For Florian Wirtz, this year's Fritz Walter Medal in the U19 age group is the second gold following on from 2020 (U17). Simon Rolfes, Bayer 04 sporting managing director said: "It's an award Florian absolutely deserves. The sporting value attributed to him and the quality in him seen by the DFB is proven by the fact that this Fritz Walter Medal has been awarded to him where he was unable to play for eight months due to his torn cruciate."
Rolfes also spoke about the future of the 19-year-old playmaker Wirtz: "Florian has nearly got over this difficult time and he will come back stronger than before. I'm not alone in seeing him as one of the most important players in German football over the next ten years."
Wirtz, who has been at the Werkself since January 2020, is following in big footsteps as a winner of the Fritz Walter Medal: Benjamin Henrichs won gold in the U19 category in 2016 and he was followed in the same age group two years later by homegrown player Kai Havertz.
The Fritz Walter Medal has also been awarded to young female players for the first time this year: That was decided by the DFB following their 'Equal play' reform. That means this year's award and those in future go both to the best male players as well as female players in the U17 and U19 age groups with gold, silver and bronze medals being awarded.
Two gold medals came straight to women's youth players at Leverkusen: Lisanne Gräwe won the award in the U19 age group and her Bayer 04 teammate Clara Fröhlich was the winner in the U17 category. "These awards are confirmation of the successful work with young talents at Bayer 04," said Thomas Eichin, head of the Youth & Women teams. "Giving young female players from our own ranks the chance to gain a foothold in the Bundesliga is a big part of our strategy relating to the development of women's football at Bayer 04."
A total of 24 players received the highest individual awards in German youth football this year. The background in comparison to previous years with higher numbers of winners now is the Equal Play principle being applied to the award of the Fritz Walter Medals in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Leverkusen player Clara Fröhlich received the award for last year belatedly.
The German Football Association (DFB) has paid between €10,000 and €20,000 to amateur clubs who were involved in the development of the talents who won the Fritz Walter Medal.
Leverkusen winners of the Fritz Walter Medal :
2022: Florian Wirtz (U19/Gold), Lisanne Gräwe (U19 Women/Gold), Clara Fröhlich (U17 Women/Gold)
2020: Florian Wirtz (U17/Gold)
2018: Kai Havertz (U19/Gold)
2016: Benjamin Henrichs (U19/Gold); Kai Havertz (U17/Silver)
2015: Jonathan Tah (U19/Gold)
2014: Julian Brandt (U18/Gold); Levin Öztunali (U18/Silver)
2013: Dominik Kohr (U19/Bronze)
2012: Dominik Kohr (U18/Bronze)
2010: Kolja Pusch (U17/Bronze)
2008: Marcel Risse (U19/Bronze); Richard Sukuta-Pasu (U18/Bronze)
2007: Stefan Reinartz (U18/Bronze); Nils Teixeira (U17/Bronze)
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