27.12.2016Bayer 04

International roll call for Leverkusen half dozen

A quick quiz question before the end of the year: Which club has provided the most players to the current, extended Germany squad?
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

A quick quiz question before the end of the year: Which club has provided the most players to the current, extended Germany squad? To answer this question correctly, many people on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' would phone a friend or ask the audience. Not many would think of saying Bayer 04 Leverkusen. But that is the right answer. The Werkself have provided six players for the full Germany squad, ahead of Bayern with five. Bernd Leno, Jonathan Tah, Benjamin Henrichs, Julian Brandt, Kevin Volland and Karim Bellarabi are the half-dozen Leverkusen stars in the squad under the Germany coach Joachim Löw.

It’s a long time since bayer 04 had so many players in the Germany squad. You have to go back 14 years to find a similar sized Leverkusen group in the national side. In 2002, at the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, there were five Bayer 04 players in Rudi Völler's squad: Michael Ballack, Bernd Schneider, Carsten Ramelow, Oliver Neuville and goalkeeper Jörg Butt. With the exception of the latter, all the other Leverkusen players made it to the starting line-up. In the 2-0 defeat to Brazil in the final in Yokohama, Germany started with three Leverkusen players: Ramelow, Schneider and Neuville. Ballack was suspended for that game.

There were five Bayer 04 pros in a friendly against Finland on 31 August 2016. The farewell match for Bastian Schweinsteiger, that ended in a 2-0 win for Germany, saw Karim Bellarabi, Kevin Volland and Julian Brandt start with Bernd Leno and Jonathan Tah coming on as substitutes in the second half. The Werkself quintet play together for 20 minutes in that match. And there was a sixth Leverkusen player in the Finland side: Joel Pohjanpalo.

Henrichs is youngest Germany international in Bayer 04's history

Another very important chapter this year featured Benjamin Henrichs. At the end of the second half of the 2015/16 campaign the former midfielder, converted to a full-back by Roger Schmidt, was a regular in the Bayer 04 first team. This season, Henrichs has built on his impressive performances and become a key player for the Werkself and week in week out he does an outstanding job, mainly on the right side of the defence.

Given the fantastic development Benny has made, it was no surprise a call- up would come from Joachim Löw. Nevertheless, being included in the squad for the European Championship qualifier against San Marino was the icing on the cake in an incredible year for the youngster. And on 11 November Benny went on to make his full international debut in the starting eleven. "I think I'll need another two nights to believe it's really true," beamed Henrichs after the 8-0 win in San Marino. "The lads have treated me brilliantly and I really feel at home in the team.

19 years and 262 days: That was how old Henrichs was in his first outing for the national side. That makes him the youngest ever Germany player in the history of Bayer 04. Gonzalo Castro, the previous record holder, was a month older when he made his debut in 2007. And Benny is also the youngest player in the current, extended Germany squad – followed by his Leverkusen team-mates Julian Brandt and Jonathan Tah who are both 20 years old.

The match against San Marino was also a special occasion for Kevin Volland. The striker scored his first international goal to make it 8-0.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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