Manuel Neuer’s displays as a youngster made it immediately apparent to observers that he was destined for greatness. He is the perfect example of a modern goalkeeper: while his exceptional reflexes and penalty area domination are enough to set him apart as a top-class all-round custodian, it is Neuer’s unerringly accurate long-distance throws to team-mates that make him truly unique, allowing him to swiftly launch attacks both for his club Bayern Munich and the German national team.

The Gelsenkirchen native’s path into the game started as a five-year-old with Schalke and he made his Bundesliga debut for the club 15 years later, before swiftly making the Royal Blues’ No1 jersey his own. Neuer signed for Bayern in summer 2011 and in subsequent seasons has been a key part of the club’s triumphs in winning a host of domestic honours as well as the UEFA Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup titles.

Neuer first made international headlines in 2009 when he lifted the U-21 European Championship crown with Germany. Just a year later he was Joachim Low’s first choice in the senior side at the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ South Africa after previous incumbent Rene Adler pulled out through injury.

Neuer took full advantage of the opportunity and has been the country’s undisputed No1 ever since. He was named as Germany’s Player of the Year in 2011 and was voted on to the FIFA/FIFPro World XI two years later.

“We can go to the World Cup full of self-belief,” Neuer told FIFA.com in an exclusive interview just a few months ago, determined to help Germany, bronze medallists at the two most recent finals, win the Trophy for a fourth time.