Youssoufa Moukoko once told reporters: “It is my goal to become a professional player in Dortmund, capture the Champions League with Borussia, and win the Ballon d’Or.”
He was 13. From anyone else at that age, such talk might have seemed naive, perhaps arrogant. But those who listened to Moukoko thought he might be right.
Today, Moukoko turns 16, and is an international sensation thanks to his ridiculous goal rate – he has scored 141 times in 88 youth matches for Borussia Dortmund since 2017.
In the summer, Dortmund selected Moukoko for their official Bundesliga squad, knowing they would have to wait a couple of months before the young striker would be eligible to play. They convinced the German Football League earlier this year to lower the minimum age for players in the top two divisions from 17 to 16.
Moukoko has a chance to break two records in the next week. If he features against Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga on Saturday, he will become the youngest person ever to play a professional match in Germany. If he faces Club Bruges three days later, he will become the Champions League’s youngest player.
Who is Moukoko?
Born in Yaounde, Cameroon, he grew up with his grandparents and a passionate love for football.
When he was 10, he moved to live with his father, who had been based in Germany for many years, and joined the youth set-up at St Pauli.
Moukoko went to his first training session in running shoes, as he wasn’t used to organised football. But that didn’t prevent him from scoring goals right from the beginning.
“He is a huge talent and makes decisions at an impressive pace,” Guido Streichsbier, coach of Germany’s Under-20s, said.
“I’m convinced that Youssoufa has the football IQ to find spaces so that he won’t be dismantled by experienced defenders. It will be important that he moves in specific zones to stay away from the physical fights.”
Dortmund first-team boss Lucien Favre added: “You don’t know which foot he uses to play. He is a left-footer and a right-footer. He is very efficient.”