by Tom Lees - 5th December 2015
Outside of Germany few will have young German defender Niklas Stark on their radar, but his is a name that could well become household within a few years. Currently plying his trade for Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, Starks progress has been constant and impressive.
A commanding presence both in defence and midfield, Niklas Stark made his way quickly through the FC Nürnberg youth system, earning a place in the Germany Under 17 squad which finished as runners up in the 2011/12 UEFA U17 Championship. He would go on to make his Bundesliga debut for his club side on 27th April 2013, a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim. In the remaining weeks of the season Niklas would make two more first team appearances, aged just 18 his potential was already beginning to shine.
The 2013/14 season was where he really started to grow, representing Nürnberg in 21 Bundesliga games, gaining valuable experience. Stark was then selected for the UEFA U19 Championships at the end of the season, a tournament which Germany would win, Niklas Stark proving to be a standout player in the successful squad. As a reward for his performances he was awarded the prestigious Gold Fritz Walter Medal in 2014, for the Under 19 category.
Even though Nürnberg were relegated to the second tier of German football in 2014, Stark would continue to not only turn in high quality performances at club level, but also at German Under 20 and 21’s, one of very few players outside of the Bundesliga to do so. This continued until summer 2015 when Nürnberg accepted an offer from Hertha Berlin, allowing their young star to play in the top tier yet again. Of course it didn’t take long for Stark to force his way into the Hertha starting line-up, continuing until injury suffered against Hamburg in October would rule the player out until January.
His style of play is reminiscent of the legendary Franz Beckenbauer, not saying for one moment that he is comparable in ability, but the strong, authoritative way he classily moves between the defence and midfield, dictating play around him, showing leadership and composure belying his young age. Already experienced in wearing the Captains armband for Germany Under 21, Stark has the look of a young man who will go one step further and not only represent the full National team, but captain Die Mannschaft in the years to come.
The future could be an exciting one for Niklas Stark, but if his past is anything to go by, he will no doubt classily become a big star, taking everything that comes in his stride.