Scouting Network: Marc-André ter Stegen
Goalden Times brings you the stars of tomorrow – 20 years or under, promising players from across the world
Date of Birth: April 30, 1992
Height: 1.89 m
Club: Borussia Mönchengladbach
Market Value: €10 mn
●●●Mark Lawrenson, the famous commentator had once said, “If you are a goal keeper, it doesn’t matter what you save the ball with – if you keep it out, it’s not a goal.” Well, all I can say is that the person who is going to be talked about in this column seems to have taken this advice quite literally. Hailing from Germany, this young goalie packs a punch, and stands apart from the rest. Stalwarts such as the great Oliver Kahn, Sepp Maier, Bert Trautman and more recently Arsenal goalkeeper from the invincible era, Jens Lehmann, have all hailed from Germany, and have shone very brightly indeed in the global football scene. Even today, many claim Manuel Neuer to be the best of the present generation of players. The people living in and around Mönchengladbach would agree to disagree with that, though.
Ter Stegen moved through the ranks at Mönchengladbach and enjoyed a rich vein of form in the 2010-11 season, playing for his reserve team and gaining quite a reputation among the local fans. But it seemed his services were more suited to his first team, who had started the season miserably and were sitting ducks right at the bottom of the league table for more than half of the first part of that season. Things had briefly started to fall in place after the appointment of the new manager, Lucien Favre but horrendous mistakes and inconsistency by the then No. 1, Belgian Logan Bailly, was not doing the team any good. The fans already had their support for Ter Stegen, and had known what this teenager was capable of, and thus demanded the new manager to utilise him and give him a taste of football at the highest level, hoping that he would deliver the goods for them. After giving Bailly ample chances to redeem himself, Favre eventually ran out of favour with him and went with Ter Stegen instead, handing him his league debut against 1. FC Köln, on April 10, 2011. The young lad did not disappoint. And by the end of the league campaign, he had kept his place in the side for the rest of the games. He had also kept a clean sheet in 4 games out of a possible 5 in the last five matchdays of the season, helping and inspiring his team to avoid relegation, which they did through the playoffs.
This provided inspiration for the youngster, and since this time around before the start of the new league season of 2011-12, Bailly was sent out on loan to Swiss side Neuchâtel Xamax, the fans knew that the team was in safe hands, so there was added incentive to hope for a better season this time around. This time though, Ter Stegen and his team exceeded all expectations. He helped his team, which had narrowly escaped relegation just the season before, with a top four finish and qualification for the Champions League. He played in 41 matches and conceded just thirty-one goals overall in all competitions, including 19 clean sheets. For this he was rewarded by a call up for the national team from the coach of Germany, Joachim Löw for the provisional squad of Germany for the Euro 2012. He did not make it to the final team, but he did however manage to earn his first cap for his country, in a 3-5 loss against Switzerland in a friendly played on May 26, 2012.
When Manuel Neuer was bought by Bayern Munich from FC Shalke 04, he was the most sought after goalkeeper in the whole world. Pundits were ready to call him the best in the world. And he made his debut, fittingly against Ter Stegen’s Mönchengladbach at Allianz Arena, Bayern’s home ground. Things didn’t turn out the way people had hoped for, with Ter Stegen playing out of his skins by producing a string of wonderful saves to keep Bayern at bay, and helping his team beat them 1-0. The same thing happened on the night of the opening fixture of 2012, when Mönchengladbach hosted Bayern and won 3-1.
As has often been the case, he has been compared with his childhood idol, the great Oliver Kahn, and one cannot but notice the distinct similarity in the style of the two. Like Kahn, Ter Stegen also has good reflexes and hand-eye coordination, and stoops down to make difficult one-handed saves with quite ease, pushing the ball out of harm’s way swiftly and efficiently. He is not afraid to catch shots from a distance unlike the normal trend which is to parry and push balls away. He is known to be a sweeper keeper, who likes to get on with things quickly, and frequently starts a counter attack from the back by releasing the ball quickly, and has an aerial superiority when it comes to handling crosses, as well as decisiveness on when to rush out and when to stand his ground on one-on-one scenarios. Trying to do a similar thing, he once had a freak accident where he lost his two front teeth in a collision with goalkeeping coach of Mönchengladbach, Uwe Kamps. When asked about the incident, the shot-stopper told that both he and his coach went for the same ball while training, and eventually collided with each other.
He is a highly talented player, and has been highly rated by people all over. EPL clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspurs, who’ve been consistent in Europe for the past few seasons, have kept an eye on his developments and have been quoted as being the frontrunners in trying to persuade the Germans to come to the Merseyside. Don’t be surprised if you see him playing for one of the top teams in the near future, or even represent Germany between the sticks in a World Cup or European Championship.