Marko Marin and Toni Kroos of germany celebrate

Whether this slight figure of a man is striking the ball sweetly around the park, bursting into space between defenders, or gliding, ball at feet, past flat-footed opponents, fans tend to be left open-mouthed in amazement. Marko Marin can only be described as one of the uncut diamonds of German football, an attacking player who mostly operates on the wing and is capable of turning matches in a trice.

A central playmaker in the youth ranks at Eintracht Frankfurt, the 1.70m-tall forward moved at the age of 15 to Borussia Monchengladbach, where he made his professional debut after a further period of fine-tuning. As early as September 2007, when Marin was awarded the Fritz Walter gold medal as Germany’s best young footballer, it was evident that the young man of Bosnian-Serb extraction was a special talent. Last summer, he signed for Werder Bremen and his international career was ready for take-off.

In May 2008, the goalscorer and midfield creator came to the attention of all German football fans for the first time when national coach Joachim Low unexpectedly called the then second division player into his preliminary squad for UEFA EURO 2008. He did not make the final squad, but that disappointment ultimately only made him more determined to succeed. The following August, making his second international appearance in a friendly against Belgium, the midfielder scored an outstanding goal just minutes after coming on following a slick interchange with Philipp Lahm.

From that evening in Nuremberg onwards, Low was well aware of the unpredictability and creative spark potentially on offer from a player such as Marin in tight situations against the world’s top teams. The 21-year-old must be considered a real option in South Africa as a wide attacking midfielder in a 4-5-1 system.

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