The next destination of our alphabetical world tour is Germany. With four World Cup wins and four other final appearances, Germany have a long and rich history of footballing excellence which is reflected in an impressive number of Germans appearing in the Premier League.
According to the Premier League website, 68 players have represented Germany in the Premier League, including two in the inaugural season.
First Player – Matthias Breitkreutz (Aston Villa; 1991-94)
One of two Germans to feature in the inaugural Premier League season, midfielder Matthias Breitkreutz beat compatriot and fellow Aston Villa player Stefan Beinlich to the honour of being the first German to play in the Premier League when he played the last half hour of a draw at Manchester City on December 19th.
Very little information about Breitkreutz is available on the internet. We know that he joined Villa in 1991 at the same time as Beinlich and that he left in 1994 with just five Premier League appearances to his name. Other than that, we don’t really know.
Most Appearances: Robert Huth – 322 (Chelsea, Middlesbrough, Stoke, Leicester; 2002-18)
Robert Huth’s career is unique, to say the least. After making his Chelsea debut at 17, he featured sparingly as the Blues won back-to-back titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06.
It seemed Huth was not destined for a career at the top when he moved to Middlesbrough in 2006. He suffered relegation with Boro in 2009, but secured an immediate return to the Premier League with Stoke, where he remained until 2015.
He then miraculously won a third Premier League title in his first full season with Leicester in 2015/16. Nearly two decades in England, with league titles at his first and last clubs and nothing in between, Robert Huth is the most successful German in Premier League history.
Top Scorer: Mesut Özil – 33 (Arsenal; 2013-present)
It seems strange that Özil should hold this record; given his name is usually associated with assists rather than goals, but with 33, World Cup winner Mesut Özil is the top-scoring German in Premier League history.
Since moving to North London from Real Madrid in 2013, Özil has dazzled and infuriated in equal measure. Unplayable on his day but invisible occasionally, Özil has a mammoth haul of 54 assists from 184 appearances.
Though he was somewhat marginalised under Unai Emery, there were signs that he was returning to his best following the appointment of Mikel Arteta. If Arteta can get Özil playing how we all know he can, the Gunners will be one of the best-attacking forces in the league.
The following 14 Germans appeared in the Premier League last season before the lockdown:
Bernd Leno, Shkodran Mustafi, Mesut Özil (all Arsenal), Pascal Groß (Brighton and Hove Albion), Antonio Rüdiger (Chelsea), Max Meyer (Crystal Palace), İlkay Gündoğan (Manchester City), Moritz Leitner, Tom Trybull, Denis Srbeny, Ralph Fahrmann, Christoph Zimmermann, Marco Stiepermann and Lukas Rupp (all Norwich City).
- Six Germans have won the Premier League – Jens Lehmann, Robert Huth, Michael Ballack, André Schürrle, İlkay Gündoğan and Leroy Sané.
- Former Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski is third in both the all-time appearances and top scorers list for the German national team (130 caps, 49 goals).
- Current Bayern Munich and Germany ace Serge Gnabry made just 11 Premier League appearances in four years as a professional with Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion.
- Former Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City midfielder Dietmar Hamann scored the last ever goal at the old Wembley Stadium, in a 1-0 win for Germany over England in qualifying for the 2002 World Cup.