presented by

Model pupil Badstuber taking it as it comes

“I come from deepest Swabia,” explains Holger Badstuber, who hails from Rot an der Rot, a community of 4,000 souls on the Württemberg side of the border with Bavaria. He played for VfB Stuttgart youths until 2002, but when Bayern came calling, “I didn’t hesitate for a second. I’ve always been a Bayern fan.” Nowadays, Holger is a professional at his favourite club, and rates as the find of pre-season so far.

However, the 20-year-old is keeping his feet firmly on the ground. “The first few days have gone very well. I’m enjoying it,” he said, “but we still have three weeks of pre-season to go.” Badstuber speaks with a gentle Swabian accent, another sign that the youngster is not likely to get carried away just because Louis van Gaal has generally picked him for his embryonic first-choice line-up in training.

Delighted and proud

Naturally, Badstuber is “delighted and proud” at repeated praise from the coach, at the fact he is currently lining up alongside the likes of Mark van Bommel and Mario Gomez, and at his “life as a real pro”. But the central defender, who netted his first senior goal in the 11-0 win against Waging am See last Saturday, knows he still has everything to learn. “There’s no letting up now. I have to concentrate the whole time. I want to improve every day, and I’ve ended up with a great coach.”

Van Gaal is Badstuber’s latest guide and patron. The 20-year-old will be handed a chance, the boss has said. However, Holger’s father Hermann, a youth coach himself, was the first to recognise and develop the boy’s talent. “It was important to have him helping me as a coach and mentor,” Badstuber junior acknowledges.