By 90Min
May 15, 2018

As England's Under-17 side were celebrating their 2017 World Cup success in India following a 5-2 victory against their Spanish counterparts in the final, there was one noticeable absentee from proceedings.

Recalled after the group stage in order to join up with Borussia Dortmund ahead of their Champions League and UEFA Youth League games against Apoel Nicosia, Jadon Sancho left the tournament having scored three goals and provided two assists; although it's safe to say the best of his season was yet to come.

In a transfer that raised more than a few eyebrows, as many people questioned as to whether Sancho was making the right decision in leaving Manchester City to join Borussia Dortmund to begin with, the 18-year-old has given an emphatic response.

PATRIK STOLLARZ/GettyImages

With Dortmund's healthy reputation when it comes to developing young talent, Sancho didn't have to wait long before receiving his first taste around then-manager Peter Bosz's match day squad. Albeit, it was a watching brief, as he was named on the bench for the game away to FC Augsburg at the end of September. His debut would be a six minute cameo against Eintracht Frankfurt two games later. 

Despite making another appearance in the final 10 minutes against Bayern Munich following his debut in Frankfurt, Sancho would have to be patient, biding his time in Dortmund's youth sides until his time came under new manager Peter Stoger in the new year.

Starting and playing the full 90 minutes against VfL Wolfsburg in mid-January, it would mark the trust the Austrian placed in the then-17-year-old throughout his tenure at the club, as Sancho would register his first assist the very next game for Shinji Kagawa's equaliser against Hertha Berlin. His progress, however, was halted by a ligament injury following a further two Bundesliga appearances. 

His performances wouldn't go unnoticed, however, rightfully earning the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month award for January in a month that saw him make his debut.


After a pair of brief substitute appearances at the beginning of April to regain match sharpness, a game against Bayer Leverkusen gave the footballing world a stunning glimpse of his capabilities that may have taken longer to be exhibited if he had stayed at the Etihad. 

Making his first start since his ligament injury, Sancho produced a brave, ruthless display in front of the Westfalenstadion faithful. The Englishman scored his first senior goal with a lovely curling effort into the bottom corner, before setting up Maximilian Philipp and Marco Reus to cap a fine individual performance, earning the Man of the Matchday award in the process.

One further assist would follow before the close of the season against Mainz, which would see Sancho finish the year with 12 appearances in the famous yellow and black; seven of which were starts.

Despite his exploits in Germany, Sancho presumably would've had one on his former club Manchester City's record-breaking romp to the Premier League title, although would've had little regret with his decision to depart from England based on the season his international teammate Phil Foden had. 

While there is no doubt the experience of earning a Premier League and EFL Cup winners medal will stand Foden in good stead for the future, the Under-17 World Cup Golden Ball winner was limited to 10 appearances in all competitions this season - three of which were starts - putting pay to the words of the great Sir Matt Busby: "If they are good enough, they are old enough."

England U17 vs Germany U17, Algarve Cup U17

Underpinning Sancho's rapid rise from academy prospect to a starter for Dortmund, keeping the likes of Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle on the bench, there is an important sense of realism as to where he stands at this stage of his fledgling career, stating in a recent interview: "I haven't hit my peak. When I've hit my peak, then that's when I've arrived, but I definitely feel comfortable right now."


His performances this season however haven't gone unnoticed back on home soil. The Times among others have reported that Sancho could be named in Gareth Southgate's provisional squad for the World Cup in Russia this summer.


Whether Sancho earns a call up or not, his decision and subsequent season at Dortmund has proven he is ready for regular first team football, as he looks set to play an even bigger part in the upcoming 2018/19 campaign.

With the added incentive of Champions League football next season to pit himself against the best in Europe, Sancho could even face former employers Manchester City, giving Guardiola the perfect chance to witness the one that got away. 

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