Just under a year ago Julian Draxler was too embarrassed to go and introduce himself to his childhood idol, Zinedine Zidane.
It was the day before the Champions League final between Barcelona and Juventus and the two were present at the same Berlin restaurant.
According to an article in L’Equipe, Draxler was too shy to go and speak to his hero, preferring instead to find a better, more appropriate time to do so.
Fast-forward to present day and Zidane certainly knows all about the German playmaker now, after his exploits with Wolfsburg helped wreak havoc on Real Madrid, during a 2-0 victory in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final meeting between the two.
Demonstrating his classy qualities as he did against Manchester United in the group stages of the competition, Draxler tormented Real’s Danilo time and again right in front of the legendary French fantasista.
It was this kind of form which saw Draxler become the latest German sensation after his breakout season with Schalke as a 17-year old in 2011, when he played alongside another Real Madrid legend, Raul.
For a time after, Draxler was linked with every European super club at one point or another, most notably Arsenal and Juventus, as the plaudits flowed. Former Sampdoria and Juve winger Attilio Lombardo even went as far as to suggest comparisons with the young star’s idol, telling Tuttosport in the wake of the Italian club’s interest:
Draxler is well known to be devastating. He can be used as an attacking playmaker, and I am convinced that in the future he may also become a regista – in front of the defense, like Pirlo.
He has excellent technique and, although young, has great personality: one that is not afraid to risk the important plays.
Comparisons? Some movements he does with his ankles and in some shots he reminds me of Zidane. Of course, Zizou was an absolute monster. However if we talk of potential I am convinced that at Juventus, in the midst of so many champions, he will grow more.
The move to Italy (or England) never materialised and although Draxler was part of his country’s World Cup winning squad, the Number 10 played just 18 minutes in Brazil.
Injuries have also hampered his meteoric trajectory, however after a slow start to life with Wolfsburg, whom he joined just last summer for €36m – a record fee between two German sides – replacing the irresistible Kevin De Bruyne, Draxler has slowly come to the fore as the team’s attacking fulcrum, elegantly probing, creating and scoring goals.
With this form Draxler announced himself to Zidane first-hand; if he can emulate his hero at the Bernabeu and dump Real out of the Champions League, he may put a premature end to Zidane’s reign as coach.