When a 19-year-old has already scored seven times in 18 first division appearances and been capped four times for this country, it is fair to say you are dealing with a major talent. The player in question is Marko Marin, a diminutive winger who has been on the books of Borussia Monchengladbach since 2005 and who this year made the successful transition from promising youngster to Bundesliga first-team regular and budding German international.
2008 will always be a year to remember for this agreeable young man. First he became one of the top suppliers of assists in the 2. Bundesliga, helping his team regain their place in Germany's top division. Then, to cap it all, he was called into the German senior team squad by Joachim Low. And though he would narrowly miss out on a place at UEFA EURO 2008 this summer, this highly skilled teenager has now cemented a place in Mannschaft squad.
FIFA.com caught up with one of the hottest talents in German football for an exclusive interview and asked him about his club, his goals with the national side and his plans for the future.
FIFA.com: Marko, how does it feel being one of the biggest talents in German football?
Marko Marin: It's a great feeling. I've played for my country and I play in the Bundesliga every weekend. Playing in front of capacity crowds is pure bliss, nothing compares to the adrenalin rush it gives you.
Your talent has attracted the attention of many leading clubs in Germany and Europe. How are you finding that?
I like it obviously. It shows that people are aware of my performances. It's also an honour when other clubs take an interest in me, but for now all I'm thinking about is Borussia and our battle to avoid relegation.
You moved from Eintracht Frankfurt to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2005. Do you feel grateful to the Hessen side for giving you the time and opportunity to earn your stripes away from the spotlight?
I spent nine years with Frankfurt. I really enjoyed it there and learnt a lot. However, it was I who decided to go to Gladbach because I felt it would allow me to grow as a player and do so more quickly.
Playing for your country is really special. It also fills me with pride
to have a place among the best players, and being in games like the one
against England in Berlin is just unbelievable.
You seem very happy here - you have a coach who believes in you and fans who admire you - yet you still have to renew your contract, which expires in the summer of 2010.
As you can imagine, I'm thinking about the future and what it will hold. I am here now and I'm not thinking about moving. There was talk of extending the contract a few months ago, but we agreed to put that on the back burner for now and concentrate on the club and developing my game instead.
Do you have a dream club where you see yourself playing one day, either in Germany or beyond?
As a child I was a big Dejan Savicevic and AC Milan fan. Now I don't really have a favourite club that I want to play for. I would like to play in the Champions League though, that's the holy grail for any footballer. And I want to play as much as I can for Germany, of course.
Your build and style of play has seen you compared to FIFA World Cup™ winner Thomas Hassler. Does Marko Marin have any role models?
Mehmet Scholl was a fantastic player. I admired his technique, dribbling skills and free kicks. It's a shame he missed some major tournaments through injury. And Savicevic was another class act - he scored with a sensational looping shot against Barcelona in the 1994 Champions League Final.
You've played for the German team four times under Joachim Low. What does it mean for you to pull on a German shirt?
It's totally different to the Bundesliga. Playing for your country is really special. It also fills me with pride to have a place among the best players, and being in games like the one against England in Berlin is just unbelievable.
What are your goals with the national side?
A year ago I wasn't even thinking about playing for Germany. Obviously I hope to be frequently, or even always, involved with the national team. I know I'm not one of the stars or even one of the regulars in the side, but I hope to get playing time so I can prove myself to the coach. Although my goal is a regular first-team place, I'm also delighted with how things have gone so far. Everything is right on track.
Would it be a dream come true to play at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa?
It certainly would. I'll be 21 then and if I can get enough experience over the next 18 months, I plan on playing there with the German team.
We mentioned Thomas Hassler before. Do you think that after Pierre Littbarski, Thomas Hassler and Mehmet Scholl, Germany need another livewire technician like you?
I think every team benefits from having good technical players. Take Spain, for example, who are European champions now. They have players like that in their squad. So I see my style as a good thing.
After such meteoric progress in 2008, how would you sum up the past twelve months?
It all happened for me this year. I scored in the second and first divisions and even for my country. Promotion to the Bundesliga and my international caps made it a perfect year. It really couldn't have been much better.