Florian Wirtz: Bayer Leverkusen’s Invincible Prince

At halftime between Bayer Leverkusen’s home match against Werder Bremen, the score is 1-0. Leverkusen are going to win their first Bundesliga title whilst unbeaten. Xabi Alonso has put himself into German folklore with this success. To put the dagger into Bremen’s and Bayern Munich’s heart, the Spaniard puts on Florian Wirtz at halftime. The 20-year-old has been the creative focal point for the North Rhine-Westphalia team but this game, he decided to score his first career hat-trick and be Leverkuaen’s hammer. 


It is the first season in which he scored double-digit goals in the Bundesliga. The hat-trick against Bremen put him to 11 goals and 10 assists in the Bundesliga, and 17 goals and 18 assists in all competitions. At age 20, he has already risen to the top of German Football. The wunderkind has already fulfilled his potential in Leverkusen fan’s eyes by winning them their first-ever Bundesliga title.



He’s been earmarked for greatness from a young age. From making his debut on 18 May 2020, he was Leverkusen’s youngest player in the league, at 17 years and 15 days. On 6 June, Wirtz scored his first goal for Leverkusen against Bayern Munich, making Wirtz the youngest goalscorer in Bundesliga history at 17 years and 34 days. Then an ACL in 2022 was a handbrake on his upward ascension.


An injury to the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) is one of the more devastating traumas an athlete can suffer. The ligament prevents the tibia from sliding out in front of the femur and provides rotational stability to the knee. While the wonders of modern medicine have seen some top players return to action within a year of injuring their knee, few players reach the high levels of performance they managed before injuring their knee. However, Wirtz has not only returned to the same levels, he has exceeded them under Alonso’s tutelage.


Under Alonso, he plays off the left-hand side in a 3-4-3. His ability to float between the lines, pick up the ball in the pockets and always remain unseen is magic. He may as well be wearing the invisibility cloak from Harry Potte with how he remains unmarked. His link-up with Alejandro Grimaldo has been telepathic. The German international’s first touch is velvet which always grants him more space and time than other footballers. His through balls to the flying Spaniard are always hit to perfection, allowing him to put in his pinpoint crosses without hesitation.


His link-up with Victor Boniface up front was something made in heaven, by heaven I mean Simon Rolfe’s brilliant footballing mind. By floating between the lines, he fed Boniface from every angle. Whenever the Nigerian runs in behind, he knows the German will find him and has done so on multiple occasions before his unfortunate three-month layoff. Or Wirtz would feed into his feet as he knows his striker is a bull upfront and played the ball off of him to create space for others.


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Wirtz’s creativity was on show earlier in the season but in the last six weeks, his goal-scoring exploits have come about. His volley against Wolfsburg to make it 2-0 was a mix of his running in behind and awesome technique. He cut in and faked the Freiburg defenders out to create a yard of space to make it 1-0 in the 3-2 win. 


Recently, he also started taking penalties and stepping up in crucial moments. In the 8th minute of extra time in the first half, he stepped up and slotted away the only goal of the game. He scored the first goal to lead them in their comeback in the first leg in the round of 16 against Qarabag, and against Werder Bremen, he showed the full extent of his talents.


His first goal was a wonder goal from 30 yards out. In a flash, it went from his right foot and past Wolfsburg’s goalkeeper, Michael Zetterer. His second was run in behind in which he showed ice-cool composure in front of the goal and it queued a premature pitch invasion. The third, after being picked out by Grimaldo, holding off the defender and slotting it past the keeper, prompted the pitch invasion and the final whistle. 


Wirtz’s exploits have changed Leverkusen’s history. From being called Neverkusen after losing the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal cup final and the Champions League final in 2002 to never losing even once this year. But the story does not end here. They have a DFB-Pokal Cup final in which they are overwhelmingly favourites against 2. Bundesliga, FC Kaiserslautern. They are 2-0 ahead in their first leg against West Ham in the Quarter-final of the Europa League.



If they finish the season unbeaten in the Bundesliga, they join Juventus and Arsenal as the only clubs to be unbeaten in a full league season. If they win the German double they are in German folklore. If they win the treble whilst also being unbeaten all season? This Leverkusen team will go in the annals of history as one of the greatest German teams ever. If this were to happen, Florian Wirtz would be a key reason behind this. If Germany were to make a splash at the Euros, with Wirtz playing a starring role, then the whispers of a Ballon d’Or could become too loud to ignore. 


By: Abu Yasin / @Abuy2j

Featured Image: @GabFoligno / picture alliance