going on to become one of Europe’s brightest talents and winning the Champions League last season.
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 has since picked up 11 caps for Germany’s senior side. Aged just 20, he was already a regular starter in the side and made 29 Bundesliga appearances during the 2015-16 season.
After finishing as the U17 gold winner in 2013, 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 has since left for Chelsea after a fruitful spell at RB Leipzig.
Borussia Dortmund’s Felix Passlack was given the U17 gold award and he is back in the Ruhr district after a spell on loan at Norwich.
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 then Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Benjamin Henrichs, who has since moved on to Monaco and now on loan at RB Leipzig.
He made his senior international debut for Germany in November 2016 — during an 8-0 win over Malta — and has picked up five caps so far.
Midfielder Philipp Ochs, now at Hannover 96, picked up the U19 silver medal, while the U17 gold medal was given to Wolfsburg left-back Gian-Luca Itter, now at SC Freiburg.
U19 gold winner: Salih Ozcan (Cologne)
U19 silver winner: Aymen Barkok (Eintracht Frankfurt)
U17 gold winner: Jann-Fiete Arp (Hamburg)
Salih Ozcan, 22, has won 50 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 has made 86 appearances since making his debut for FC Köln.
2017’s winner of the Silver award, Aymen Barkok, of Moroccan descent, who played 23 times for Frankfurt’s first team in the German top-flight during the 2016/17 season, scoring twice and assisting two more. He is still at Frankfurt but has since pledged his allegiance to Morocco, appearing four times for the senior side.
Taking gold in the Under-17s category was striker Jann-Fiete Arp of Hamburg, who is another to be poached by Bayern Munich.
U19 gold winner: Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
U19 silver winner: Arne Maier (Hertha Berlin)
U17 gold winner: Noah Katterbach (Cologne)
Kai Havertz, 21, is a fully-fledged Germany international and was officially the youngest player in Bundesliga history to reach 50 league appearances. His exploits have taken him to west London where Frank Lampard paid a king’s ransom for the playmaker’s signature for his Chelsea side. Hopefully, Thomas Tuchel can get his Chelsea career going.
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 U21’s while also clocking up over 60 games for his club, though he is now on loan at Arminia Bielefeld.
The winner of the gold in the Under-17s category was Köln defender Noah Katterbach.
The 19-year-old left-back finished ahead of Oliver Batista Meier of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund’s Luca Unbehaun to claim the prize.
U19 gold winner: Nicolas-Gerrit Kuhn (Ajax)
U17 gold winner: Karim Adeyemi (FC Liefering)
In a strange turn of events, the 2019 award was handed to two German youngsters who did not ply their trade in Germany at the time. Kuhn had transferred to Ajax from RB Leipzig in 2018 and was handed the accolade the following year for his wondrous exploits in Amsterdam, where he helped Jong Ajax win the 2017/18 Eerste Divisie. He joined Bayern Munich in July and has been playing in the reserves ever since.
Meanwhile, teenage superstar Adeyemi could be the next talent to emerge from Red Bull Salzburg’s production line. A one-time Bayern academy player, the 18-year-old joined the Austrian heavyweights in 2018, but it was at a loan spell at feeder club FC Liefering that truly saw him rise to prominence. 15 goals in 35 matches was an excellent return for the teenager and he since been in and out of the Salzburg first team.
U19 gold winner: Noah Katterbach (Cologne)
U17 gold winner: Florian Wirtz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Katterbach was the U17 gold winner in 2018 and two years on he has maintained that form, clinching a second bauble. The teenage full-back was a regular on Köln’s return to the top flight last season and has represented Germany at youth level from every age group between the U16s to the U20s.
Wirtz, meanwhile, has been able to find a place in Peter Bosz’s Leverkusen side despite the Dutchman boasting a glut of talent out wide. The 17-year-old appeared nine times in all competitions last term, but he is in exceptional form this time round, grabbing six goals and six assists in Bundesliga and Europa League play combined so far.