If you are hailed in newspapers in Germany for having a shoe size of 50, then it’s either a very slow news day, or something quite special. There is no doubting what it is in the case of Christian Früchtl, the 15-year-old, 1.90-metre-tall goalkeeper from Niederbayern, who has been involved in FC Bayern’s recent winter training camp in Doha. Instead of sitting in school, or at the very most flying out to La Manga for the Germany U16s training camp, he was sitting on a plane due for Qatar alongside Neuer, Müller, Robben & Co.
One of the few people who was more pleased than surprised at the news that he would become Bayern’s youngest ever training camp participant, was Peter Wimmer. He is one of the four Bavarian DFB coordinators, and therefore heavily involved in the development of talent in Bavaria and in Germany.
"I would be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by the news," explained Wimmer. "Everyone involved in the development of young talent here in Bavaria is though of course incredibly pleased. It shows that we have made the right decisions in the past."
According to Wimmer, his journey didn’t begin on the 6th January 2016, but instead six years ago. At that time, he wore the shirt of SV Bischofsmais in Niederbayern. "Christian became known to the scouting system at a very young age. Initially this was because of his unusual body size, and because he was very good as an outfield player as well as a goalkeeper." In 2011, his career began to slowly gain momentum, as it became clear that he had serious talent to back up his above-average height for an eleven year old. He was advised to make the move to nearby SpVgg Grün-Weiß Deggendorf, which would prove crucial as he was able to launch himself into the regional leagues and eventually gather international experience. "Christian immediately made use of specialized goalkeeper training at the club," explained Wimmer.
His move to FC Bayern came in 2014, at just the age of 14. He had long been making strides at SpVgg Grün-Weiß Deggendorf, and had benefitted from the long-term support of the Bavarian Football Association and the coaches at the club. "There was a stage when the goalkeepers of the U17 SpVgg Grün-Weiß Deggendorf side were all injured, and there was a debate as to who could fill in. Because of the agreed importance of the development of youth talent, it was decided that Christian would be given the nod, despite being three years younger. He passed this challenge with flying colours and it was another key stage of his development," recalls Wimmer.
Bayern‘s sporting director Matthias Sammer and World Goalkeeper of the Year Manuel Neuer were both full of praise for the 15-year-old, but urged him to keep his feet on the ground. Wimmer adds: "There’s a lot of talk of him making his final, crucial steps. In reality, there are still many steps to take. His physical and mental development are all important. He requires the right support, the right circumstances and a bit of luck. Christian is in the best of hands now, of that I’m certain. Those responsible at Bayern and Christian himself now have to define what path he is to take. The story so far shows that we have done a very good job developing the talent of the region. It’s a real motivation for us, and justifies all of our hard work on a day to day basis.