Borussia Dortmund pride themselves on the development of young talent and boast in their ranks two of the most exciting young players from the African continent. BVB's assistant manager Jorg Heinrich spoke exclusively to Soccer Laduma about the club's African starlets.
Heinrich, who won the UEFA Champions League and two Bundesliga crowns during his illustrious playing career with Dortmund, currently serves as manager's Lucien Favre's right-hand man at the Westfalenstadion, having previously also served as an ambassador for the club.
The former Germany international spoke exclusively to Soccer Laduma during the recent Bundesliga Media Visit about Morocco international Achraf Hakimi, who joined the eight-time German top flight champions on a two-year loan deal from Real Madrid last season, and 14-year-old wonderkid Youssoufa Moukoko.
Hakimi, who celebrated his 21st birthday earlier in the month, is already regarded as one of world football's leading attacking fullbacks despite his relative youth, and showed his quality again on Tuesday night with a brace in Dortmund's 3-2 UEFA Champions League win over Inter Milan.
Heinrich praised BVB's scouting department for identifying the Spanish-born defender as a burgeoning talent who would strengthen the squad, and shared his hope that the club would be able to keep him on beyond his current loan deal.
"If you have played football on a certain level you can identify players who are talented enough for this level, and the scouts did a very good job on our side (to identify Hakimi)," Heinrich told Soccer Laduma.
"That he decided to come to Dortmund was a good move for all (and) if we can keep him as long as possible, this would be great. We have some young talented players who we develop and we hope to keep them as long as possible.
"Here in Dortmund, young players have the opportunity to play rather than sitting on the bench or just watching games. We give young players the chance to develop and prove their skills on the field."
Heinrich, who represented Germany at the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France, also reserved praise for Cameroon-born wonderkid Moukoko, who has broken countless records at age-group level and in the UEFA Youth League for the club.
"There are very few players who can play the way he (Moukoko) does and skip through the youth teams," the 49-year-old shared.
"I'm convinced that if he continues to develop as he has done since joining Dortmund, then he'll play for the first team one day.
"As a player, you need physical attributes to compete with your teammates, so if you skip the youth teams you need to develop your physical attributes to be on par with your older teammates.
"Here are some young players who play for the first team and he'll be motivated because he can see it's possible to get the chance to play for Dortmund."
To read the complete, exclusive interview with Heinrich, during which he also discusses Dortmund's rivalries with Bayern Munich and Schalke 04, buy this week's edition of Soccer Laduma, issue 1148!