In goal by destiny and inspired by Federer: Yann Sommer loving life at the top

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Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Borussia Monchengladbach is currently No. 1 in the Bundesliga and no one is appreciating their present position more than their very own No. 1 – Yann Sommer.

Following a blistering start to the 2019/20 season, it is Gladbach who are currently top of the Bundesliga after seven rounds ahead of this week’s resumption following the international break.

Much of the plaudits have been about their red-hot front three of Alassane Plea, Breel Embolo, and Marcus Thuram but Die Fohlen are where they are because they have winners all over the park, especially between the posts.

Into his 6th year at Borussia Park now, Sommer has long established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s best shot-stoppers and currently leads all comers with three cleans sheets so far this season.

If the common consensus that goalkeepers get better into their thirties is to be believed, then Sommer is only going to get better.

“I’d say I have never felt better than I do right now… at 30,” he said on Bundesliga Weekly.

“You gain a lot of experience over the years, and at some point, there’s this realization you’ve become more composed and well versed in your work.

“You know exactly how to respond in certain situations in a way you didn’t when you were younger, and I’m still trying to improve in every department.”

The Switzerland international may be one of his national team’s best players but, when it comes to world-famous sporting personalities, none of him and his compatriots come close to a certain Roger Federer.

 

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At the age of 38, the tennis great continues to perform at the peak of his powers having claimed a 20th Grand Slam title by winning the Australian Open last year and is an inspiration even to a fellow athlete as successful as Gladbach’s No. 1.

“He’s an incredible tennis player – sheer quality,” added Sommer. “He knows precisely what has to be done and how to get the best out of himself.

“If he feels a tournament’s going to be too much, he doesn’t play it.

“I think that’s absolutely the right approach and also one that you can take in football.”

If Gladbach is to be serious challengers for the Meisterschale this season, they may have to prioritize in a similar fashion with the Europa League also on the agenda.

Thus far, Sommer has been ever-present for Die Fohlen with nine appearances in all competition, including a DFB-Pokal first-round tie and two European games against Wolfsberger and Istanbul Basaksehir.

The fact that Sommer is now one of the Bundesliga’s top performers is even more impressive considering he is far from the tallest of goalkeepers, standing at 1.83 meters.

But the former Basel man has never let his height get in the way, although it does seem he was always destined to end up in goal.

“My parents told me that, way back, the coach asked who wanted to go in goal… and I really did,” he recounted.

“My uncle was a goalkeeper and so was my father – I don’t know… maybe I was inspired by seeing his goalie gloves lying around the house.

“I wanted to be a keeper and that proved to be a good decision.”

If Gladbach does maintain their fine start to 2019/20 this weekend, it would see them pass another test with flying colors with last season’s runners-up Borussia Dortmund welcoming them to the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday.

Their upcoming opponents’ wealth of avenues in attack is no secret with Marco Reus, Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcacer looming large, while a familiar face will be on the Dortmund bench in former Gladbach coach Lucien Favre, who brought Sommer to Borussia Park in 2014 and managed him for a season.

“I know the coach well and know the kind of football he likes – super high speed counterattacking with plenty of variety up front,” explained Sommer.

“Dortmund are a team packed with quality. They are dangerous opponents.”

Dangerous opponents, they might be but – in Sommer – Gladbach has an ever-improving guardian capable of keeping even the most lethal attack at bay on his day.

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