Name: Thomas Kraft
Club: FC Bayern München
Debut: 7 August 2010 v FC Schalke 04 (German Super Cup)
Date of birth: 22/07/88
Kraft joined Bayern aged 14 from SG 06 Betzdorf of the German fifth tier. Rising through the Bayern youth academy, he made his maiden appearances for the club's second team in 2006 and established himself as first-choice reserve keeper in summer 2007.
Kraft was promoted to third in the pecking order when Michael Rensing decided to leave at the end of last term. Without a Bundesliga outing to his name, Kraft burst into the first team in this season's UEFA Champions League, starting in Bayern's 3-2 defeat at AS Roma on 23 November. He appeared again in the Matchday 6 win against FC Basel 1893, still without having tested himself in the German top flight.
During the winter break, Bayern's coaching staff decided to make Kraft their new No1 for the second half of the campaign, a decision heavily influenced by goalkeeping coach Frans Hoek, who had been instrumental in launching the careers of Edwin van der Sar and Víctor Valdés.
The 22-year-old soon became renowned as a keeper with spectacular reflexes, good with the ball at his feet and quick at launching counterattacks, a style similar to Germany's Manuel Neuer. His lack of experience and occasional hesitation at collecting high crosses have been pinpointed as his only suspect qualities. These, though, are far outweighed by his calm demeanour despite such tender years.
FC Internazionale Milano 0-1 FC Bayern München
23/02/11, UEFA Champions League
Bayern travelled to their 2010 final conquerors in the first leg of the round of 16 tie and duly delivered. Kraft was reliable throughout at San Siro, laying the platform for Mario Gomez's winner.
"I don't compare myself to other keepers.
I want to be a modern keeper. That means playing as the 11th outfield player and to be strong on the goal line. That's what I am working on. Personality comes with time, but I think I am already accepted within the team."
On his ambitions
"I prepare for every match the same way. I am trying to teach myself about every opponent to be prepared in the best possible way. For instance, how they deal with dead-ball situations or penalties."
On his pre-match preparations
"I have known Thomas for a long time now. I coached him when he was 14. I have to take my hat off to Louis van Gaal [for making Kraft No1] and for bringing in a very good goalkeeping coach."
Former Bayern keeper Sepp Maier
"Judging by his movements, Thomas is like Sepp Maier, he reminds me of Sepp. He has huge potential."
Former Bayern and Germany keeper Oliver Kahn
"I have trust in Kraft being able to cope with the pressure. He has made big improvements and I believe he will help us."
Bayern coach Louis van Gaal
"Off the pitch he's very quiet, he does his job – it isn't easy being Bayern's first-choice goalkeeper. There was a lot of criticism about this change, but I think he has done really, really well and proved to everybody that he can be first choice."
Bayern forward Arjen Robben
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