Draxler elated, Low enchanted
Julian Draxler was barely old enough to join his Schalke team-mates for a celebration beer after winning the DFB-Pokal final yesterday, but the wunderkind has already impressed Germany coach Joachim Low. The 17-year-old netted Die Königsblauen's opening goal in the 5-0 thrashing of Duisburg at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Draxler first grabbed the limelight in January, when he came off the bench to score Schalke's winner in the 3-2 victory over Nuremberg in the quarter-finals of the competition. And in the decider, the attacking midfielder unleashed an unstoppable volley from just outside the penalty area in the 18th minute, which put his team en route to their fifth DFB-Pokal title.
"It's a mega-cool feeling," Draxler said. "One or two years ago, I was watching games like this on the television and seeing players lift the trophy. Now I have had it in my hands.
"Beer is allowed (in Germany) from 16, right?," he asked with a cheeky grin. "Even if not, I've definitely had one or two."
Draxler will only turn 18 in September and having played for Germany's U-18 side, senior coach Low now has him on his radar. "He has attracted our attention in the last six months," said the 51-year-old.
"He is a great talent and has a good opportunity to impress with Schalke. He is a player who plays with a cheeky and carefree style. We are excited about him."
There was outcry in Germany when Draxler, having become one of the youngest players to play in the Bundesliga, quit high school under the advice of former Schalke coach Felix Magath.
Since February, he has been combining football training with studying for his Abitur - Germany's university entrance exams - at Gesamtschule Berger Feld, in the shadow of Schalke's Veltins Arena. Both Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and Real Madrid's Mesut Ozil are former pupils.
"It's a kind of character building," Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff said of Draxler's balancing act.