Profile: City loanee’s star shone so brightly he almost brought Klopp to tears at Dortmund
PUBLISHED: 12:31 03 July 2018 | UPDATED: 13:28 03 July 2018
Norwich City FC
He’s been hailed as the future of Borussia Dortmund so how has Felix Passlack found himself arriving at Norwich City at the age of 20?
Canaries head coach Daniel Farke has made use of his Dortmund contacts to bring the right-back to the Championship for a season-long loan, bringing an early end to an intended two-year stint at Hoffenheim.
Passlack made his debut for BVB at just 17 years old, coming on for Henrikh Mikhitaryan on the right wing in the 69th minute of a 2-0 Bundesliga victory at Dramstadt. Coming on six minutes earlier for the hosts was Mario Vrancic, one of his new team-mates in Norwich and another former Dortmund player.
Anyway, back to Passlack, and another two substitute appearances followed as Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund side finished 10 points adrift of champions Bayern Munich in second place at the end of 2015/16.
Alongside that initial senior involvement however the teen was making waves as one of the top scorers in A-Junior Bundesliga West, finishing as fourth-highest top scorer with 17 goals and 17 assists in 22 games, as Dortmund’s U19s romped to the title.
The season before had been similar, with 16 goals and 16 assists from 21 games as Dortmund’s U17s won the 2015 B-Junior Bundesliga West title.
All of which goes to explain why Jurgen Klopp, according to Uefa.com when leaving to take over Liverpool in the summer of 2015, said of Passlack: “I could start crying knowing that I won’t be coaching this guy.”
Featuring as Uefa.com’s ‘weekly wonderkid’ the Bottrop-born starlet was also hailed by Poland and Dortmund right-back Lukasz Piszczek, saying: “Felix is an intelligent boy and the future of Borussia Dortmund belongs to him.”
Klopp had been keeping a close eye on the youngster from a young age, surprising Passlack at the age of 15 when he knew his name and asked how he was developing when in junior training.
MORE: Three in three days as Dortmund defender joins City
As Tuchel took over the reins in 2015 Passlack was becoming increasingly hot property, having worn the captain’s armband as Germany advanced to the U17 European Championship final, only to be beaten 4-1 by France in the final.
His profile was boosted even further by a prestigious award, being named the U17 winner of the Fritz Walter Medal, an annual award named after the captain of the 1954 World Cup winning West Germany team.
Pre-season involvement followed with the Dortmund first team in Asia but it wasn’t until February 2016 that his much-anticipated debut arrived, during that win over Darmstadt.
It was during 2016/17 that Passlack’s career really kicked into gear though, still aged just 18, making 10 league appearances, six of them starts.
There were also two goals in the Champions League though – and his first senior goal, becoming the youngest ever German goal-scorer in Europe’s premier club competitions.
Having played all of a 2-1 win away to Sporting Lisbon in the group stages, at left-back, Passlack was handed another start at home against Legia Warsaw. What followed was rather chaotic.
Aged just 18 years and 177 days he popped up in the box to head home from close range after Andre Schurrle’s shot was saved, scoring BVB’s seventh goal in an 8-4 victory, as over 55,000 were entertained at the iconic Westfalenstadion.
On a much more sober note, the youngster was also on the Dortmund team bus when three explosive devices were detonated ahead of the home quarter-final against Monaco in April 2017. Windows were broken and tyres were burst but fortunately the only injury was a broken wrist for Marc Bartra – with Uefa criticised later for allowing the game to go ahead, with Passlack an unused substitute during a 3-2 defeat.
REACTION: Canaries fans impressed with arrival of Dortmund starlet
That eventual quarter-final exit and third place in the Bundesliga spelt the end for Tuchel, despite winning the German Cup, amid frustration at big-name sales for the head coach.
Former Ajax boss Peter Bosz took charge ahead of the 2017/18 campaign but it was decided to allow Passlack to join fellow Bundesliga side Hoffenheim on a two-year loan, although faith in the full-back was shown with a contract extension until 2021.
Sporting director Michael Zorc said: “We hope he gets as much playing time as possible in Hoffenheim and believe he will be in good hands with TSG coach Julian Nagelsmann.”
However, just two Bundesliga and two Europa League appearances last season brought that unhappy loan to an early conclusion and now it is Farke’s turn to try and get Passlack back on track.
• Watch Passlack’s Champions League goal above
• Follow Canaries correspondent David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer