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UEFA.com's weekly wonderkid: Christian Pulišić

This week Jürgen Klinsmann made Christian Pulišić the youngest player in any FIFA World Cup qualifier for the United States but Borussia Dortmund long ago spotted his talent.

Christian Pulisic made his Borussia Dortmund debut in January
Christian Pulisic made his Borussia Dortmund debut in January ©Getty Images

As of this week the youngest player to take part in a FIFA World Cup qualifier for the United States, Christian Pulišić's talent has long been clear at Borussia Dortmund.

Name: Christian Pulišić
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Senior debut: 30 January 2016 v Ingolstadt
Position: midfielder
Nationality: American
Date of birth: 18 September 1998
Preferred foot: right
Height: 1.73m

They say ...
"It's a great joy to have this guy with us, seeing his cheeky smile every day. He is modest, but he is always switched on. I hope he will be as courageous and diligent as he can be, grasping this chance with the utmost sincerity."
Thomas Tuchel, Dortmund coach

"Obviously he has a tremendous amount of talent, there is absolutely no doubt about it. This is big. If you're proving your point at the age of 17 in such a big environment, it shows you have courage and confidence. If you don't have that, you don't survive in training there."
Jürgen Klinsmann, United States coach

Pulišić (right) faced Leverkusen on his league bow
Pulišić (right) faced Leverkusen on his league bow©Getty Images

Background ...
Pulišić, who holds dual citizenship since his grandfather is from Croatia, was born in Pennsylvania to parents who had played college soccer. After the teenager drew interest from several big clubs with his exploits at international tournaments for local side Pennsylvania Classics, Dortmund won the race for Pulišić's signature in early 2015. He excelled for the club's Under-17 and U19 teams and it was soon clear he would not remain part of the youth set-up for long. Following regular invitations to train with the seniors from Jürgen Klopp, current BVB coach Tuchel took Pulišić to their midwinter training camp in Dubai.

Playing style ...
If you want to make it as a youngster in Tuchel's Dortmund, quick feet and outstanding technique are absolute musts. Luckily for Pulišić, he is more than blessed with both and also boasts a high level of attacking imagination, allowing him to play various positions. He has a low centre of gravity and makes the ball stick to his feet at pace.

Shades of ...
His technical ability and swift progress from shining with the U17s to featuring for the seniors has prompted comparisons with Mario Götze. Both have a similar body stature and dynamic style, but becoming more robust and accustomed to the physical demands of pro football is something the 17-year-old will want to work on. In terms of athleticism he is similar to countryman Landon Donovan. 

Pulišić on his US debut on Tuesday
Pulišić on his US debut on Tuesday©Getty Images

Eureka moment ...
On 21 February the eighth-youngest player in Bundesliga history made his starting debut at Bayer Leverkusen, a club also vying for a UEFA Champions League spot and hardly the kind of opponent you experiment against. This came less than a month after his first senior appearance. Pulišić's personal eureka moment may arguably have been during the January training camp, when conversations with Tuchel gave him the firm belief he could take the next step.

Best-case scenario ...
With Borussia Dortmund in the hunt for three trophies and Pulišić making a strong case for more playing time, this season could yet bring more memories to cherish than the tyro could have dreamed of. On Tuesday he came off the bench as the youngest player to represent the USA in a World Cup qualifier in their 4-0 defeat of Guatemala. Hopefully this attacking midfielder will break further records in the future.

He says ...
"I was a bit nervous ahead of my first game, but that faded once the ball reached my feet for the first time. The coach tells me to enjoy myself all the time. As a youngster I need to have respect for the established professionals, but I need to work hard every day to earn my spot."

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