On November 17th 2010 against Sweden, Borussia Dortmund’s Mario Götze became the youngest player to make his debut for the Nationalmannschaft since Hamburger SV legend Uwe Seeler made his his first appearance in the Schwarz und Weiß in 1954.
The ten youngest players to debut for Germany are as follows:
17 years 345 days
Uwe SEELER (Hamburger SV) v France, Hannover, 16.10.1954
Hamburg stalwart Seeler made his debut in a friendly international against France in October 1954, not long after Germany had won the World Cup earlier that year in Switzerland. It was the beginning of a memorable international career that spanned almost six years and seventy-two games, which saw him compete in four World Cup final tournaments. In addition to being the youngest man to play in the German national colours, Seeler currently lies in sixth position in the list of all-time top goalscorers for the Nationalmannschaft with forty-three goals.
18 years 167 days
Mario GÖTZE (BV 09 Borussia Dortmund) v Sweden, Göteborg, 17.11.2010
Borussia Dortmund’s attacking midfielder Götze became the youngest player to make his debut for the Nationalmannschaft in over fifty-six years when he appeared as a 79th minute substitute against Sweden in Gothenburg, moving into second place on the list behind Uwe Seeler. Before making his first appearance for the national side he had played only fourteen Bundesliga matches for his club side.
On 10th August 2011 Götze scored his first international goal in Stuttgart against Brazil: at nineteen years and sixty-eight days, he joined Klaus Stürmer as the joint-youngest goalscorer for the German national team in the post-war era. Stürmer – who remains the youngest player to score on debut for the Nationalmannschaft – achieved the feat against France in October 1954.
18 years 229 days
Olaf THON (FC Schalke 04) v Malta (WCQ), Valetta, 16.12.1984
5′ 7″ midfielder Thon played his first match in a World Cup qualifier in Malta in late 1984, before going on to win fifty-two caps until his retirement in 1998, scoring three goals. Although he was never a fixture in a German side that at the time had been blessed with an array of quality midfielders, the versatile Thon was able to play in a number of positions from sweeper to attacking midfielder.
Thon won a World Cup runners-up medal in 1986 without playing a game, but went one better four years later in Italy – where he scored in the semi-final penalty shootout against England.
18 years 238 days
Maximilian MEYER (FC Schalke 04) v Poland, Hamburg, 13.05.2014
One of a number of rising stars at Schalke 04, Max Meyer would make his Bundesliga debut at the age of seventeen in February 2013 against FSV Mainz 05. Having established himself in the first team for his club during the 2013/14 season the slightly-built Oberhausen-born midfielder would complete his development through the national team youth system, culminating in his first full international appearance against Poland in May 2014.
Along with fellow teenage club team mate Leon Goretzka, Meyer would be selected for the preliminary squad of thirty players for the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. His call up would also push national team legend Lothar Matthäus down to eleventh place in this list of youngest debutants.
18 years 249 days
Julian DRAXLER (FC Schalke 04) v Switzerland, Basel, 26.05.2012
Having made his Bundesliga debut as a seventeen year old in January 2011, FC Schalke 04 midfielder Julian Draxler had always been seen as an excellent prospect at international level. However nobody expected such a meteoric rise: having been earmarked as a possible contender for a place in the 2014 FIFA World Cup, Draxler found himself being called up to the preliminary squad of twenty-seven players for the 2012 European Championship finals in Poland and the Ukraine.
Draxler would make his international debut in the first of the two final tournament warm-up fixtures against Switzerland in Basel, coming on as a sixty-second minute substitute for Lukas Podolski.
19 years 2 days
Karl-Heinz SCHNELLINGER (1. FC Köln) v Czechoslovakia, Praha, 02.04.1958
Making his debut two days after his nineteenth birthday, Köln defender Schnellinger’s international career spanned some thirteen years and a total of forty-seven matches. Although he was not exactly a regular choice, he was always called up when it mattered – making four World Cup finals appearances where he picked up silver and bronze medals in 1966 and 1970. Schnellinger only scored one goal in the German national colours, but this solitary strike was the one scored in the final minute that took the 1970 semi-final against Italy – dubbed the “game of the century” – into extra time.
19 years 2 days
Lukas PODOLSKI (1. FC Köln) v Hungary, Kaiserslautern, 06.06.2004
Making his debut at exactly the same age as his fellow Kölner Karl-Heinz Schnellinger, Polish-born Podolski was along with Bastian Schweinsteiger was one of the first of the current generation of German stars. Still only twenty-six, “Poldi” has played eighty-three times in the Schwarz und Weiß, scoring forty-two goals which has him level in seventh place with Michael Ballack and one strike behind Uwe Seeler. While Podolski’s goalscoring record at club level has never been fantastic, he has been a man transformed when playing for the national side.
19 years 65 days
Helmut HALLER (BC Augsburg) v Denmark, BC Augsburg, 24.09.1958
Having made his debut not long after the World Cup of 1958, Helmut Haller was a true tournament player. Although he only made thirty-three appearances for the Nationalmannschaft over a period of twelve years, he got to play in three World Cup final tournaments, picking up runners up and third place medals in 1966 and 1970. He scored a total of thirteen goals in his international career, including the opening strike of the 1966 final at Wembley against England.
19 years 68 days
Klaus STÜRMER (Hamburger SV) v France, Hannover, 16.10.1954
Hamburg’s Klaus Stürmer made his international debut at the same time as his younger club team-mate Uwe Seeler, but nobody would have known at that stage how differently their respective careers would pan out. At nineteen years and sixty-eight days Stürmer became the youngest player to score on debut for the Nationalmannschaft when he scored a 75th minute goal against France, but would have to wait another seven years until he made his second and final appearance in the Schwarz und Weiß. Seeler meanwhile went on to play in four World Cups and score forty-three goals. Stürmer had remained the youngest-ever German goalscorer in the post-war era until the record was equalled on 10th August 2011 by Mario Götze.
19 years 75 days
Marko MARIN (SV Werder Bremen) v Belarus, Kaiserslautern, 27.05.2008
Bosnian-born Marko Marin is one of a number of young players who has risen to prominence in the Jogi Löw era, and while touted as a talent of the future had made most of his fifteen international appearances from the substitutes’ bench. Having made his debut against Belarus prior to Euro 2008, Marin scored his first and so far only goal for the Nationalmannschaft in a friendly against Belgium in the autumn of 2008.
Now at number eleven in the list…
19 years 85 days
Lothar MATTHÄUS (Borussia Mönchengladbach) v Netherlands (ECF), Napoli, 14.06.1980
The young Lothar Matthäus was thrown straight into the fire – making his debut for the Nationalmannschaft in the first phase of the Euro 1980 finals against the Netherlands. His start was far from auspicious – having been on the field for some six minutes, he conceded a 79th-minute penalty which allowed the Dutch to pull the score back to 3-2 – thankfully for Matthäus that didn’t prove to be costly as the Germans advanced to the final against Belgium. After spending much of the next six years in and out of the side, the powerful midfielder came into his own as Nationaltrainer Franz Beckenbauer’s playmaker-general at Italia 1990, where he led the team to a third World Cup victory.
The latter part of Matthäus’ long at times controversial career saw a gradual decline, culminating in the disastrous decision to play as a sweeper at Euro 2000 which was as embarrassing as 1990 was magnificent. He played a record 150 games in the Schwarz und Weiß in a career spanning two decades, and scored twenty-three goals.