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‘It makes your heart glad’

Club delighted by rise of home-grown talent

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The FCB junior team, the club’s youth section, signals its success to the outside world less with trophies and pennants, and more with a display on a wall near the reserve, U-19 and U-17 changing rooms, featuring framed and signed shirts from Philipp Lahm, Piotr Trochowski, Mats Hummels and many more – players who were nurtured at FCB and have gone on to become fully-fledged professionals.

This season, the “Wall of Fame” is not the sole testament to the junior team’s success. The Bayern line-up for Tuesday’s meeting with Fiorentina included five players, or practically half the team, drawn from the club’s youth development programme. Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm, Holger Badstuber, Thomas Müller and David Alaba all completed 90 Champions League minutes.

Training as a showcase

“Naturally, it makes your heart glad, and not just mine. It goes for the youth section as a whole,” Hermann Gerland told The 55-year-old, boss of the reserves for many successful years, is now Louis van Gaal’s assistant. “Louis van Gaal keeps asking me which of the boys are good,” revealed Gerland, “but he keeps a specially close eye out for quality in daily training.”

Five reserves trained with the seniors on Thursday. “You start in training, then you make the squad, and then you have to deliver when called on to play,” Lahm explained. This term, Müller, Badstuber, Diego Contento and Alaba have all retraced Lahm’s steps, Austria international Alaba even becoming the youngest player ever to represent Bayern in the Champions League.

Van Gaal’s principles

Van Gaal is the main reason why four hopefuls have been given their chances in the first team. “Louis van Gaal is brave enough to send out young lads in important games. Not everyone’s that courageous,” said Gerland. In any case, Van Gaal is known as a champion of youth. “I put Clarence Seedorf in my first team at the age of 16,” he commented. Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert at Ajax, and Xavi and Andrés Iniesta at Barcelona, are just some of the superstars blooded by the Dutch boss.