Tom Rothe scored in his debut Bundesliga game to become the youngest player to score on his debut in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 thrashing of VfL Wolfsburg. Mike Tullberg, coach of the 17-year-old in BVB-U19, raves SPOX and GOAL from his left-back.
“Not too bad,” said Tom Rothe when interviewed with him sky his goal to 1-0 against VfL Wolfsburg was shown. The debutant went straight into the history books: at 17 years and 169 days, Rothe became the youngest player to score on his Bundesliga debut.
“Tom did an excellent job. Of course, the goal gave him more self-confidence and even more security. For his age and the circumstances, he plays very calmly,” praised BVB coach Marco Rose after the 88 minutes that Rothe had on the field let. That he put him there at all came as quite a surprise, but primarily had to do with the absences of Raphael Guerreiro (muscular problems) and Thorgan Hazard (back pain). The fact that Rothe was preferred to Nico Schulz, who has recovered, is telling.
Above all, however, it is a sign of the great esteem that Rothe, who only switched to Dortmund from FC St. Pauli’s U17s last summer, enjoys at BVB. It doesn’t matter who you ask from the club – everyone finds the left-back more than just “not so bad”.
“Tom is brutally ambitious. He has the most sessions with us, completes the most sprints, eats the healthiest food and has the best stamina. He’s a top professional through and through,” says U19 coach Mike Tullberg in an interview SPOX and GOALS. Rothe quickly became a regular there and last weekend became champions in the Bundesliga West. He has eleven appearances and two goals, plus one in eight UEFA Youth League games.
BVB talent Tom Rothe a rarity in youth football
“He’s a great boy, but he’s still almost a U17 player and goes to school. That’s why you have to be careful with him that things don’t go too fast,” warns Tullberg. In fact, Rothe belongs to the so-called youngsters, so he could still play in the A youth team for two more years. If he continues to develop as before, this should not happen.
Rothe was already a guest at the professional training camp in the summer, and he trains up there again and again. He is certified as having the right mentality in order to be able to continuously improve. This was already evident when he changed, the longer break at St. Pauli due to the corona pandemic was not physically noticeable to Rothe.
Above all, Rothe is a real rarity in youth football with his numerous weapons: his height of 1.92 meters, his physique and stamina, his speed, his game intelligence and technique – full-backs don’t often bring this pretty complete package with them. The physicality and the fact that he rarely makes mistakes is a rare combination, especially for a left-back.
BVB debutant Tom Rothe: strengths and weaknesses
In addition, there is a certain sovereignty and serenity, which already flashed in places during his performance on Saturday afternoon. Rothe has also played convincingly in Dortmund so far. Above all, the diagonal flat passes with his good left foot into midfield or behind the opposing chain are played extremely cleanly. “He’s also strong in the air and his crosses are great,” says Tullberg, listing other advantages.
Rothe also brings a certain degree of flexibility with regard to his position. The 17-year-old can run up and down the line like he did against Wolfsburg. He can play both inside and outside in a back three and can play as a left-back in a back four.
With these skills, Rothe was immediately on the list of the professional coaching team. There they have been toying with the idea of pulling him up for a long time. However, they took his compulsory education into account and were careful not to let Rothe jump back and forth between the teams too much.
Rothe coach Tullberg: “One who has what it takes to get to the top”
The second of the three teams Rothe has played for this season was only added three and a half weeks ago. At the end of March he played for the German U19 national team for the first time in the European Championship qualifier and was allowed to play three times within six days, twice over the entire duration of the game.
There are many new things and impressions that have hit Rothe in the past few months. Not just from a sporting point of view: for the first time he is separated from his family and moved into a room in the boarding school on the training ground in the Brackel district of Dortmund. The complex learning process that every young player Rothe’s age has to go through is in full swing.
“He still has a lot to learn,” says Tullberg, saying it goes without saying, naming the positional play and defensive tackles that need further improvement. There is also further potential for development when protecting his teammates and constant greed in the game against the ball.
At BVB, they firmly believe that Rothe can overcome all these challenges and has a lot to offer to make it to the professional level. Rothe is perceived at the club as intelligent, calm and down to earth. He is credited with having a good work ethic that doesn’t require too much doggedness. “He’s one of those players who you can say has what it takes to get to the top,” Tullberg is sure.
BVB – Tom Rothe: The performance data of his debut for Borussia Dortmund