Football maestro. Talented technician on the field. International player. Chelsea F.C.’s savior in the finals of the UEFA Champions League.
We’re of course referring to Kai Havertz, the German professional footballer (attacking midfielder) playing for Premier League club Chelsea and the German national team who was hailed as the hero that gave his club their second-ever win in the prestigious annual tournament — narrowingly edging Manchester City one to nil to secure the coveted cup.
Budding International Football Superstar
Havertz received his very first experience on the football field at the young age of four when he joined the Alemannia Mariadorf amateur club — where his grandfather was the chairman. In 2009, the young player was signed by division 2 Bundesliga club Alemannia Aachen where he spent a short year-long stint in the club’s academy before joining Bayer Leverkusen at the age of 11.
And in the years that followed, Havertz had to also overcome many challenges during his ascent to the top of his bracket. In 2016, after scoring an impressive 18 goals for the club’s U-17 team, he was awarded the silver U-17 Fritz Walter Medal before being placed into Leverkusen’s senior team the following year.
Havertz finally made his debut for Bayer Leverkusen on 15 October 2016 when he came on as the second-half substitute for Charles Aránguiz in a 2 — 1 defeat to Werder Bremen. Upon entering the field, Havertz became the club’s youngest Bundesliga debutant at the age of 17 years old. This record would be broken by Florian Wirtz (by 111 days) in 2020. But that would not be the only record Harvertz was involved with during his stint with the Bundesliga club.
On 17 February 2017, he was instrumental in assisting teammate Karim Bellarabi to score the 50,000th goal in the Bundesliga. He scored his first goal for the club months later, by netting a late equalizer in a 3 — 3 draw with VfL Wolfsburg which meant he had become Leverkusen’s youngest goalscorer in the Bundesliga at the age of 17. And on 14 April 2018, Havertz became the youngest player in the history of the German football league to have made 50 appearances for a club
Havertz also continued to impress during the following seasons, scoring his first goal in European competition in a 3 — 2 win against Ludogorets Razgrad in the 2018/2019 UEFA champions league matches.
On 26 January 2019, Havertz became the club’s youngest-ever penalty scorer when he got the goal from the spot in a 3 — 0 win over Wolfsburg and the following month, he achieved the feat of 75 Bundesliga appearances — becoming the second-youngest player to achieve this feat. Havertz would also go on to score his 100th appearance for the club, scoring the only goal (his 13th of the season) in a win over Stuttgart. This goal would also see him becoming the youngest player to score 13 goals in a single league season. He would then carry on his perfect form on the final day of the season where he became the highest-scoring teenager in a single Bundesliga season by scoring his 17th goal of the campaign.
In what would be his final season with the Bundesliga club, Havertz scored on the opening day of the 2019/2020 season, becoming the second-youngest player to score 25 goals and in December 2019, he became the youngest player to reach 100 Bundesliga appearances.
Following the completion of the season, Havertz went on to sign a five-year deal with English Premier League club Chelsea where the transfer fee was reported to be one of the most expensive signings in the club’s history.
Chelsea’s Young Hero in The UEFA Champions League Finals
With a tough season that was marred by plenty of unfortunate circumstances i.e. the global COVID-19 pandemic and contracting the virus itself in November 2020, Chelsea’s young German midfielder ended up stunning both himself and everyone else after scoring the coup de grâce to give the Blues their second Champions League trophy in a thrilling 1 — 0 victory over favorites-to-win, Manchester City on 29th May 2021.
The 21-year-old scored the only goal (his only one during this season in the UEFA Champions League) in the 42nd minute which would ultimately give underdogs Chelsea the much-deserved victory this time around in the UEFA nations league results. This would certainly mean that part of, if not all of the large sum of money (£72 million, a club record) that Chelsea invested in the young lad to sign him from Bayer Leverkusen last summer would be instantly repaid in the climax of a one-of-a-kind season.
With impeccable timing rarely seen even amongst veteran players, Havertz raced through the pitch to receive Chelsea teammate, Mason Mount’s superb through ball while also evading out-rushing City keeper Ederson before simply rolling the ball gently into an unguarded net.
The goal capped off a remarkable journey for Havertz who had suffered through various challenges throughout the season as he struggled to get used to the pace of the Premier League. In fact, Havertz’s lack of form was one of the attributing factors that led to Frank Lampard being sack as Chelsea manager in January. In that time, the player had only managed to score one Premier League goal.
Even after fellow German Thomas Tuchel took over the mantle of head coach and manager, the young midfielder continued to struggle for form and would only score another goal in the EPL in April. Though under the tutelage of Tuchel, Havertz has slowly begun to regain the skill and finesse that made him a sought-after target for Europe’s biggest clubs.
This would culminate in a wonderful match against Manchester City which saw Havertz becoming the youngest German player to score a goal in a Champions League final since Borussia Dortmund’s Lars Ricken in 1997.
On how he felt on the pitch, Havertz had this to say, “I don’t know what to say. I really don’t know what to say. I waited a long time,”
“I’ve waited 15 years for this moment and now it’s here.”
It was definitely a slight surprise that the German player was given the spot to start in Porto on Saturday ahead of Christian Pulisic. But this gamble would pay off as he worked tirelessly to help link Chelsea’s offensive line to victory.